8 Top Programming Languages in 2020 According to TIOBE & Stack Overflow [An Overview]by@arateg
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8 Top Programming Languages in 2020 According to TIOBE & Stack Overflow [An Overview]

by ArategJune 3rd, 2020
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At the moment, the TIOBE index monitors 265 popular programming languages. Python is the 4th most used and the second most loved programming language among software engineers from all over the world. Java is owned by Oracle, owned by the company that executes high performance and provides backwards compatibility under the hood. Java takes the 5th position in the list of the most popular languages in the world for web and mobile applications. According to StackOverflow, 90% of Fortune 500 companies rely on Java for mission-critical workloads.

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At the moment, the TIOBE index monitors 265 popular programming languages. The TIOBE includes a language on the list if it matches three key requirements: it is Turing complete, has its own Wikipedia page, and provides more than 5,000 search results on Google. 

However, there are many more technologies that are in current use or have already fallen off the radar. Wikipedia tracks over 700 programming languages with the view of involving all notable technologies in existence. So, how do you pick the best one to build a software project?

The decision depends on many factors, for instance, the product type (web, iOS, Android), solution category (machine learning, blockchain, big data, etc.), business needs (data security, high scalability, performance, resilience, etc.), other specifications (e.g., statistical computing, data analysis).

Since it’s rather challenging for business owners to choose a programming language for software development, we’ve prepared this article to help you. Take a look at our top 8 which was created on the basis of multiple surveys, ratings, and our own experience. 

Top 8 programming languages for 2020 and beyond

Programming language popularity (2015-2019) by Stack Overflow survey

1. Python

Python supports multiple programming paradigms that involve object-oriented, procedural, and functional programming. The core philosophy behind Python is based on simplicity and high code readability.

As StackOverflow reports, Python is the 4th most used and the second most loved programming language among software engineers from all over the world. YouTube, Instagram, Dropbox, Reddit, Quora, Spotify, Netflix, and many other globally known projects are implemented with the help of Python.

The technology provides various modules and packages for building graphical user interfaces (GUI), making text/image recognition solutions, allowing scientific computing, creating pseudorandom numbers, and a lot more. That’s why it’s being widely used in banking, finance, insurance, fintech, healthcare, digital marketing, and other sectors that operate large data amounts and need to ensure personalized experiences.

With TensorFlow, Keras, and other libraries, Python is a perfect choice for writing Artificial Intelligence, data analytics, and web applications. Now startups are widely using Python to develop truly innovative products and attract investment. Python is especially enjoyed for its high development speed, concise syntax, and great machine learning capabilities. 

Domio is a real estate firm located in the USA that aims at delivering high-quality services to the short-term vacation market. Established in 2016, the startup employs machine learning and data analytics to find rental properties. By now, Domio has raised $116 million across all funding rounds. 

Simon Data is a New York-based startup that provides a Customer Data Platform (CDP) for businesses. Leveraging big data and machine learning, it helps enterprises ensure a personalized experience and power customer communications. Simon Data has attracted a total investment amount of $61.8 million over 5 rounds. Both Domio and Simon Data use Python in the core of their digital products.

The main use cases of Python are:

  • Data science
  • Data analytics
  • Web development
  • Information security
  • Artificial Intelligence: machine learning, deep learning, natural language processing (NLP), text and image processing

Having a strong developer community support, Python is constantly being improved. Last month, on January 25, 2020, Python 3.9.0a3 was opened for alpha testing.

“Thanks to its innovativeness, speed, and simplicity, Python has seen exponential growth since its initial release. In our company, we mainly employ it for building web, machine learning, natural language processing, and data analytics solutions. Leveraging the power of Python, we help startups extend their businesses with the help of Artificial Intelligence-based and other innovative products.”

Sergey Glebko, Co-founder and CTO at Arateg

2. Java

Currently owned by Oracle, Java is an object-oriented interpreted language that executes with high performance and provides backwards compatibility. With strong developer community support under the hood, Java comprises a set of tools for building complex enterprise software projects. Thanks to Java Virtual Machine (JVM), Java is platform-independent, which allows engineers to create both mobile and web applications.

For today, Java takes the 5th position in the list of the most popular programming languages on StackOverflow. According to IDC, 90% of Fortune 500 companies rely on Java for mission-critical workloads.

The primary Java use cases are:

  • Web development
  • Android development
  • Big Data solutions
  • Enterprise application development

This technology is a great choice if you want to enable fast data/request processing, enterprise computing, data management, high performance, security, and system resilience. Java is also used for making scalable digital solutions that can easily withstand high loads.

3. JavaScript 

According to StackOverflow Developer Survey 2019, JavaScript is the most popular programming language worldwide. JS allows creating dynamic web pages and interactive web applications. JavaScript runs almost everywhere including web browsers, mobile devices, cloud, servers, containers (e.g., Docker containers), and microcontrollers. 

Today many world-famous companies like IBM, Linkedin, Uber, PayPal, and Walmart are already using JavaScript to build their digital products. Netflix, an American production company and one of the largest online media streaming providers in the world, leveraged Node.js to redesign its platform. 

Representing a cross-platform JS runtime environment, Node.js executes JavaScript code outside of a browser. This technology lets programmers employ JavaScript for server-side development. Node.js is widely used for making scalable software solutions.

Previously, Netflix had the server-side created in Java and front-end built with JavaScript. As a result, engineers had to know both languages to be able to write the code twice. 

This prolonged the app development and deployment processes, as well as required additional efforts from the team. Developers who had already had experience in JavaScript transferred the server-side to Node.js. 

“We have improved performance and reduced infrastructure costs with Node. We now are serving the same number of subscribers at lower latencies,” —said Yunong Xiao, Principle Engineer at Netflix, in his interview about using Node.js. 
“The dynamic nature has enabled us to rapidly develop, test, build and deploy presentation layer and server-side code, including templates and client-side assets,” —he added.

The main use cases of JS are: 

  • Web development
  • Mobile application development
  • Backend development
  • Serverless computing
  • Browser solution development

Thus, JavaScript is a successful choice if you need to produce a scalable and high-performance solution. Being capable to run almost everywhere, this language perfectly suits for designing dynamic applications and modern user interfaces with various interactive elements. 

4. TypeScript

TypeScript closes the top ten most popular programming languages on StackOverflow Developer Survey conducted in 2019. It is also the world’s third most loved language among software developers.

Representing a strict syntactical JS superset, this open-source language adds optional static typing to JavaScript and compiles to plain JavaScript. TypeScript enables engineers to employ JS code, incorporate JS libraries, and call TypeScript code from JavaScript. 

Created and maintained by Microsoft, TypeScript can be run on any browser, host, and operating system. Supporting a wide range of tools, it’s a perfect match for making large-scale solutions and complex web interfaces.

TypeScript has the same use cases as JavaScript.

“In our custom mobile and web development company, we enjoy TypeScript for its rich functionality, strong community support, and expressiveness. Compared to other technologies, TypeScript enables programmers to ensure higher, reliability, scalability, and easier maintenance as well.”

Sergey Glebko, Co-founder and CTO at Arateg

5. PHP 

Being a general-purpose scripting language, PHP is mainly used for web development. PHP can be built-in into HTML code and employed together with multiple CMSs (content management systems) like WordPress and Joomla. The technology provides a rich developer environment with various open-source libraries and web frameworks that involve Yii, Zend, Laravel, Symfony, Phalcon, and CodeIgniter.

PHP was featured as the world’s 8th most used language on StackOverflow Developer Survey 2019, which is one position higher than in 2018. Plenty of globally recognized websites are written in PHP, for example, Facebook, Slack, Tumblr, Dailymotion, and many others.

PHP is constantly being updated. On November 28, 2019, the PHP team announced the availability of PHP 7.4.0, one of the most feature-packed versions ever. A new release came with many improvements such as reduced memory usage and significant performance increase. With a new version, web developers are able to write their code faster. 

PHP is used for producing:

  • Dynamic web pages
  • Functional websites
  • Content management systems
  • Server-side and standalone web applications

6. Go

Golang is a statically-typed open-source programming language that provides memory safety and garbage collection, which is a form of automatic memory management. Developed and released in 2007 by Google, Go offers code readability, high-performance networking, and multiprocessing.

It is noteworthy that Go was created under the influence of C but with a focus on higher simplicity, security, and programming productivity. No wonder that Golang is the 3rd most loved language in the world (on StackOverflow).

Many world-famous companies like Dropbox, Twitch, Netflix, and Uber have already employed it in their projects. For example, Uber used Go to develop the highest queries per second (QPS) service that allowed handling high volumes of geofence-based queries.

Dropbox transferred some of its performance-critical backends from Python to Go to improve concurrency support and increase the code execution speed. This enabled the organization to efficiently manage a growing user base and scale its systems.

Use cases of Golang:

  • Enterprise software
  • Microservices architecture
  • Internet of Things
  • Serverless computing
  • Cloud-native development
  • Blockchain development 

Choose Go if your goal is to achieve high product performance, scalability, and simpler maintenance. Allowing development teams to write clean stable code, it is especially suited for building digital solutions able to easily withstand high loads. 

7. Kotlin

Developed by JetBrains, Kotlin is a statically-typed language which is fully compatible with Java and works everywhere wherever Java works. It runs on the JVM, has lean readable syntax, and offers JavaScript support. Providing engineers with access to all Java tools, Kotlin allows writing more concise code and making the same tasks much faster.

According to StackOverflow Developer Survey 2019, Kotlin is the world’s 4th most loved programming language. TechBeacon featured Kotlin as one of 5 young languages that are predicted to have a bright future. World-renowned projects like Uber, Trello, Coursera, Basecamp 3, Pivotal, Evernote, and Pinterest have already adopted Kotlin.

The creation of Kotlin began 10 years ago. In 2016, after alpha and beta testing, the first version was finally released. In 2017, Kotlin became an official language for building Android applications. Since it comprises a variety of useful features like null safety, coroutines, and extension functions, many programmers are migrating their apps to this technology.

Kotlin use cases:

  • Android application development (mainly)
  • Other: enterprise applications, web development, cross-platform solutions, server-side development

8. Swift

Swift is a general-purpose, secure, and fast programming language to build iOS and macOS applications. Providing full interoperability with Objective-C, it replaced it in being the primary tool for Apple-related digital solutions. 

Influenced by Objective-C, it was created with an idea of simpler syntax, better safety, and increased speed in mind. Swift offers numerous cool features, for instance, automatic memory management that allows avoiding memory leaks.

Announced by Apple at the WWDC (Worldwide Developers Conference) in 2014, Swift quickly became the most adorable technology for designing iOS applications. In accordance with StackOverflow Developer Survey 2019, Swift is the 6th most loved language among developers from all over the world.

The main use cases of Swift:

  • iOS applications
  • System programming
  • Deep learning
  • Internet of Things solutions
  • Client-side development (via WebAssembly)

The language enables mobile development teams to make high-performance apps that look amazing on any iOS device. It also suits great for implementing scalable projects.

Closing thoughts

As you can see, the described programming languages provide great functionality for building different types of software projects. They include the Internet of Things, Artificial Intelligence (machine learning, deep learning, natural language processing, etc.), cloud-native, data analytics, mobile and web applications, and more. 

Take a look at the table below that shows the level of popularity and use cases for each technology.

If you have questions about choosing the best programming language to make your app or website, feel free to contact us. With solid experience in delivering software development and consulting services, we will help you resolve all technical issues.