Labor Day postscript: I am surprised to see that JavaScript and Python are now tied for first place in our poll (see end of this post). JavaScript is even beating Java by one vote (as this is being written: 20110905 14:40) as being one of the best programming languages for the next decade.

screenshot - computer programming with python
NOTE: As computer programming is now a subject of intense ongoing research, this post will be frequently updated. The dates of significant additions and revisions to this information are listed at the end of this post (after Resources).

I’m looking for solid answers to two important questions:

(1) What is the best computer programming language to learn first?

(2) Which computer programming languages would most likely provide employment opportunities for the foreseeable future?

This page represents an ongoing attempt to answer the second question. The ongoing analysis regarding which programming languages might be ideal for serious beginners is documented on a related page.

Here’s what I’ve been able to gather from a bit of recent research: a few of the top computer programming languages for the foreseeable future as far as I can tell, along with a bit of reasoning…

Programming languages of the future: Top choices so far

Java

logo - Java programming language, Sun MicrosystemsJava is extremely popular, meaning there will be lots of support needed for the foreseeable future. At present, Java is the #1 language in terms of the actual number of developers. Java is the language of the Android mobile operating system. Java ranks No. 1 on the TIOBE Programming Community Index for August 2011, as it has for many months. (According to the TIOBE stats posted on 8/8/2011, number 1 ranked Java had almost 4x as many searches as the number 4 ranked PHP. Java is incredibly popular.) [ Java training courses on Amazon ]

PHP

logo - PHP web/computer programming language

PHP is a top choice for web development and corporate applications. PHP is good for freelancing. PHP is ranked No. 4 on the current (August 2011) TIOBE Index.

PHP is high on my list because of previous web experience which should serve as a good foundation for a possible career or freelancing in PHP-oriented web and application development.

Python

logo - Python computer programming languageDynamic languages, especially Python, are being used to create cloud applications on frameworks such as Django. The Google App Engine is built with Python and originally only supported Python. The advantage of Perl and Python over PHP among the dynamic languages is that while PHP is a Web-only, server-side language, Perl and Python are both general purpose languages with usage in multiple industries, from aerospace and defense to sciences and to financial to hi-tech. Python is ranked at #8 on the most-recent TIOBE index. [ Python training courses on Amazon ]

JavaScript (along with CSS and HTML)

JavaScript is the language of the Web. It powers all of the popular Web browsers and that says it all. Recently, JavaScript has been ranked at #11 (July 2011) and #10 (August 2011) on the popular TIOBE Index.

JavaScript is on my short list for the same reasons as PHP: previous web experience might serve as a good foundation and head start. I already know HTML very well and CSS fairly well.

Poll: Vote on the best programming languages of the future

Please vote for the programming languages you believe will be among the best to learn for the purposes of future demand, future job security, freelancing, etc. The poll appears at the end of this post. (A separate poll is being created for the the best programming language for serious beginners.)

[ Please vote for up to three programming languages ]

TIOBE programming community index

The TIOBE programming community index is an ongoing monthly ordered list of the top 20 computer programming languages. The order of the programming languages is based on the frequency of web searches for the given programming language including Google, Google Blogs, MSN, Yahoo, Wikipedia, and YouTube. For example, the top 12 programming languages on the current TIOBE list (as of August 8, 2011) are:

  1. Java
  2. C
  3. C++
  4. PHP
  5. C#
  6. Objective-C
  7. Visual Basic/Basic
  8. Python (Python training courses)
  9. Perl
  10. JavaScript
  11. Lua
  12. Ruby

Technical background as a deciding factor

Obviously, one’s own technical/IT-related experience and knowledge will be at least one of the factors in deciding upon a programming language to learn for the purposes of future employment or freelancing.

The technical portion of my own background includes heavy HTML/XHTML coding, some CSS, and a little scripting (ColdFusion, JavaScript, ASP.net, PHP, and a few others). My actual programming experience is limited to BASIC, which I learned to use fairly well (many moons ago).

I have been involved in designing and modifying websites for just over a decade now. Although I’ve considered learning related programming languages such as JavaScript and PHP at various points along the way, I never did focus on programming for an extended period of time outside of ColdFusion. However, for the last couple of years I have been concentrating on what I love to do: writing-related tasks such as creating content, content-oriented SEO (search engine optimization), and other services that involve writing.

Conclusion

I’m still thinking about it. If I were forced into a decision today, I’d move toward Python (as my first language) and PHP (for my egg-laying goose in freelance programming).

Considering my background of delivering various web design and content related services, the most logical programming language for me to learn would be among those most closely related to web development. Programming languages most closely associated with web development include PHP and JavaScript; however, this is a growing category as web server standards become increasingly inclusive. I am still researching these things and will decide this after I’ve started learning my first programming language (either C or Python).

What is the best computer programming language to learn first?

A couple of programming languages keep coming up in current articles, forums, and posts as being the best “first programming language” for resolute beginners – for those who have decided they want a future programming career… programming languages that many believe best teach programming concepts… excellent foundation for learning additional computer programming languages in the future… [ read more ]

Resources: Best programming languages to learn for the future


Significant updates to this info occurred on:
Thursday, August 04, 2011
Monday, August 08, 2011
Monday, August 15, 2011
Thursday, August 18, 2011
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Which programming language(s) would be best to learn in terms of demand, job security, etc. for the next decade or so (up to 3 choices)?

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