Types of Programming Languages: A Guide to Understanding Coding
As the software development job market continues to grow, coding has become a bigger part of the national conversation. Even if you’re not considering a developer job, you’re still relying on many different types of coding languages every day to accomplish basic tasks.
Whether you’re playing games, checking the weather on your phone, or using an image editing app, these languages are what make your tech needs a reality. If you want to learn about the different types of coding languages, check out our guide below. You can learn to code in only a few weeks if you know where to start.
What Are Coding Languages and What Are They Used For?
A coding language is a written language that people use to instruct computers to perform a task. These tasks can be as simple as producing a letter on a screen when a button is pressed or as complex as running an application that regulates oxygen for a space station. Different coding languages are more useful for different applications.
For example, data scientists tend to use Python, but app developers use Java or Swift more often. Your career in software development will determine which of the popular programming languages you’ll study first.
How Many Coding Languages Are There?
There are at least 274 active coding languages, according to the TIOBE Software Quality Company, but only 50 are widely used. There have been thousands of languages that can be considered programming languages throughout history, but most of them have fallen out of common use or been replaced by more intuitive modern iterations.
Types of Coding Languages
There are many different types of coding languages, and they mostly fall under either high-level programming languages or low-level programming languages. Most of the more popular modern programming languages you’ll encounter are object oriented. Take a look at the most common types of coding languages below.
Low-level coding languages are languages with little to no abstraction, meaning that they’re closer to machine language than human language. Machine language is a language that computers understand, which you may not understand if you tried to read it.
Every programming language eventually translates your instructions to machine language anyway, but low-level languages skip the interpretive step to avoid any possible ambiguities. This means they are harder to understand, but you have more control over your results long-term when building an application from scratch.
As we mentioned above, machine language is the instruction set that all code is eventually translated into. This binary code involves 0s and 1s that the machine’s central processor translates into actions. Programmers who know how to code on this low level of abstraction have almost complete control over anything a CPU can do.
Assembly language adds a level of human readability to machine language. Instead of programming in binary code, coders can write detailed instructions in their language of choice. From there, the program is compiled by an assembler, which translates them into the source code that the machine can understand.
High-level languages are easier for humans to understand due to their high level of abstraction. The common programming languages that you can learn at coding bootcamps and colleges fall under this category. A high-level language can help you get your first job in the field.
These modern languages are human-readable, so they’re much easier for beginners to learn and for teams to use. Problems can be discovered much more quickly because the code is more clear to the human eye. These languages can be used for many different purposes in the tech world.
PHP is a scripting language that governs a website’s backend database, allowing developers to load more elements onto their site. They can add information to a site’s data structure or bring existing information to the user. This is one of the most popular coding languages for beginners as it’s an easy way to link front end and backend technology.
Python is a programming language that was built especially with human readability in mind, making for some of the most efficient code experiences possible. This language is especially popular for applications that require a machine to handle data, from database systems to artificial intelligence.
Swift is a programming language developed by Apple to modernize development across all of its software platforms, including iOS, macOS, and tvOS. This programming language is the result of Apple’s efforts to phase out Objective-C. Several Swift libraries improve functionality to simplify networking, UI design, and more.
Object Oriented Languages
Object oriented languages are languages that classify different elements into adaptable structures that can be reused throughout a project. Most of the popular programming languages that we’ve covered in this article are object oriented languages, and these languages owe much of their popularity to their simplicity.
Objects are made up of classes that have attributes. Classes define a general item, and the attributes of this item provide more information that helps distinguish it from other objects. Programmers then use an object oriented language to instruct machines to perform tasks on these objects.
Almost every popular programming language in this article is in the C family of programming languages. C was one of the first programming languages to add high-level functions to low-level languages. Programmers have used C to build everything from simple operating systems to self-monitoring cars.
C# is a programming language developed by Microsoft to run in its .NET framework. This language is most popular in the game programming sphere, with Unreal, Unity, and several other game engines using C# code. This language also has many different business applications, especially for desktop software.
What Coding Languages to Learn
However, the different types of common languages and their uses give you almost unlimited options. If you want to work as a game developer, C# and Java are great coding languages to learn. If you want to build artificial intelligence or other data structures, Python may be better suited to your needs.
How to Learn Coding Languages for Beginners
You can learn coding languages from the comfort of your home with online courses, coding bootcamps, and degrees. Only a couple of months of education can be enough to get your first coding job. According to PayScale, entry-level software developers can expect a salary of $63,257, which is a great place to start.
With a coding bootcamp, you generally pay less and have a quicker turnaround that allows you to enter the workforce with less debt. However, colleges allow you to study your preferred type of programming language in-depth. Whichever option you choose, you have a wealth of great options to help you start your tech career.