Trying to understand what computer programming languages are and what they do be difficult, especially for people without a background in programming. This week, I went through and tried to explain in plain English what some of the most popular computer languages are, and how they are different from each other.
HTML + CSS
When designing a basic webpage, HTML and CSS are the go-to languages.
HTML is the basic language for creating webpages. It is the code that creates links, text, pictures, and other media. CSS is the code that determines how the HTML information is laid out. It gives the design of the website. HTML is like the backbone of a website, while CSS is like the appearance.
C is one of the most basic and older programming languages that is still used. However, these days it really only handles small and low level applications. C is still taught in schools because it is the basis for a lot of the other more advanced languages, and acts as a great learning tool.
C++ was developed to address the issue of C not having the ability to use Object-Orientation Programming. Essentially, before this point, most programs were lists of instructions that acted on memory in the computer. OOP allowed objects to interact with each other to carry out the intent of the computer programming.
C++ is one of the most widely used languages in the world. As a result, C++ developers are in high demand in the job market these days. Many popular applications have been built with this language, including Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, and all Adobe software. C++ is also used to build advanced games and operating systems like Windows.
Java is used to develop advanced projects like business applications and video games. It has a huge job market and is typically regarded as an essential language for every programmer to learn. Java is very similar in design to C and C++ as it was essentially designed to be a more capable version of those languages.
The reason Java is so special is because of its portability. Once the code is compiled, it can run on any machine where Java Virtual Machine is installed. It was the first code that could run regardless of the operating system and hardware.
C# is a Microsoft language. All Windows applications are built in C#. If you want to develop an app for a Window’s phone, it will require C#.
C# is essentially a combination of Java and C++. The idea was to create a programming language that combines the advanced features of Java, and the stability of C++.
Similar to how C# is designed for Windows applications, Objective-C was designed for Apple applications. All iPhone and iPad applications are written in Objective-C.
Objective-C was written to solve the same object orientation problem as C++, and was created around the same time. The reason Objective-C became so popular is due to the huge demand for iPhones and iPads in recent years.
PHP is an open-source language used to create dynamic websites. It helps create webpages more interactive by adding features such as password protection. Many famous websites use PHP such as Facebook and Yahoo.
PHP is easy to use because you can simply embed the code inside HTML. If that wasn’t easy enough, there are hundreds of other platforms like WordPress that can help you develop websites.
Python is similar to PHP in that it is a high-level programming language used to design large sites. It also has its associated frameworks that help to develop web based applications, such as Django. The difference with Python is that it is much more straight-forward code and relatively easy to learn. Python was not a very popular language until Google started investing in it about a decade ago.
Ruby is similar to Python in that it is a straight forward and readable programming language. Ruby is mainly used for developing web-based applications. Many programmers like to use it simply because it is fairly easy to use.
SQL (pronounced as sequal) is not a programming language like most of the other languages on this list. SQL is actually a language designed to view or change data in a database. Almost all applications use databases, and SQL is used to interact with that data.
This is just a very basic outline of a few of the more popular languages. There are hundreds of languages that programmers all over the world use. Hopefully this gives you a basic knowledge of computer languages.