When we talk about web development and the programming languages used for it, let us first clarify the concept of web development. Web development caters to the complete process of making a mobile application, web application or any other similar interactive medium hosted server either publicly or privately accessible. To build and run these applications and make them respond as needed by the user, we need to program them with the help of various programming languages. These programming languages are nothing but a gateway to make the computer understand what we what it to do.
Talking of a programming language, we can briefly put it as a set up having two components- the semantics and the syntax. The syntax is the form or type whereas the semantics defines the behaviour of the syntax. Typically, there are about 8,500 languages that exist for programming and scripting combined. Each language has a different set of rules and approaches. This implies that the selection of programming language mainly depends on the following aspects:
- Server platform and the software being used
- Programming experience
- Choice of database needed
- Budget of the project
- Need of the user: database, front end or back end
- Number of users accessing the application
Well, in contrast to the number of programming and scripting languages mentioned earlier, though there is such a huge number present, only a handful of them are trending in today’s world; taking into consideration the need and other enhanced cutting-edge features complimented with the ease of programming. Let us peep into some of the highly used programming languages these days.
Following is a brief of some of the booming programming languages for web development:
Hypertext Pre-processor or PHP is a server side scripting language especially suited to web development. It helps in the creation of dynamic and livelier pages which interact with the databases beneath and give out the desired results. PHP is one of the languages that powers enormous sites like Facebook and it increasingly used for the creation of all responsive web pages and applications. Moreover, PHP is an open source language; meaning it is compatible with Windows, Unix, Mac as well as Linux based Operating System. Also, it is available free of cost and doesn’t require any form of Licensing. With PHP, it is easy to scale the system by adding more servers when needed. PHP is used for over 30% of web applications running over the internet which proves that PHP is easy to integrate with other applications. Due to its increased use, a large number of PHP frameworks are available such as Aiki, Symfony, Zend,etc.
Java is considered to be the hero of the modern world. Java is a powerful language supporting object oriented class based approach for programming. Programs build on Java are also platform independent and hence can work on multiple OSs; providing an upper hand in flexibility. Java is basically a client side programming language. Hence, for any webpage written in Java to show up on a device, the device must be equipped with the proper Java Runtime Environment. Huge applications over the net prefer Java as Java is more secure and uses dedicated server at most of the times.
Structured Query Language or SQL is a must for any programmer who wishes to interact with the databases such as MySQL, Oracle, and SQL Server. Knowing SQL, you can retrieve various processed results from the databases and present the users with their results based on the processing done on databases. For example, when we ask an online shopping website to show us all the dresses of black color, it is the programming done behind the click of “Black” color tab that does all the wonders! Moreover, SQL works on well-defined standards and requires more of logical skills over programming skills. Hence, a well-formed SQL query can retrieve a large amount of data from the databases in a very efficient way.
C is the father of all programming languages. C is comparatively older than C++, Java, Python or Ruby on Rails, nevertheless it is the most fundamental programming language mainly used to code system level software. C is supposed to be used by proficient programmers but is often taught to beginners in order to make them learn other languages easily and faster. Over and above its difficulties, C language has a strong built in the library containing operations and data types. This makes it easy to understand programming doe with C language.
C language is procedure oriented and doesn’t follow a strict type checking. Also, it is not checked at runtime. Hence, to overcome these short comings of C language, C++ was derived with a little variation in C language syntax. C++ is object oriented and supports the concepts of constructor and destructor. One of the greatest advantages of using C++ over C language is the ability to overload functions in C++. Hence, C++ is more in use these days.
C# (pronounced as C Sharp) is best defined as a multi-paradigm programming language; combining the goodness of Java and C++. C# supports reusable component, which stands as its greatest strengths. C# is one of the most recommended languages for the beginners as it hides the lower level details from the application developer and provides a huge store of library functions that can be used to do almost any kind of work needed. Despite its advantages of portability and independence, it lags behind as it is mostly developed and used for Microsoft and needs .Net framework to execute.
Python is one of the most common languages learned by the student, specifically in the United States. It is a server-side scripting language and is much more advanced having highly inbuilt functions and simple sorted syntax. It is highly flexible and works well with LINUX and Windows based systems. Moreover, programs written in Python eliminate the routine steps such as compile and memory managing as it is an automated task while using Python. Python has a number of frameworks to support it owing to the huge growth of Python in today’s market.
Ruby is also one of the easily understood and writable languages for novice people. It is an object-oriented scripting language and is simple but effective. Open classes, anonymous blocks and consistent object orientation are some of the distinctive features of Ruby over Python. Python and Ruby, though sharing similar kind of functionalities, hugely differ in their syntax aspects. Though Ruby provides more freedom to the programmers, many programmers prefer Python over Ruby just to make sure that they do not fall a trap to their own mistakes that they made using the excessive freedom provided; such as opening and rewriting classes at random.
HyperText Markup Language and Cascading Style Sheets are one of the oldest and the most fundamental languages used to design the front end of any web page. These are then supplemented with eXtensible Markup Language or XML for further manipulations in the databases and the interactivity with it. HTML allows the embedding of different languages into it; which is according to me the most powerful tool it possesses. Here, we need to be careful that HTML is not a programming language; in fact, it is a markup language used to design and provide shape to web content. CSS is the stylesheet language used to describe and define the presentation of contents written in HTML.
To wrap up with, the rulebook of using programming language in web development says just one thing loud and clear: “First Solve the Problem, and then write the Code”. Well, this means that picking up a programming language is not merely a game of comparing and contrasting on its features, pros and cons. It is a well-thought process of analyzing your needs and priorities in line with your requirements.
Be wise, choose well, keep coding, keep Designing and Developing! May be one fine morning you wake up and realize that you have created an absolute marvel!
Closing Note: Since its inception in 2005, ShimBi Labs is helping entrepreneurs turn great ideas into reality. We help startups to large companies building their web and mobile applications. ShimBi Labs is also the developer of CMS Budo, ShimBi Cart and MyBilling like very Innovative, Simple, Powerful yet Affordable products for small and medium size business.