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Articles - Best Programming Languages for First-Time Learners


JavaScript, not to be confused with Java, is a scripting language that was developed in the 90s by Brendan Eich, formerly of Netscape Communications and now of the Mozilla Foundation. JavaScript is one of the fundamental technologies on which the web as we know it is based. Don't be fooled though—JavaScript exists outside of the browser as well, but largely in the context of connected applications and services. The language itself is dynamic, and gives programmers the flexibility to use object-oriented programming styles (as the language itself is mostly object oriented) as well as functional and imperative ones. It derives much of its syntax from C, and if you plan to do any development for the web in any fashion, learning JavaScript should be on your list.


When people discuss first programming languages and which languages are easier for people to pick up quickly, Python inevitably comes up. It was developed in the 80s by Guido van Rossum, who then handed the language over to the non-profit Python Software Foundation, which serves as the language's administrator, and the language is open source and free to use, even for commercial applications. Python is usually used and referred to as a scripting language, allowing programmers to churn out large quantities of easily readable and functional code in short periods of time, but it's also dynamic, and supports object-oriented, procedural, and functional programming styles, among others. Thanks to its flexibility, Python is one of the most widely used high-level programming languages today.


Oracle's Java is one of the web's longest standing, persistent, and influential programming languages. You'll find Java at the core of applications on and off the web, on all platforms, operating systems, and devices. It's a deeply featured class-based, object-oriented programming language that's designed to be portable and workable on as many platforms as possible. For that reason, it's also one of the world's most popular programming languages, which makes it incredibly valuable to learn if you're interested in learning to program. The flip-side to Java is that for all of its portability and applicability, it can be quite difficult to grasp, and quite difficult to program effectively and efficiently.


Ruby is a dynamic, open-source, object-oriented programming language developed by computer scientist Yukihiro Matsumoto back in the 90s, which makes it one of the youngest languages in broad use, much less in this roundup. It was designed to have syntax that was easy to read and to write by mere humans, without necessarily needing to learn a massive base of commands and specialized "vocabulary" in order to get started. While the language itself is object-oriented, it also supports procedural, functional, and imperative programming, one of the factors that makes it remarkably flexible.


One thing that's important about C and C++: They're both some of the most foundational languages in computer science and programming. If you learn them, they'll benefit you, even if you wind up not using them later. They'll give you insight into the beginnings and roots of computer science and computer programming, and while many people point out that learning either is like learning to drive by first learning to assemble a car, both languages have their pros and cons. Those of you who praised them as first-time languages noted this, and said you'll have a richer understanding of programming if you start with them, and one of you pointed to this great article about how the languages can separate good from great programmers pretty easily.