Best programming language to learn in 2017

An update of the most popular and in demand computer programmes.

In the two years since we last examined this topic, there has been growing demand for software developers. According to the
United States Bureau of Labour, software development jobs has been and will continue to be the fastest growing segment of all occupations. However, due to the fact that everything around us is becoming digital, increasingly, the Average Joe also needs to have some basic coding knowledge, if only to improve their marketability, job-wise.

To be clear: there are scores of programming languages out there. Some that are highly specific to certain purposes; others that can be used more broadly. Depending on your field, it may be prudent to identify those that could further your development in that field, whilst also bearing in mind having a general knowledge of programming is becoming increasingly important.

What are the programming languages that are in demand?

As highlighted in Exhibit 1, the Java, JavaScript, and the C family (C, C++, C#, Objective–C) dominate the top 10 most popular, or most in demand programming languages for 2016/2017. To considerable degree, these languages are the bedrock of a lot of the software applications that we take for granted, which is also why year on year, developers which those skills continue to be in demand. Having said this, they can be some of the most challenging to master, which has resulted in newer languages that are simpler to learn, gaining a foothold and offering a more attractive alternative.

Exhibit 1: Top programing languages for 2017 (Sources: Tiobe, IEEE, Stack Overflow, PYPL Index)

It is also worth noting that in addition to what we term here ‘generic programmes’ – those that can be used for a broad range of purposes and applications, the list also includes some specialised languages. The growing popularity of those languages tends to corroborate other trends that have emerged over the past few years, and may continue to gain prominence in the years to come:

  • R. Although R has been around for around 20 years, it was used by those who manipulated data, such as statisticians. However, in the context of big data and data analytics, R has come into its stride, and to some degree has eclipsed other heavyweight and longstanding tools, such as Matlab and SAS, based on ease of use.
  • Go,  Created by Google, Go is a free and open source programming language, which was developed as an alternative to C. Off the bat, and when compared with C, Go is simple, fast and friendly. Further, several well known websites and companies, including CloudFlare, Dropbox, Google, Netflix, and SoundCloud, to name a few, are using Go, which augur well for its continued use into the future.
  • Swift. Swift was created by Apple for use on its for iOS, macOS, watchOS, tvOS operating systems, and as an alternative to Objective-C. Swift is a more modern language when compared with Objective-C. It is thus easier to read and write, which especially beneficial when pages and pages of code must be reviewed. Further, with the continued popularity of Apple, generally, and its devices, there is likely demand for developers who are proficient in Swift.


Image credit:  Pexels


1 Comment

  • Hi Michele,

    R is only as good as the analyst (which I guess applies to most tools). I killed it recently with a combination of mapinfo and Access. These tools need experienced users, but very powerful when used properly. Would not call it a programming language

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