Which Programming Language?
A Comparative Analysis of 15 Languages Used for Web Development
The Internet plays a huge role in our lives. People can send messages, read the news, and use services such as Amazon and Facebook online because of the Internet. Simply put, the Internet is the infrastructure that connects millions of computers across the world. The modern Internet arose in the early 1980s, and its two most well-known pioneers, known as “the fathers of the Internet,” are Vint Cerf and Bob Kahn; however, the World Wide Web, which is what most people interact with when using the Internet, was invented about a half-decade later in 1989 by Tim Berners-Lee. The difference between the Internet and the World Wide Web is that the World Wide Web is a possible service because of the Internet. For example, the websites people visit daily, such as Google and YouTube, are part of the World Wide Web, but they would not exist without the infrastructure provided by the Internet. The World Wide Web can be accessed via web browsers, such as Google Chrome and Safari, and information on the Web can be found using search engines, such as Bing and Google.
As the World Wide Web grew, so did web development and web development software and programming languages.
Web development refers to creating websites for use on the World Wide Web. Two essential terms widely used in web development are front-end and back-end development. The front end, or client-side, refers to the part of the website that the user directly interacts with or what is on their screen. The back end, or server-side, refers to the website that the user can not see or what goes on behind the scenes. This distinction is vital because different languages are used for front-end and back-end development.
In total, it is estimated that approximately 8,945 different programming languages exist (“Online Historical…”). This begs the question, which languages should one use as a web developer? This paper compares front-end and back-end languages by evaluating them based on three categories: simplicity, performance, and popularity. The research shows that although some languages are more popular and widely used than others, choosing which languages to use to develop a website requires an analysis of that website’s purpose or sub-purpose and varies case-by-case basis.
First, simplicity is a significant factor in choosing whether or not to use a specific language to develop a website. Simplicity describes how easy a language is to learn and use. Along the same lines, it also explains how readable the code produced by a language is. Many times, especially within comprehensive technology or web service companies such as Microsoft and Twitter, web developers have to write code that will be shared with others, so using a simple language that produces more readable code will generally be more beneficial than a language that produces code that is harder to understand. Besides, more people will know the language because it is easier to learn, and more people will be able to implement the code in a larger project because it is easier to use.
Looking back at the numbers, it is evident why the languages are ranked the way they are by considering readability. C requires a deeper understanding of how the computer works because it utilizes low-level features, which are more difficult for a human to read, and C#, C++, and Objective C are all based on or inspired by C in some way. On the other hand, the simplest languages resemble the English language the most. For example, one of Python’s main merits is that it was designed with readability in mind (“What is Python?…”); in fact, Python will report whitespace errors, such as incorrect indentation and spacing, which are not checked for in many other languages and drastically improves the readability of code. All in all, the advantages of simpler languages are plentiful, and thus simplicity is an essential factor in choosing whether to use a language for web development. However, other factors must be considered as well.
Performance is also an essential factor to consider when choosing which language to use as a web developer. In brief, performance refers to how fast a language can execute instructions. Websites with a lot of traffic and client-server interaction, such as Facebook, use languages that facilitate high performance to handle the number of users they have. However, performance may be less of a concern on a less popular website. If the website’s goal is to become more popular, an easily scalable language should prevent the need to rewrite the server code in another language in the future. For example, as Twitter’s user base increased, the company had to transition from Ruby to Scala because Scala was more capable of handling the daily heavy load that Twitter faced. It was a laborious process; developers had to be retrained, and few Scala developers existed during the transition. Performance is a significant consideration in a language.
On the other hand, languages such as Perl and Python are interpreted. Their code is translated into machine code and executed line by line, all at runtime, which is generally a slower process. Performance is an essential factor in choosing a language for web development. High-performance languages allow web developers to handle more users and perform more tasks in a set amount of time. However, in addition to performance, the popularity of a language should also be considered.
The popularity of a language is essential when deciding which languages to use for web development. If web developers want to work for another company, they should be familiar with the most popular languages because those languages will most likely be in higher demand. Also, popularity usually reflects other desirable aspects of a language, such as simplicity and performance.
Since HTML and CSS are necessary for displaying websites, virtually every web developer is familiar with those two languages. The popularity of these languages is partly attributed to the features they provide. For example, C is popular because it allows programs to quickly access system resources, such as memory (Kumar). The popularity of a language can reflect the language’s merits and usefulness, which is an important consideration when choosing which language to use to develop a website.
Summary of Results
Here is a table presenting a summary of the results and the rankings of the languages in each category.
Takeaway on Programming Languages
All in all, the simplicity, performance, and popularity of a language give a good idea of its capabilities of that language. But other factors, such as website security, determine why they are better than others. Simple languages are more readable, high-performance languages can get more tasks done in a shorter period, and popular languages provide more tools and reflect how useful a language is thought to be by the community of web developers.
Considering all these categories, an idea of which language is best to develop a website can be formed. However, this process could be more clear and drier. As stated before, the best language or languages for a specific website depend on that website’s purpose and vary case-by-case basis. Some web developers may sacrifice simplicity for more performance, and some may sacrifice performance for simplicity based on their needs and desires. In the end, each language has its advantages and disadvantages, and it is up to the web developer to determine which language best fits their tasks.