Which is the best programming language for beginners?
Once you have decided to take your first steps as a programmer, you quickly ask yourself which programming language you should start with. The choice is very broad.
Watch the following video to answer these programming beginners questions:
- Which programming language to start with?
- One of the most common questions we get on LearnProgramming is:
- “Which programming language should I start with?”
What the answer has to do with driving a car and why the language doesn’t matter in the end, you will learn now.
Much confusion with the first language
One of the first things you hear as a beginner programmer is that you need to know a programming language if you want to program.
And already you are on the search for programming languages.
- Which languages are there?
- Which one is the best?
- What can I create with it?
- How can I learn the programming language?
The first step is to listen to the 1000 opinions of programmers. Because every developer prefers a different programming language to learn.
Time that you learn to understand the whole thing, so that you can evaluate it more objectively.
What is a programming language?
Let’s first take a look at what a programming language actually is and how it came into being. A programming language is a tool to give commands to a computer. If you run several commands one after the other, it is a program. The program is translated into machine language.
This machine language basically consists of many arithmetic operations which are executed one after the other. When computers were as big as houses, i.e. when there were no personal computers, computers were operated by simple switches and punched cards. So in principle a computer can add nothing else than binary. (Binary: 01011111010101)
However, it does this so quickly and efficiently that this is the basis for all our current computer technology. For a simple addition, you first had to convert the numbers into binary numbers and then operate several switches.
Then you got a binary number, which you could then convert into a number readable for us. If you are interested in this topic, please comment below with “computer”, because we don’t want to go deeper into details here today.
Because the operation of these switches was so complicated and became more and more complex, the calculating machines were developed further and further until they became really useful. This resulted in a machine language, which was able to execute different operations one after the other.
But since this was still too complicated for many people and the creation of the machine language was very complex, programming languages were developed, which can be understood better by humans. So today we speak of different generations of programming languages.
Strongly simplified, a programming language is a tool to perform many arithmetic operations with switches. Remember that.
What do the individual programming languages look like?
Which language you start with depends on what you want to do first.
The following screenshots should show you how the different programming languages look like in a text editor. The code is not complete, but should show you how similar the programming languages are. What the code does there and what it really means, you can learn in our LearnProgramming courses.
C, C++, C#
C, C++, C# is mainly used in the server/desktop environment, so it is used for programs that run locally on a computer. C# was developed by Microsoft, the programming is done under Windows. With C and C++ you can program for many platforms like Linux, Mac and Windows, but also hardware near programming is done with C and C++.
Java is a language that runs on various platforms for which a Java Virtual Machine is available. There are people who say Java is slow. I don’t want to make a judgement about this, the speed depends on too many factors.
Java is also the programming language for apps on the Android platform. If you want to write apps for Android smartphones, Java is the right choice. You can write web applications, desktop applications and 3D games just as well. This language is really very versatile.
These languages are mainly characterized by an allegedly easier readability. Many beginners consider the language to be very easy to understand. “Experts” quickly dismiss Basic as a gimmick. In the early days of computer development, the BASIC language was developed to teach beginners the principles of programming.
BASIC is by the way an abbreviation for: “Beginner’s All-purpose Symbolic Instruction Code”, which means “symbolic all-purpose programming language for beginners”. But BASIC has been developed further. In Office programs like Microsoft Word, Excel, etc., you can use Visual Basic to extend the standard functions with your own functions. This is helpful if you want to automate certain tasks in Excel or Word.
Other programming languages
Of course, these are by far not all languages. Have a look at the TIOBE Index. This is a list with the most popular languages, which is always kept up to date. Python is the current trend for beginners. A few more programming languages I have listed here.
Are all languages equal?
If you restrict yourself to the modern programming languages of today, all languages can ultimately do the same thing. And here we come to our example.
“Which is the best car to learn to drive?” Imagine you want to drive from A to B in a car. If you don’t have a driver’s license yet and are just starting to learn to drive, it doesn’t matter what make of car you drive. The model, the motorization and the optional extras do not matter.
But there are exceptions:
- Some cars have small driving aids that help you learn to drive, for example. Or there are cars for a specific purpose, such as trucks or buses.
- For that you have to learn more specifically and get your own driving license. In principle, you have learned how to use the tool car to get from A to B. And once you have learned it, you can also drive another car relatively easily.
- And that’s why it doesn’t matter which programming language you start with.
Which is better for a beginner?
The fast convertible, where every dent costs a fortune, or the used small car, with which you can get anywhere and which is cheap to fill up? If you don’t have to watch your wallet, you can learn to drive a sports car. But maybe a little bit of previous experience is helpful, right? Now, which programming language is the best in the software sky?
I don’t want to overstretch the car example, so one last time: Ask in a car forum for the best car to learn how to drive.
Sure, everybody prefers what he learned with. For the reason, because that’s what he has learned the most. That’s why the answers you get to such questions on the Internet are so different.
Do you have to learn all programming languages?
To give beginners a little insight into what languages a budding programmer learns in this way, I briefly show my learned languages. I made the first steps and instructions in Quick Basic.
After the first attempts with C and C++ failed, my next step was to learn Pascal at school. With the knowledge I gained in this way I understood C++. During my education I wrote the first programs with graphical user interface (GUI) with Delphi/Object Pascal.
Once you have learned a programming language, you can switch over very quickly. The change from C# to Java is pure hard work, because you simply re-program a few code examples you know from C# in Java. The devil is in the details if such programming languages have special functions that are not available in other languages.
The rule here is: read documentation and work through tutorials.
Things you should consider when choosing
Start with a language that you can start with easily and without much installation. The language should give you the opportunity to do many small projects in the areas you are interested in.
Helpful, if this is possible with a programming language. No matter which language you learn at the beginning, at some point you will reach a point where you can’t continue working with the same programming language.
The reasons can be different: Either something is not performant, the language lacks a certain feature or it becomes too cumbersome to continue working with the language.
So you should always keep in mind that you can change the programming language as soon as it is necessary and the change is not a problem anymore, because you have already understood the basics.
Which language you choose depends on the purpose of the application. The language is nothing more than a tool.
You can drill a hole with a drill machine. Which drill head you have to use depends on many factors. But you can learn how to use a drill machine with any kind of drill head. To reach your goal, you sometimes have to try different drill heads.
And this for the following reasons: