The programming language you should learn next.

Denny Headrick
Aug 7 · 4 min read

What programming language should I learn? What programming languages are popular?

Such a common questions. And it has many answers. But almost no one answers it right. By the end of this post, not only will you know where I stand on this topic, you will know better where you stand on the topic.

Image for post
Image for post

Before you read any further, answer yourself one thing — do you already have a language in mind? If so, chances are that you are looking for some confirmation in this post that the language you are thinking about. If that’s the case, please stop. This post isn’t for you. What you’re looking for is a post that praises that language. Here are some searches to get you going:

And if you’re upset that the language you were thinking of isn’t in that list of searches, you really aren’t looking for my advice anyway.


Perhaps you’re completely lost and want an opinion. The Stack Overflow 2020 Survey had some interesting results for a variety of questions. And they all imply different things.

What languages do developers know?

JavaScript 67.7% HTML/CSS 63.1% SQL 54.7% Python 44.1% Java 40.2% Bash/Shell/PowerShell 33.1% C# 31.4% PHP 26.2% TypeScript
JavaScript 67.7% HTML/CSS 63.1% SQL 54.7% Python 44.1% Java 40.2% Bash/Shell/PowerShell 33.1% C# 31.4% PHP 26.2% TypeScript
Language | Percentage of Developers that Answered Yes | Weighted Donut Chart

What does it mean to know a language? It’s hard to say. The respondents likely had no consistency with their answers, but over a large sampling size, some of that inconsistency is likely to have been normalized.

Does having a lot of developers know a language mean it’s good? Yes and no. Such a large number of people knowing the language implies some demand and a lower level of entry. Languages that target the browser are in high demand and there are a lot of tutorials targeting those languages. SQL drives a lot of data storage. Python and Java are the most common languages taught in “Intro to Computer Science” classes.

You may want to ask yourself: do you prefer being in a large community or do you prefer to be a specialist in a smaller area. Depending on your personality type, both of these ends may be rewarding.

What languages do developers love?

Image for post
Image for post
Language | Percentage of Developers that Answered Yes | Weighted Donut Chart

Developers loving a language must be a good thing, right? After you see such a chart, you might want to look at Rust, but it may be difficult based on your experience. Additionally, a high level of interest indicates that there may be a higher level of competition.

What languages do developers hate?

Image for post
Image for post
Language | Percentage of Developers that Answered Yes | Weighted Donut Chart

Okay, what’s to hate with a language? You may see that VBA tops this list, but it’s unlikely that is caused by the language features. This language exists in an environment that has a low level of entry leading to some unmanaged codebases.

What language do I need to learn if I want to…

For a lot of people, it makes sense to learn based on what they want to do with the language.

  • Make games — JavaScript, Lua, C#, C++ (depends on the game engine)
  • OSs, Arduino— C
  • Data analytics — R, Python, Julia
  • Make mobile apps — Swift (iOS) / Kotlin (Android)
  • Build a website — JavaScript, CSS, HTML
  • Make a Windows desktop application — C#, C++
  • Make scripts and automate — Python, Bash, Powershell

Get Started

If you’re serious about learning how to program or learning a new language, get started. There’s likely a ton of learning content out there for the language you learn. Even if you decide you hate the language, you can always switch later.

Just code. You can do it. Trust me. There’s a lot of dumb programmers out there.

Welcome to a place where words matter. On Medium, smart voices and original ideas take center stage - with no ads in sight. Watch

Follow all the topics you care about, and we’ll deliver the best stories for you to your homepage and inbox. Explore

Get unlimited access to the best stories on Medium — and support writers while you’re at it. Just $5/month. Upgrade

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store