Are you considering a career in web development, but you’re not sure which programming languages to learn? The confusion is understandable—there are a lot of languages to choose from. But which languages you need to know will depend on what specialty you choose: front end web development, back end web development, or full stack web development. Let’s take a deeper look at each one of these areas plus the languages required by each specialty.
Front End Web Development
Front end web development deals with all the website elements that users can see and interact with, such as the text on the page, drop-down menus, images, and forms. The job of a Front End Web Developer is to program the outward appearance of the website according to project specifications while making it responsive, easy to use, and error-free.
Essential Languages for Front End Web Development
Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) is the standard markup language used to create documents that will be displayed on a web browser. HTML instructs the browser on how to display data on the page. These instructions often cover the layout of the page, fonts, colors, headings, title, tables, and graphics. HTML5 Boilerplate is the most popular HTML framework in use today.
Why HTML Is Necessary
The importance of HTML can not be overstated—it’s impossible to work in front end web development without using this essential language. HTML is the standard language used in the creation of websites and is supported by all modern Internet browsers including Chrome, Firefox, Edge, Safari, Samsung Internet, and Opera. HTML is so prevalent that it’s been used on at least 93% of all websites in the world. As the fundamental building block for all web pages, HTML should be the first language any potential Web Developer learns.
Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) is a language that’s used to style the text, color, buttons, and tables of a website plus structure how its pages are laid out. CSS allows for content and formatting to remain separate so webpages can adapt to different types of devices of various sizes. Some of the most frequently used CSS frameworks are Twitter Bootstrap, Tailwind CSS, Bulma, Foundation, Skeleton, UI Kit, Pure, Semantic UI, and Materialize.
Why CSS Is Necessary
CSS is necessary because, without it, webpages look awful. CSS easily adds style to boring webpages with just a few lines of code. And instead of coding each page of a website one by one, those few lines of code make it possible for styles to be applied consistently across an entire website, saving Web Developers an extraordinary amount of time.
If a website were to use HTML alone without incorporating CSS, it would just be text on a plain white background, which isn’t very interesting to look at. HTML and CSS must be paired together to create visually appealing websites. HTML is used to specify what content should be on the page while CSS provides all the style, including font type, color, layout, and more. When building websites, it’s practically impossible to create an inviting, interesting website without CSS.
Back End Web Development
Back end web development relates to elements on the server side of a website where data is stored and arranged. The role of a Back End Web Developer is to create, test, debug, and maintain all the technological components that support the front end of a website and allow it to operate.
Essential Languages for Back End Web Development
The choice of which programming languages to learn or how many to have in your skill set is completely up to you, but the more languages you know, the more job opportunities you’ll have access to. To help you develop a better understanding of these essential back end programming languages, let’s look at each one more in depth.
Python is an extremely versatile object-oriented high-level programming language. Its simple syntax, libraries, frameworks, and adaptability makes Python a popular choice for back end programming where it’s used to build desktop, mobile, and gaming applications. Python is also frequently used in emerging fields like machine learning, AI, data analytics, and task automation. Python frameworks commonly used in back end web development include Django, Flask, Pyramid, CherryPy, Bottle, and Falcon, just to name a few.
Why Python Is Necessary
Python is a necessary skill for Web Developers to have because it’s a popular general-purpose language that offers multiple functionalities; Python is not only an integral part of web development, it’s also widely used in data science, machine learning, artificial intelligence, commercial and enterprise applications, games, computer-aided design (CAD) applications, audio and video applications, and more. Thanks to its versatility, Python is used by a wide range of well-known companies like Google, Netflix, Youtube, Instagram, Yahoo, Reddit, and Spotify. The prevalence, popularity, and versatility make Python an essential language for Back End Web Developers to learn.
Java is a high-level programming language that’s widely used on server-side projects. Java is a versatile language and can be used in a variety of contexts, including desktop, mobile, and numerical computing plus business applications and games. Its most common usage is in the creation of applications, which can then be run on any computer with a Java Runtime Environment (JRE) installed on it. Popular Java frameworks include Spring, Hibernate, Struts, Grails, Play, Google Web Toolkit (GWT), Vaadin, and Apache Wicket.
Why Java Is Necessary
Java is a necessary skill for Back End Web Developers to learn because it’s a mature language that’s widely used; it’s been around for 20 years, runs on 13 billion devices, and is used by more than 10 million developers worldwide. Thanks to Java’s ability to run across platforms, it’s used in a wide range of devices including smartphones, tablets, automobiles, televisions, and Blu-ray players. It’s also considered the standard for enterprise computing with more than 90% of Fortune 500 companies using Java on the back end. That means Java won’t be going away anytime soon and you’d be wise to learn Java coding skills.
PHP (Hypertext Preprocessor) is a general-purpose scripting language that’s often used to add functionality to interactive web pages. One of the first languages that could be embedded directly into HTML, PHP is also used for managing databases, performing system functions, encrypting data, handling forms, setting cookies, and restricting page access. Most notably, WordPress—the most popular content management system in the world—is written in PHP.
Why PHP Is Necessary
PHP is necessary because it’s faster, more convenient, and more versatile than many other server-side languages; it’s reported to be three times faster than Python and works on a variety of operating systems including Windows, Linux, UNIX, and macOS. PHP also has a built-in database connection which allows it to easily link up with almost any kind of database, reducing the time it takes to develop web applications. Though the popularity of PHP has been declining in recent years, there’s no chance it’ll go away anytime in the foreseeable future—it’s just too prevalent to disappear; PHP is currently used on the back end of more than 78% of all websites including WordPress, Slack, Wikipedia, Etsy, and MailChimp.
Ruby is a high-level, object-oriented language that’s most commonly used to build web applications. A flexible, general-purpose programming language, Ruby can also be used in a variety of other ways such as prototyping, DevOps, data analysis, proof of concepts, web scraping, automation, static site generation, and more. Ruby is one of the easiest programming languages to learn and works across multiple operating systems including Linux, Windows, and Mac OS X. The most popular Ruby framework is Ruby on Rails; additional Ruby frameworks include Hanami, Grape, Cuba, and Padrino.
Why Ruby Is Necessary
The primary reason Back End Web Developers need to learn Ruby is so they can use Ruby on Rails. Ruby is considered one of the most time-efficient programming languages in existence when used in tandem with the Ruby on Rails framework; there’s no quicker or easier way to create web applications. This ease of use has made Ruby on Rails very popular among programmers. In fact, more than 57% of Web Developers surveyed by Stack Overflow in 2021 indicated that they love using Ruby on Rails. With the popularity of Ruby on Rails, it’s a good idea for aspiring programmers to learn how to use Ruby.
Full Stack Web Development
Full stack web development is the combination of both front end and back end web development; that means it deals with both the user-facing elements of a website plus all the technological components behind the scenes that users don’t have access to. A Full Stack Developer needs to have wide-ranging skills and knowledge of a variety of programming languages.
Essential Languages for Full Stack Web Development
Where to Learn Programming Languages
The best way to learn programming languages is to take web development classes through a well-established school like Noble Desktop. Noble Desktop offers in-person web development classes at their site in New York City plus live online web development courses that you can take from the convenience of your own home.
If you’re looking to launch a new career in web development, the best option would be to complete a web development bootcamp; these skills-focused programs operate on an intensive, abbreviated schedule to get you career-ready in a few short months. Noble Desktop offers several web development bootcamps live online including a front end web development bootcamp and a full stack web development bootcamp. To get started, all you have to do is enroll.