Considering a career as a developer?
The first step is deciding which programming language to learn. Programming languages allow developers to tell computers what to do. Each language comes with its own advantages, and many of their functions overlap. And with over 600 languages to choose from, it can be hard to figure where to start.
The good news is, there are a few languages that stand out amongst developers as go-tos for beginners. So, to make your decision a little easier, let’s explore 11 of the easiest programming languages to learn.
Just about everyone has heard of HTML, yet you may be surprised to learn that it’s known as a controversial programming language. That’s because HTML is technically a markup language — HTML stands for “hypertext markup language.” What’s the difference? Essentially, HTML isn’t capable of the basic functions of other programming languages, such as logic building, conditional statements, or even basic mathematical operations.
But just because you can’t create an IF-ELSE statement doesn’t mean you won’t be glad you dedicated time to learning HTML. As a markup language, HTML is the Internet’s standard language for structuring web pages and displaying text.
HTML is known for its extensive use of tags or labels that define what kind of text should be on the page. For example, the body text in this article would start with a <body> tag and end with a </body> tag. HTML tags define almost everything about the text on a web page, from font size to hyperlinks.
Who uses HTML?
Anyone who works with web pages should know HTML. This includes Front-End Engineers and Full-Stack Engineers. And, if you enjoy fine-tuning websites, then learning HTML will allow the most customization and let you go beyond pre-designed templates.
Why HTML is easy to learn
Because it’s so popular, there’s no shortage of HTML courses to get you started. The language itself is fairly simple, and HTML tags follow consistent rules that make it easy to learn new commands and functions.
If HTML defines the content of your webpage, Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) is used for defining the look of each HTML element. All of the different frames you see on a web page, including text boxes, background images, and menus, are coded in CSS.
Have you ever noticed how the same web page is organized differently when you’re viewing it on your phone versus on your desktop? That’s because CSS also controls which page elements are visible or hidden depending on the screen size and resolution.
CSS is a rule-based language, which means you define how different kinds of text and pages look by applying rules to each type of group defined in HTML. For example, you can use CSS to make all hyperlinks underlined in hot pink, while all level 2 headers are bolded and green. So, while CSS and HTML are used independently, the two languages complement each other to create web pages with customized content and style.
Like HTML, CSS isn’t considered to be a full programming language, but that hasn’t stopped it from becoming part of the unstoppable trio of web page languages.
Who uses CSS?
Because it works so closely with HTML, CSS is a must-know for Front-End Engineers as well as Full-Stack Engineers.
Why CSS is easy to learn
A basic CSS course will teach you the language’s fundamentals as you customize web pages. But if you’re interested in more advanced CSS functions, there are plenty of CSS templates and frameworks available — that is, pre-written CSS code that produces a certain page style and color scheme.
We can’t keep talking about easy programming languages without addressing the giant snake in the room. Python is consistently ranked as one of the most popular programming languages, and for good reason. From its conception in the 1980s, Python was designed to be a highly readable code that could be easily extended with modules well into the future.
People also really like Python because it’s a multi-paradigm programming language. This means that it supports different styles (paradigms) of programming. This includes object-oriented programming, which focuses on manipulating datasets (or objects), as well as functional programming — which focuses on using functions to perform complex or multi-step operations.
Who uses Python?
Python is a widely used application language, and you’ll find Web Developers using it for websites, applications, and games. At the same time, Data Scientists use Python because the language works well with retrieving and analyzing large datasets.
Why Python is easy to learn
It’s not often that a programming language is invented specifically with readability in mind. As you learn Python, you’ll discover that not only is everything meant to be simple, but complex code is frowned upon. Alex Martelli, a Python Software Foundation Fellow, puts it best: “To describe something as ‘clever’ is not considered a compliment in Python culture.”
Since it first appeared in 1993, R has become the go-to programming language for anyone interested in statistical analysis, data science, or data mining. While R is usually accessed through a command-line prompt, there are plenty of graphical interfaces available. Some of them allow people to use basic R functions without needing to learn any R code, which is one reason why the language is so popular.
R is open source, which means it’s free to use for personal or commercial purposes. This also means that there are thousands of user-created downloadable packages that provide functions well beyond the original code.
Some packages are for general functions, like data visualization. But most are designed for very specific professional functions, which is why R is so widely used. There’s an R package out there to fit your needs, whether you’re interested in general statistics, genetic sequencing, geospatial analysis, or anything in between.
Another strength of R is the knitr engine, which can produce dynamic, publication-ready reports and web pages that integrate R code with LaTeX, HTML, or Markdown.
Who uses R?
R is most popular among Data Scientists, Data Analysts, and Statisticians. But, more and more STEM professionals are drawn to R because of the many packages designed specifically for their fields and, sometimes, specifically for their companies.
Why R is easy to learn
At first glance, learning R might seem like a challenge as the language can take some getting used to, especially if you’re already familiar with other programming languages. But one reason why learning R is easier than other languages is because every R function comes with extensive documentation that includes explanations of each argument as well as example commands.
What do you call a Perl with a Lisp? A Ruby, of course! Yukihiro Matsumoto, the creator of Ruby, set out to create a language that incorporated the best elements of Perl, Lisp, Smalltalk, Ada, and Eiffel. And that’s how Ruby was born.
Compared to Python, which focuses on providing a single, simple solution for every problem, Ruby aims to allow multiple approaches that achieve the same end. This gives Ruby a sort of flexibility that programmers love.
Another reason why Ruby is so popular is that programmers can change even fundamental parts of the language to suit your needs. For example, if you prefer your mathematical operators to be spelled out instead of using symbols (“plus” instead of “+”), you can define that in Ruby.
Who uses Ruby?
Like Python, Ruby is a general-purpose language that’s especially popular with Web Developers, since it’s most commonly used to build web applications. But, you can also use Ruby for web scraping, command-line tools, automation, data processing, and more.
Why Ruby is easy to learn
Once you start learning Ruby, you’ll soon understand why it’s called the “language of careful balance.” And, because so many developers use and love it, you’ll find no shortage of Ruby documentation, community forums, and sample code available online.
One of the biggest advantages of Java is that it was originally designed to run in distributed environments like the Internet. That is, among multiple servers and computers. And, even though the language is old, Java is still relevant and cutting edge due to constant testing and updating.
Java developers can be confident that creating a Java application on one platform means that the application will work on all other major platforms too. The language’s flexibility also means that developers can use it not just on computers and mobile devices, but also in gateways, consumer products, or practically any electronic device.
Finally, Java is known for its reliability and security, which is yet another reason that developers are so attracted to it.
Who uses Java?
Not surprisingly, Java is a favorite among Front-End Engineers and Full-Stack Engineers. It’s also one of the first languages that Computer Scientists learn as an introduction to object-oriented programming.
Why Java is easy to learn
Learning Java is especially easy because its syntax is similar to English. Plus, you can count on a large support community to provide guidance and answer your questions as you learn Java.
We’ve focused so far on programming languages that help with front-end and application development, but Back-End Engineers have their favorite programming languages too — and PHP: Hypertext Preprocessor (PHP) is one of them. This language is widely used within HTML to quickly access and manage server-side content, including databases. In fact, many online forms use PHP to create new database records or update existing ones.
Another advantage to PHP is the built-in security it provides, as it can encrypt data and restrict access to certain parts of your website.
Between the ease of use, wide functionality, and security features, it’s not surprising that major companies like WordPress and Facebook use PHP.
Who uses PHP?
PHP is chiefly used to manage interaction with the server-side of a website, which is why it’s a staple programming language for Back-End Engineers as well as Full-Stack Engineers.
Why PHP is easy to learn
PHP is known for its simplicity and forgiving syntax. As you learn PHP, you’ll never be far from documentation and resources to help you along the way.
Go, or Golang, is a general-purpose programming language that Google originally developed as an alternative to C/C++. The result was a language that combines the faster performance offered by C/C++ with a simplified syntax.
As an open-source programming language, Go is used on servers, DevOps, web development, and even command line tools, as well as a variety of applications, such as cloud and server-side applications.
Who uses Go?
Computer Scientists and Application Developers who need to quickly develop high-performing applications turn to Go as the best programming language to get the job done.
Why Go is easy to learn
Go was designed with simplicity in mind, making it a beginner-friendly programming language. Check out our Learn Go course, created in partnership with Google, to get started with the language.
In 2014, Apple developed Swift as an alternative to Objective-C to use with macOS (MacBooks and iMacs) and iOS (iPhones and iPads). With its introduction, Swift presented many modern features that made programming significantly easier. Now, it’s the top choice of developers who build apps for Mac OSX, the Apple iPhone, Apple Watch, and Apple TV.
Who uses Swift?
Swift is a must if you’re a Front-End Engineer or Full-Stack Engineer interested in developing apps within the Apple ecosystem.
Why Swift is easy to learn
As with all of its products and services, Apple put a lot of effort into making Swift as intuitive as possible. Apple-centric developers love Swift because it’s easy to read and write. And as you learn Swift, you can even download a free app, Swift Playgrounds, that allows you to develop and test your own Swift programs while you learn.
Just a few years after the first generation of smartphones, app developers realized that they needed a powerful and fast language. Enter JetBrains, the company that first released Kotlin in 2011.
Kotlin is specifically for mobile development on the Android operating system, and has become the preferred language for Android applications. While Kotlin is fully compatible with Java, one of the benefits of Kotlin is that it generally allows developers to write less code than they would have to in Java.
Who uses Kotlin?
Any Front-End Engineer or Full-Stack Engineer who develops Android apps uses Kotlin.
Why Kotlin is easy to learn
In addition to being a beginner-friendly language, Kotlin is especially easy and quick to grasp if you already have knowledge of Java or Python. It’s also straight-forward for iOS developers to learn because it was built on the same modern concepts they already use. Get started learning the basics of Kotlin.
Learn smarter, not harder
Are there a ton of programming languages out there that make developers’ lives easier? You bet. Do you need to learn them all? Absolutely not. Instead, we recommend focusing on a few languages that are most helpful in your chosen career.
Not sure where to start? Our free course Learn to Code with Blockly will introduce you to the basics of programming, and we also take a closer look at some of the best languages for beginners in Choosing a Programming Language. And in Choosing a Career in Tech, you can explore different careers in the field to get a sense of which path might be right for you.
You could also try taking our sorting quiz! It’ll give you recommendations on which language is right for you. And our career paths include tailored course recommendations that take all the guesswork out of figuring out which programming languages help you be the most prepared to start your new career.