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How to choose a programming language for your startup 

Tomasz Winalife

Tomasz Marcińczyk | Product Manager

04 February 2021 • 10 min read

How to choose a programming language for your startup

Choosing a proper programming language for your venture might look scary and hard. After all, it is something that many IT companies struggle with. The wrong choice of language can indeed lead to serious consequences. It can not only be a problem to find someone, who can code in a chosen language, but it can also burn a lot of your money and cause some technical problems in your application. 

 

Complete list of programming languages

There are around 600 programming languages but only a few of them should be considered for your new venture. Many of them are very similar and differ in minor details like syntax, but some of them might have a huge difference in development speed or the cost (how much developers charge for coding in them) as well as the availability of developers.

The complete list of programming languages

Fortunately, we have written the entire article to compare the most popular programming languages out there. So let’s start! 🤙

How to assess the popularity of programming languages?

Assume you want to do your research. Perfect! There are a few tips for you on how to do this.

The popularity of the programming languages c can be measured by a few methods:

  1. Popularity by Usage.
  2. Popularity by Job Postings.
  3. Popularity by Salary.

 

Popularity by Usage

pylp
There are many different sources, but the most trusted one is the PYLP index. The PYLP is a PopularitY of Programming Language index created by analyzing how often programming language tutorials are searched on Google. The more often a programming language tutorial is searched, the more popular a language is. 

According to the PYLP index, from Jan 2021 compared to a year ago, the most popular programming languages are:

RankLanguageShareTrend
1Python30.44%+1.2%
2Java16.76%-2.0%
3JavaScript8.44%+0.3%

The complete PYLP index list

The data for this index comes from Google Trend.

You can compare any Programming language yourself but the important tip is to choose proper settings like Search by Whole World and the same categories, like JavaScript Programming Language and PHP Programming Language.

google search

tiobe logo

Another very important survey is the TIOBE index

The TIOBE Programming Community index is an indicator of the popularity of programming languages. The index is updated once a month. The ratings are based on the number of skilled engineers world-wide, courses, and third-party vendors. Popular search engines such as Google, Bing, Yahoo!, Wikipedia, Amazon, YouTube, are used to calculate the ratings.

The index can be used to check if programming skills are up to date or to make a strategic decision about what programming language that should be used when starting a new venture.

According to the TIOBE index, the most popular programming languages are:

RankLanguageShareTrend
1C17.38%+1.61%
2Java11.96%-4.93%
3Python11.72%+2.01%

The complete TIOBE index list

 

stack overflow logo

Last but not least, we should take a look into the Stack Overflow Survey from 2020.

Stack Overflow is a community for everybody who codes. In February 2020 nearly 65 thousand developers conducted the survey. For the eighth year in a row, JavaScript has been considered the most commonly used programming language.

RankLanguagePopularity
1JavaScript67.7%
2HTML/CSS63.1%
3SQL54.7%

The complete Stack Overflow survey

Popularity by Job Postings

The next metric to assess language popularity is by Job Posting. This is very important because it will indicate how many developers there are in the market that you can hire. The less popular the programming language is, the more difficult it will be to hire new developers. 

Especially when your startup is not a well-known company and you don’t have a significant budget on HR and Branding, we highly advise you against using minor popular languages in your project.

If you already have a CTO or some freelancer who knows a particular language, it might not look like a big deal for now. But when you decide to increase your development team it may be time consuming and not an easy job to find available and experienced developers on the market. It can be also difficult to find a replacement for your programmer.

Probably the last thing you want to happen is to get stuck halfway with your project just because your developer resigned and you cannot find anyone who can code in the app language!

The information about the popularity of programming languages can be found on job search websites.  One of many may be Indeed, itjobswatch, or any other.

Based on the few sources available, it is easy to defined the, top 3 programming languages:

RankLanguageJobAds
1JavaScript19.60%
2SQL18.88%
3Python14.71%

The complete itjobswatch survey

 

Popularity by Salary

Last but not least, language popularity can be defined using the Salary metric. For a startup which most often pays its developers with shares it may not matter that much at the beginning.

But whenever your business grows and you decide to hire developers full time, it may shock you that some programming languages are much more expensive than others.

Choosing a less popular and more expensive programming language for your project may create many problems in the future when growing your business or it can even kill it. 

Here is the list of top paying technologies globally:

RankLanguageMedian
1Perl$76k
2Scala$76k
3Go$74k

The complete Stack Overflow survey

 

Summary

We highly recommend you to make your research based on the country you are building your startup in. It is even more important if you don’t plan to hire developers from abroad.

Our recommendation is to use 3 of the metrics, presented in this blogpost::

  • Popularity by Usage
  • Popularity by Job Postings
  • Popularity by Salary

Based on these the best languages for your startups are Javascript and Python. However,  your choice should also depend on your project type. 

For example, for a simple Website, you may better choose WordPress which is built in PHP language. If your project is hardware, then the best choice would be using C/C++ languages. And if you plan to build a cryptocurrency then the best choice might be using Solidity language. 

Also, remember there can be many pitfalls, you might not be aware of in the beginning, some of them are:

  • Technical issues with your application
  • Lack of skilled developers in your language
  • Too high costs 

To avoid them, you should work only with a trusted partner or with a developer who has experience in building similar projects that you want to create. It’s a good idea to approach your developer’s programming language choice with a pinch of analysis. As sad as it is, it can turn out that he has chosen the most expensive language or the one, which is not the best choice for your project type. You should do your research and measure the pros and cons of your programming language.

If you are looking for a trusted partner to build your next venture you can contact us at contact@winalife.pl.

In the next blog post we will write more about the use cases of programming languages. Stay tuned! 🤙

Read more from Series 1: All you need to know before launching a startup.

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