The Best Programming Languages for Web

The best programming languages for web are the ones we see having staying power. They are flexible, fast, and well supported. Here we talk about our recommendations for web, what we specialize in, and languages that would be great options for your next project!

Full Transcript Below: 

Cris:

Why do you think these languages have had the staying power that they have in the industry?

Andrew:

So you can build full stack applications using Django, which we do with Bixly also.

Cris:

What are you using some of these other languages for, that have probably been around for a very long time?

Andrew:

JavaScript engine is built right into modern browsers, so it can render things, it can make calculations and render things really quickly.

Cris:

We get to talk today about programming languages for the web.

Andrew:

The important stuff.

Cris:

Oh yeah, totally. What are some popular languages for the web?

Andrew:

Sure. Well, that’s a really super broad subject.

Cris:

It’s so broad, yeah.

Andrew:

I’m going to try to greatly distill this down.

Cris:

Right.

Andrew:

But you’ve got front end base languages that build the parts that you see and you interact with on your mobile phone, on your desktop, on your tablet. Then you’ve got backend languages that actually interface with your database. They interface with your server. They’re more behind the scenes.

Cris:

Got you. So what are some examples of some of those front end languages versus examples of the backend languages?

Andrew:

So the front end languages, some really popular examples now are all going to be JavaScript based.

Cris:

Okay.

Andrew:

So JavaScript is the underlying web language that’s used very universally throughout the front end, and really, since Node, has been used extensively on the backend too. So JavaScript based languages would be like React, which we use a lot at Bixly, Angular, View. And you know, there’s always new hotness is coming out. On the back end you’ve got Node, which is also JavaScript based. And then Python is just super versatile. So you can build full stack applications using Django, which we do at Bixly also. There’s are the ones like PHP and Ruby. I mean, there’s a lot of them. But you know, you realistically, you don’t touch all of them. You have a core tool set and use those.

Cris:

Got you. So one of these, what about some of these languages, say C-sharp, or are you using this for web? What are you using some of these other languages for, that have probably been around for a very long time?

Andrew:

Well, some of them are not used for web. Some of them are used for more like desktop applications and specialty applications and whatnot. But C-sharp is used, it’s a backend language. If you think of .NET core, you can write that in different flavors. You can write visual basic, which is less popular or NC sharp, which is much more popular. And .NET and C-sharp tend to be used in more enterprise corporate environments and whatnot.

Cris:

Got you. So for us, we obviously focus Bixly, on a lot of the website of stuff, mobile development. We specifically still try and tailor to web languages and then use Ionic to basically allow us to go that route for mobile. But we’re focusing primarily with Angular, React, again, some View, your Python and Node. Why do you think these languages have had the staying power that they have in the industry? Because we use those because they’re around and we feel that they have the staying power, but why do you feel like some of these languages have had staying power and have allowed people to continue to grow with them?

Andrew:

Well, I mean JavaScript, just because it’s so it’s so versatile. I mean, there’s really the push to have it be this one language that can be used on both the front end and the back end. The JavaScript engine is built right into modern browser, so it can render things. It can make calculations and render things really quickly on the front end. And it’s popular because it’s attractive to be able to be able to write for the front end and then already have a basic idea of how you’re going to, at least with the syntax is of doing now doing Node on the backend. And of more recent there’s even been this push to use JavaScript in mobile development. So you touched on Ionic earlier, you can use JavaScript based languages like React and Angular to write mobile applications or React Native.

Andrew:

You obviously use React in that or I think there’s native script. It’s like Angular. Anyways, you can do a lot of different JavaScript based languages for frontend, backend mobile and all that. So that’s really why in a nutshell, that JavaScript has so much staying power it’s because it’s so versatile. And then like Python too is also, it’s not the newest language, but it’s also, it’s just got a very broad amount of applications from front end to backend data science, to mathematics, to all these different applications. So ones that have a lot of staying power, I think are they’re really versatile ones. Like you see like Python and JavaScript and things like that.

Cris:

Got you. And again, you already touched on, they’ve been around, they have actually been around for a while. So they were obviously adapted into the industry. So again, they’re versatile, but then people still use them. Because there’s things that can be versatile, but it doesn’t mean you necessarily use them. So they do have real actual application in the real world and people are clumping onto them, which is obviously a good thing.

Andrew:

Right.

Cris:

So why should you care about the stack that you use as a client, why does that matter?

Andrew:

Well, you, as a client, don’t need to care about that too much. The developers that you hire to do your…

Cris:

Should care about that stuff.

Andrew:

And the reality is that no developer is going, or even development firm, is going to be able to specialize in all of these. I mean, maybe there are some. But you would have to be, it’s not practical, I should say. That a development firm or definitely a freelancer is going to have knowledge of all of these different languages and is going to be able to say, based on your needs, these are the exact words we should use. They’re going to specialize in certain ones, like a tool belt, right? And so going to be able to make recommendations based off of ideally, they’re going to make recommendations based off your best interest in what you need and what they’re most comfortable with.

Andrew:

We at Bixly, we have a pretty deep bench of skillset. And so we have multiple frontend languages that we do. We touched on Angular, React, and those are the primary two ones, also Django. And we can, based off the needs of your application and also your budget too and timeframe, recommend what’s best for that. In some cases, maybe you need to cut corners on a certain part of application for time or budgetary reasons. And we can recommend using something that’s simpler and faster to turn that up, whereas making the other part of your application more elaborate. And so really all that comes back down to your needs and, and the right tool for the job.

Cris:

Yeah. And that right tool for the job is that there are particular languages that can be a bit more lightweight. So there is something that you might be able to actually say, use, no JS on the backend for, because of the amount of lifting that your application’s doing. But you may not necessarily want to use that for something that has far more database and interaction, is a much more heavy application. You might want to actually go with a different language or a different stack. And so that’s where you’re saying we can come in and help give you some insight on that sort of stuff.

Andrew:

A really common example we see is people needing to have some administrative backend where they configure different settings for their application, and don’t necessarily want to take the time to build that out beyond just bare bones functionality. And so when we use Django, they have a tool called the Django Admin. That just makes it very easy to edit database records and in a fairly safe way. And also for us to secure things and say, okay, only administrators can see these pages. Then members can see this subset and then, the general public can see these, that sort of thing.

Andrew:

And so we can use a tool like that when a client just wants a simple administrative interface that doesn’t have a lot of bells and whistles. So that’s a good example of that. Or we also use Wagtail a lot with Django, which is a content management system when clients want to be able to edit page content themselves and things like that. So there’s definitely existing tools like that and frameworks that we can use to save time when it’s appropriate. And in other cases, maybe they need a really fully fleshed out administrative screen and it’s not appropriate to use that. We’ll use more of a Javascript based framework, like maybe, React or something.

Cris:

Yeah. That makes a lot of sense. Because again, that plays back to why maybe you might want a particular language or certain stack being stronger. Well, part of it might be, does that base language have a lot of frameworks that have been adapted over the years that are well-supported, that you can actually troubleshoot towards? And so that might be part of a deciding factor of do, I use PHP versus using Python versus using Java or Ruby or so on and so forth.

Andrew:

And the reality is your developers are going to have certain tools that they’re more competent than others. So one tool may be a little more ideal, but if they don’t have that level of competency with it, it doesn’t necessarily make sense to build using that tool set.

Cris:

Interesting.

Andrew:

So the right language for the job is going to depend on a variety of factors, but particularly, what your expertise is. Another thing to factor in too, when you’re selecting frameworks is, if you have your own development team, what can they support down the road? I know for us, we always weigh in factor in, can we bring on talent, that’s going to be able to support this language? And we don’t want to do something really obscure or something maybe like really cutting edge, even if it’s been proven to be reliable, if we can’t necessarily bring in people to support that in the future. So you got to be careful with, fringy, super new, cool, sexy things in that way. Because, you’re going to want to support this application most likely for many years down the road.

Cris:

Exactly. And so, yeah, us as a team being able to support is important for Bixly. But again, as a client, you need to ensure that, not only if you’re working with us, that we have the ability and the house to support it. But also if you’re trying to hire people internally or you’re going to be working with another third party consultant company that comes alongside us, how widely accepted is this language, this framework, this mindset of thinking? Because if it’s not, well, you’re running a risk that you could end up down the road and have no one to help.

Andrew:

Absolutely.

Cris:

That makes sense. Well, cool, Andrew, I appreciate you taking time. Hopefully it’s helpful for everyone and it gives everyone a little better understanding of how to go about deciding what tech you actually want to pick. The language is important for your web app project.

Alexandra:

Thank you for joining us for this episode of Bixly Tech Tuesday, where Cris and Andrew discuss the best programming languages for web technology. I hope you enjoyed their conversation and don’t forget to check out the links that we have in our description box down below. You can find a link to our free custom software guide, which will walk you through the process of planning out your own app idea. And you can check out our website, bixly.com. And you’ll see at the top, we have a validate my idea button, which means that you get a free 60 minute meeting with Cris to talk about your next step idea. I hope you enjoyed this episode of Bixly Tech Tuesday.