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What's the most popular programming language in 2020? Python vs Java vs C

By Samantha Allen 26 Mar 2019

Learning a programming language is a sure-fire way to get yourself onto a fantastic career path. Investing in programming skills will easily pay off and result in a well-paid job. But there are lots of different programming languages around and some are easier to learn than others. Some are versatile and flexible, while some are more specific to a certain type of technology. In this article we review the 3 most popular programming languages as it stood in March 2019 & updated for 2020. Each of these languages/skills are in high demand right now and with the right training you should easily land a job and carve yourself a promising career path. So read on to find out what are the most popular programming languages to learn in 2020.

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Why is Java so popular?

Java has been one of the top 2 most popular programming languages for the last couple of decades. Java is 25 years old in 2020. If Java was a human it would be old enough to vote, drive and get married. But why is Java so popular?

Java is a versatile language and its developer was ahead of his time in developing a language that could work on consumer appliances - now known as the Internet of things (IoT).

Java can run programs on several types of computers including PCs running Windows, Macs, Unix or Linux computers, large mainframe computers, and mobile phones. Java will work on any computer device as long as there is a Java Runtime Environment (JRE) installed.

An established language, Java has a solid reputation, attracting some of the biggest companies in the world to use it. Although an “old” language, there’s no sign of Java declining in use as it has constantly evolved and combines stability with innovation.

What is Java used for?

Amongst other things, Java is used for making Android applications which has helped Java to become more popular than ever in recent years.

As the original Java developers had the goal of creating a programming language that could run on any device - including refrigerators and toasters - we now have the devices that benefit from this code, and this will likely become even more popular in the foreseeable future.

Is Java the best language to learn first?

While there isn’t necessarily one specific language that you should definitely learn first, it’s worth noting that Java has inspired other languages and therefore shares some similarities, making it easier to transition into another language later on.

The creation of Java was influenced by the existing programming language C and C++, so they have syntactic similarities. This means that if you’re familiar with Java you will find it easier to pick up other languages such as JavaScript, C# or C++.

Java is a statically typed language, as opposed to a dynamically typed language, which means that there is an extra layer of code that you need to think about. So it’s more complex to learn than a dynamically typed language such as Python, but you’ll benefit in the long run.

It’s a bit like learning to drive a car. If you learn to drive a manual gear car you’ll have more to learn, but you ultimately know more about driving and have more control over the vehicle. It’s also easier to adjust to driving an automatic car later, as there’s simply less to think about. It would be much harder to adjust to a manual car after only learning in an automatic. Likewise, it would be harder to transition to a statically typed language if you’ve only ever used dynamic.

Book a training course to learn Java HERE.

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Why is Python so popular?

Python has been one of the top 5 most popular programming languages over the last few years. Released in 1991, Python is a general-purpose language which is designed to be simple to read and write. Python is one of the easiest languages to learn - if not THE easiest. It’s so accessible that it’s now taught to kids in school. Unlike many programming languages, Python’s syntax is concise and easily read by humans.

Python programs are slower to run than Java and C, but they also take much less time to develop, as Python code is generally much shorter. These days it’s more cost-effective to save developer time and invest in bigger servers to compensate for the slow speed of the application. As well as saving money on developer time, a shorter development process can result in faster innovations, allowing companies to get ahead of their competition by releasing things faster.

What is Python used for?

Python is an extremely versatile language, which is one of the reasons why it’s so popular 28 years on. With Python you can build Raspberry Pi applications, create scripts for desktop programs and configure servers. The language is used for scientific modeling, system operations, web development and much more.

Although Python has been around for almost 3 decades, it’s widely used for some of the most popular technologies right now in 2020, including machine learning/artificial intelligence (AI), robotics and Big Data.

Is Python the best language to learn first?

It’s definitely a good choice as a first language. Once you pick up the basics of coding in Python, your skills will never become outdated. Python is likely to be around for a long time, and starting salaries for Python-skilled programmers can be amongst the highest.


You may be surprised by how easy it is to learn Python and many experienced developers choose to learn Python as their second or third language. There are courses available for both beginners and advanced programmers.

Book a training course to learn Python HERE.


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Why is C such a popular programming language? C, C++ and C#

We’ve established that both Python and Java are in their twenties. However, C is 43 years old in 2020 and has been in the top 2 languages consistently for the last decade. Originally created to make utilities run on Unix in 1972, C gradually gained popularity throughout the 1980s to become one of the most widely used programming languages in the world.

Many languages have been inspired by C, including Go, Java, JavaScript, Objective-C, Perl, PHP, Python, Rust, and Swift.

What is C programming language used for?

Many things are written in C because the code runs fast, and it’s very flexible and versatile, allowing maximum control with minimal commands.

C was designed to encourage cross-platform programming, meaning it will work on different devices and operating systems (similarly to Java), from microcontrollers such as remote controls and medical devices, to desktop computers and supercomputers.

“Most of the Software in Tesla cars is C or C++,” said Mehdi Amini, Engineering Manager at Tesla.

Some of the most popular databases in the world have been written in C, including the Oracle database.

Is C the best language to learn first?

C is the base language of most advanced computer languages, so once you’ve mastered C programming you can then easily learn a variety of other languages.

Although it’s extremely powerful, C is not the easiest language to learn if you’re new to programming. As the oldest of the 3 most popular programming languages, C shows no signs of becoming out of date or redundant. It’s worth learning if you’re willing to put the effort in, and you’ll have a healthy career ahead of you.

Book a training course to learn C programming HERE.

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What about C++ and C# - the popular C spin-off languages?

The popularity and versatility of C has resulted in a range of spin-off languages, including C++ and C#.

Despite its name, C# is much more similar to Java than C. Microsoft created C# as a rival to Java, which is why it has far more in common with Java than C or C++.

C++ is a good language to learn once you’ve mastered another language. For example, if you already know Java, you can take THIS COURSE to learn C++.


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So which language is best to learn - Python, Java or C?

There’s no right or wrong language to learn, as each of these languages will set you up with brilliant career prospects. If you have an interest in developing PlayStation or Xbox games, C is the best starting point. If you’re interested in developing web software, Java or C# are the best fit. If you’d like to focus on Android apps, Java is best. If robots and AI are more your thing, Python is your best option for sure.

Learning your first programming language will always be the hardest step, but if you learn it the right way then you’ll easily be able to transition to another language later down the line.

Book onto a training course to learn the fundamentals of programming to become a software developer. All of our courses will give you face-to-face access to an expert instructor who can answer all of your questions on the day.


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