Software development is a polyglot industry. If you go by the most often reported figure widely credited to Wikipedia, there are at least 700 functional programming languages out there.
Even then, Wikipedia’s criteria excludes ‘dialects’ of BASIC, mark-up languages and so-called ‘esoteric’ languages, which covers all kinds of weird and wonderful experimental and niche approaches to code.
Clearly, trying to put together a team of developers that can code in all 700 languages is a futile and unnecessary exercise on several levels. Every software house and Devs teams has to make choices – which of these languages do we really need to work in?
Likewise, prospective developers have to make choices about which languages they spend time learning and mastering.
Many of these decisions are job role, business or sector-specific and based on what you will actually be coding. Different languages are better suited or even designed for different uses like building mobile or web applications, database management, writing security scripts and so on.
But even so, certain languages are widely considered ‘must haves’ across a broad range of industries and Devs teams, either because of their flexibility, how common their main use is, or because they are seen as up-and-coming languages that are helping to reshape and improve development.
If you are running a development team, or if you are a programmer looking to update your skills, here are some must-have languages that will serve as a sound base across a wide range of disciplines.
If anything, though, Python is more flexible. Away from web-based applications, it is also widely used for building tools for data science as well as business-focused desktop applications.
Viewed as the heir-apparent to classic programming language Java, Scala supports both object-oriented and functional programming. It is sometimes viewed as the programmer’s programming language – compared to other static, strongly typed languages like Java, its syntax is very concise, allowing for a high degree of precision even when tackling the most complex functions.
Go & Rust
Finally, we’ve pooled these two together because they share many similarities and can largely be used interchangeably for the same purposes. Both are noticeably similar to C and C++, but with a range of modern updates and improvements.
Both are similarly ‘low level’ languages, involving very little abstraction – they are designed to essentially write instructions direct to the machine. This makes them both very well suited to building systems software, the kind of programmes that run the nuts and bolts of IT infrastructure ‘under the hood’, because they deliver fast run-times and minimise the potential for errors.
Go was developed internally by Google, Rust by Mozilla, and both are now enjoying a huge amount of popularity among other enterprises as key tools in systems and infrastructure development. Go is the simpler of the two to learn and use, but Rust has a reputation for creating very reliable, bug-free programmes because of its emphasis on ‘safe code’ features.