The Major Types of Programming Languages (2022)
Everything You Wanted to Know About The Major Types of Programming Languages.
Did you know that computers can’t just understand plain English? While people can easily communicate using plain English, computers are complex innovations that need you to be very specific when communicating with them. We all know that English can sometimes be unclear, meaning it can be challenging for the computer to determine intent (1). You have to input a specific command about what you are asking the computer to do for you.
They are tools that allows computers to respond to specific requests. Today, programmers use different programming languages that help them specify the exact types commands they want the computer to execute.
And that begs the question, how do computers think? If you are considering a career in computer programming, you probably have already done some research and learned that all digital computers depend on a binary system of ones and zeros. They also rely on the rules of logic that English mathematician George Boole set out back in the mid-19th century. In other words, computers consist of numerous tiny switches. These small switches can be either on or off.
A 1 represents a switch that is on, while the other hand, a 0 represents a switch that is off. These 0s and 1s are bits, which are the fundamental language of practically all computers. That explains why programmers must translate every program into bits before the computer can execute it. A digital computer can mechanically use wheel or lever positions to represent these binary digits (bits). Alternatively, it can do it electronically with current or voltage.
That’s just the basics of computers. If you want to learn new skills in computer programming languages or build a career in programming, then you should know more than just the ones and zeros. In this insightful piece, we will help you stay informed and updated about everything regarding the different types of programming languages that exist in the world of software development.
But first things first! What are programming languages?
What is Programming Language?
Simply put, a programming language is a system of notation that software developers and programmers use to write computer code programs. Sometimes the duties and job description of a software developer can vary depending on the project. Although most programming languages are text-based formal languages constituting a set of instructions that generate numerous output kinds, some may also be graphical.
Five Major Types of Programming Languages
With technology advancing rapidly, programming has become one of the most sought-after skills in today’s job market. The more we interact with technology, the more we learn the basics of how software functions, which is helpful. Why? A background in programming can help you secure a highly-rewarding job in designing software, creating intuitive user interfaces, coding, data architecture, etc. Coursera.org said is best (2):
“Programming is a skill that is becoming increasingly sought after in the job market. Having at least a basic understanding of how software functions is helpful for anyone who interacts with technology…”
The question that most beginners ask is what language they should learn to become expert code programmers. Luckily, you only need a laptop and a stable internet connection for many programming languages because they are free to learn online. After learning, you can also develop projects with these programming code languages online. Since the internet is excellent for starting when you want to discover a new skill or explore new developments, why not use it to familiarize yourself with some of these languages? In additon to leanring the lanugauges, a software development process is also very important to follow when building out a new, or working on an ongoing project.
Programming languages are typically categorized into a few kinds but can support multiple programming styles. Numerous programming languages are implemented as the technology field grows exponentially every year. But let’s face it! Only a few of them have become very popular, to the extent of being used by professional software engineers or programmers.
The existing programming languages fall into five major categories, as discussed below;
Procedural programming languages
Procedural programming languages are unique because they typically follow a sequence of commands or statements to attain the desired output types. In addition to Procedural language is among the most common programming languages used today, it is also one of the oldest. ALGOL and Fortran were some of the earliest procedural programming languages. Together with others like BASIC, COBOL, and PL/I, these two types appeared from 1957 to 1964.
Pascal, Java, C, and C++ are other common examples of procedural programming languages. At Sonatafy, you can learn C before C++. While some people think that C++ somehow depends on C, we tend to take that as just a common misconception. In reality, C++ and C are two different code languages.
Functional programming languages
Another major category of programming languages is functional programming languages. As their name suggests, programmers specially designed Functional languages to handle symbolic computation while listing processing applications. In other words, they focus on the output of mathematical functions and evaluations instead of on the execution of statements.
That is to say, this category of programming languages is typically based on mathematical functions. Each function is a reusable module of code that performs a specific task before returning a result. It is essential to note that functions exist in all higher-order programming languages and are fundamental to code organization. Python, Haskell, Lisp, Erlang, Clojure, and Scala are popular functional programming languages.
Object-oriented programming languages
This programming paradigm existed on objects containing both code and data. The programming languages in this category treat a program as a group of objects constituting data and program elements. They mimic many real-world attributes of objects, while it is possible to reuse objects within a program or in other programs. For that reason, object-oriented programming languages are popular for complex programs simply because it is easier to reuse and scale code. Ruby, Java, C++, Python, and PHP are some of the most widely used object-oriented languages in programming.
For example, In the 1980s, Guido van Rossum, the creator of Python and a computer scientist and academic, saw an opportunity to build a better programming language. And today, the least we can do is appreciate his contributions to the code programming industry.
Scripting programming languages are popular for executing tasks like managing dynamic web content and automating repetitive tasks. Programmers also use this popular programming language type to support processes in larger applications. By definition, scripting languages are languages that programmers use to manipulate, customize and automate an existing system’s facilities. You can use this specific computer language to instruct other software, including a web browser, standalone application, or server. Some common code scripting programming languages are Ruby, Bash, Node.js, PHP, Python, and Perl.
Logic programming languages
Prolog, Datalog, Absys, and Alma-0 are typical examples of Logic programming languages that can express a series of rules and facts to instruct the computer on making decisions. Prolog is the best-known logic language in programming. It defines a program as a set of logical relations.
Front-end vs. back-end languages
Beyond the above five categories, there are multiple other ways that we can classify various code programming languages, like front-end and back-end programming languages. At Sonatafy, we have experienced front-end developers that address the front-end part of the software. This is the part that the user will interact with. Think about all the buttons, navigation, text, images, and colors the user will interact with when navigating your application or web page.
High-level vs. low-level languages
On the other side, low-level programming languages like machine code and assembly languages are highly-efficient when it comes to memory usage primarily because they are machine-friendly (3). However, they are often challenging to understand, especially if an assembler is nowhere to help out. Different from high-level languages, low-level programming languages are not popular anymore, mainly because they could be more human-friendly.
Bottom line: The main differentiating factor between low- and high-level programming languages is that one appears to be easily understood by a computer and the other by a human programmer.
Interpreted vs. compiled languages
Interpreted languages fall in the category of programming languages that can be generally construed without compiling a program into machine instructions. Here, code has to go through an interpreter program that reads while executing the code line by line. Again, the target machine doesn’t directly execute the instructions. Instead, some other program reads and executes the instructions.
With compiled programming languages, they are generally compiled but not interpreted. Programmers must therefore ensure this kind of programming language goes through a build step to convert the entire program into machine code. Once the program is compiled, it is expressed in the target machine’s instructions. Examples of compiled languages include Rust, Erlang, C, C++, and C#.
Bottom line; the main difference between compiled and interpreted programming languages has everything to do with how each converts high-level code, making it easy for the computer to read.
The Difference Between Different Programming Languages
As an object-oriented programming language, C++ provides a clear structure to programs while allowing you to reuse the code. This, in turn, lowers development costs. If you are passionate about coding, we recommend learning C++ because it is fun and easy to understand. The object-oriented structure in this programming language is often valuable for significantly large projects.
That’s only part of it, as you can collaborate a single program into different fragments. Alternatively, programmers can also collaborate on individual work on every aspect of the program. This is a portable programming language, and programmers can use it to develop applications adaptable to several platforms. Although many software engineers may disagree, C++ is an efficient language.
Since it is a system programming language, C language is often functional when programmers want to execute low-level programming like driver and kernel. It is also generally helpful when creating hardware devices, drivers, and OS. Take, for instance, the Linux kernel. It is written in C language.
This introductory programming language is popular among programmers and software engineers because it is excellent in game programming. Another added advantage of C language is that it features the extra packing of the C++ language, thus making programs faster. Therefore, most programmers prefer using this programming language. Unfortunately, you can’t use C language for internet programming like .NET, PHP, Java, etc.
Only a few industries use Pascal language to write programs. Why? It is primarily a teaching language. This imperative and procedural programming language that Niklaus Wirth designed is an ideal programming language option for beginners because it uses keywords rather than symbols and braces in its C language counterpart. It is generally easier to understand Pascal language than C, C++, and other programming languages.
Although it is a small language, Pascal is efficient and encourages good programming practices. Developed in the late 1960s, Pascal is still used as an introduction to programming, although it’s mostly been replaced by Java, C, and C++ languages.
Engineers who must calculate values with high precision prefer to use the Fortran programming language. This general-purpose, compiled imperative language is a number-crunching programming language that allows different variable sizes up to the memory limit in the machine. It is especially suitable for numeric computation. It is also perfect for scientific computing as scientists still use it.
In the 1950s, IBM originally developed Fortran primarily for engineering and scientific applications. The programming language evolved over time and eventually came to dominate scientific computing. According to some people, Fortran’s old versions were easy to learn. However, let’s face it! If you don’t have programming experience, you may find Fortran90 programming language, for instance, somewhat tricky to learn.
The multi-platform Java language is mainly applicable in networking. It is an influential general-purpose programming language software engineers use to develop mobile and desktop applications, embedded systems, big data processing, and many more. Java is among the most popular languages since it runs on approximately three billion devices globally. That’s according to the company that owns the Java language, Oracle. That makes Java programming language high-level, object-oriented, robust, and secure. IBM also has a great feedback for Java (4):
“Because of Java’s robustness, ease of use, cross-platform capabilities and security features, it has become a language of choice for providing worldwide Internet solutions.”
The fact that Java language is similar to C++ in syntax and structure makes programmers consider using it to design cross-platform programs. Our C++ programmers at Sonatafy consider Java programming language very easy to learn. And today, the 1.5 version of Java features some upgraded integrations for easy program-making, significantly since the speed of the Java language has increased.
Perl programming language has more than 30 years of development. It is a competent and feature-rich file management language for UNIX. However, Perl language is more famous for its standard gateway interface programming. This interpreted, high-level, general-purpose programming language originally appeared for text manipulation. Today, it has evolved to become a method for searching text. Therefore, program programmers use it for useful server functions, plus other databases.
If you have experience in any programming language, it can be effortless to catch up with Perl’s fundamentals. And did we mention that Perl language borrows multiple features from C and Shell Script? Yes! It is also used for other applications that involve user interfaces, including networking and system administration.
This open-source server-side scripting language helps manage databases, session tracking, and dynamic content. It is typically embedded in HTML and functions to build entire e-commerce sites. PHP programming language began as a small open-source project. Over time, it has evolved as more programmers discovered how the language could develop rapid websites. It comprises features that help programmers generate HTTP headers and link to databases quickly and seamlessly. The downside, however, is that PHP language includes more sophisticated object-oriented features.
List processing, shortened to LISP, is a functional programming language. The founder initially developed it to help easily manipulate data strings. LISP is among the oldest programming languages still actively used in computer science research. It was originally specified in 1958, making it the second-oldest computer programming language, after Fortran, by one year.
One unique feature of this language is that it stores all data in lists like arrays. That’s not all. LISP programming language has influenced the development of other programming languages. Its expressions are composed of forms, with function application as the most common LISP form.
As an alternative to LISP programming language, Scheme language includes a simpler syntax and features. It first appeared in the 1970s at the MIT AI Lab. This multi-paradigm programming language supports functional and procedural programming and operates on data structures like strings, characters, vectors, tuples, and numeric parts.
In addition, the Scheme language is highly versatile, primarily due to the rich data sets that it incorporates. This type of programming language writes highly portable programs through various platforms.
Frequently Asked Questions About The Major Types of Programming Languages.
The three types of programming languages are;
Machine language is a computer programming language that is harder for the programmer to understand but more manageable for the computer to understand. Many programmers consider it the language of machines.
It is slightly easier to understand assembly language than machine language. That’s because assembly language replaces the bits of machine language with numbers and English commands.
This category of computer programming languages uses relatively more English commands than assembly language. Therefore, high-level languages are significantly more readable than their machine and assembly language counterparts.
What are the five main programming languages?
Since C is a low-level language, the programmer needs to understand the underlying computer hardware. However, it features better performance than other easy-to-learn programming languages. Conversely, C++ may still be a low-level programming language, but it helps simplify programming.
What are the six types of programming languages?
The six types of programming languages that are also the most in-demand include;
- Python, which is applicable in app and back-end development and data science.
- HTML helps in website development and maintenance and web documents
- CSS is for website design, website development, and web documents.
- Java is for e-commerce, finance, and app development.
- SQL programming language develops sales reports, database management, and business management.
What are the two main categories of programming languages?
The two main categories of programming languages are imperative languages and declarative languages. While an Imperative language comprises step-by-step instructions for the program computer to complete the desired action, a declarative programming language involves writing your code to describe what you intend to do rather than how you want to do it.
what are the 5 Basic Elements of Programming
Learning how to code prepares your mind for the increasingly tech-driven world and allows you to gain problem-solving skills and foster creativity. It also helps young minds boost their overall academic performances. If you are a young learner, here are the five most vital coding concepts that you should know;
Data structures play a significant role in computer science and programming since they help programmers and software engineers streamline data collection. And that’s mainly when the programmer deals with a considerable amount of related information. For example, instead of developing 10 or 20 different variables, you could use a data structure to hold all related variables.
Syntax is a set of rules that computer programming follows. This set of rules helps you define specific layouts of letters and symbols. With proper syntax, your computer should read while interpreting code accurately without missing anything. A good syntax example is a simple email address. We all know that email addresses typically feature a unique format that begins with a string of numbers or letters and the “@” symbol that comes before a website domain. Such a structure is the standard email syntax, and readers and computers can understand it immediately.
Variables are the foundation of any computer programming language since they function as “containers” for “holding” information. The stored information can then be accessible for later use. Have you ever visited a website’s homepage and immediately a dialog box popped into view with a simple request like your name? That’s a variable, and in such a code, the programmer could have named the variable “VisitorName.” Therefore, typing your name into the dialog box and hitting submit means the “VisitorName” variable will store your information for later reference.
The function of a control structure is analyzing variables and choosing the direction to go based on the given parameters. For instance, when a program runs, the computer reads code line by line. However, the computer reaches a point where it must “decide” to execute another task based on the parameters that the programmer has set. So, the affected code flow could end up re-running a particular piece of code again or jumping to a different section of the program.
Have you ever thought about how complex our lives would be if we didn’t invent tools? Tools allow us to simplify work. Take a simple example of a hammer and how it helps the user drive a nail into a wood piece. The case is no different in computer programming as a tool is a piece of software that programmers use when they want to write code much faster. For example, IDE, or Integrated Development Environment, is an essential tool that helps program computer programmers check code syntax for errors. Additionally, it can autocomplete commonly used code and organize files, among other functions.
Discover the Types of Programming Languages From Experts at Sonatafy
At Sonatafy Technology, we are a high-end QA, maintenance, and software engineering firm. We specialize in software-building solutions for clinical industries, healthcare, life sciences, and SaaS. That means our software development experts are highly conversant with the different types of programming languages and are always ready to help you build your career in this field. Or perhasps you’re doing research and in the market for software development services in regards to a new or ongoing project. Schedule a meeting to learn more!
1. Robots Aren’t Taking Over The World (Yet) — Artificial Plus Human Intelligence Is Still The Best Combo
2. “Programming is a skill that is becoming increasingly sought after in the job market. Having at least a basic understanding of how software functions is helpful for anyone who interacts with technology.” Coursera quote
3. List of programming languages by type
4. “Because of Java’s robustness, ease of use, cross-platform capabilities and security features, it has become a language of choice for providing worldwide Internet solutions.” – IBM Quote