With the evolution of smartphones and smartphone browsers, web-based applications have become increasingly popular. And it’s no wonder, as they have a lot of benefits compared to native apps. This includes their cross-platform nature, better flexibility and scalability, improved data security, and easier maintenance.
With more companies and developers rushing to create their web app, one question has become a subject of increasingly heated discussions – namely, what is the best programming language for building web apps? While this question is almost impossible to answer generally, in this article we will review the most popular and flexible web programming languages and tips on how to choose the best language for web apps in your particular case.
Overview of Web Programming Languages
Each web development project can be divided into server-side (backend) and client-side (frontend). The former manages the data storage and management; the latter allows the user to interact with the platform. As both sides differ in functionality and approach, they often require different tools to develop.
Let’s take a look at the best programming languages for web applications that are relevant in 2021.
Best Programming Language for a Web Application in 2021
PHP is the backend scripting programming language. It is also one of the most used server-side languages, with reportedly around 79% of websites running on it.
PHP is known among the best languages for web applications as it is flexible, compatible with the majority of platforms and operating systems. It is an open-source solution, so you don’t need to spend money to use it. PHP is also easy to learn, which is why there is a vast community around it.
However, PHP is slower than some other solutions and a bit more error-prone due to being highly customizable. It is also somewhat outdated, despite the newest updates. No matter what, PHP remains an excellent solution for simpler dynamic apps.
As it started as an extension of C, C++ is one of the oldest relevant programming languages. At its current state, C++ can be used as a procedural, OOP, or functional language and is used for all kinds of purposes, from game to web development.
C++ makes an entry in this list as the best programming language for web apps because it allows the creation of some highest-performing programs. With a large community behind it, it is relatively easy to learn and find premade solutions for common problems.
Unfortunately, such a complex tool is sometimes tricky to use and debug. Security concerns are another part of its drawbacks. It also has no garbage collection, meaning the developer will have to manage the memory manually, which is a recipe for mistakes.
Java is an open-source, object-oriented language developed by Sun Microsystems (later acquired by Oracle) in 1995. It is often regarded as one of the most stable languages on the market, which is why it has earned to be in this list as the best language for web applications.
Source: Tutorial Walk
One of the main reasons for such stability and Java usability across the board is JVM. It helps developers to create an application without having to worry about any underlying specifics of the platform. It also supports automatic garbage collection. This is why we’ve used Java in several projects we’ve worked on, for example, the music authorship portal that allows creators to confirm the content authorship within minutes.
While Java is easy to start learning, it is much harder to master. In many cases, the code written can be challenging to manage. Its performance is not high-tier, and experience shows that development time can stretch for longer than other options, like Python or Kotlin.
What has made it the best coding language for web-based applications is the possibility of the rapid development of interactive user interfaces. There is a wide variety of development frameworks for various types of applications and platforms.
In our cases, we often use TypeScript for the frontend part of the projects we work on. For example, the Workus SaaS HRM platform, that has a visually clear interface and helps companies manage employees daily.
Python is easy to learn, which has contributed to the number of competent specialists in the field. That’s also why there are so many helpful libraries you can use to solve many problems. The language specifics allow for solving the problem with less code, making it easier to create complex applications.
Python has its downsides as well. First, it is less suitable for projects that require multi-processor work. It is also slower than Java and C++, which makes it less usable for memory-intensive apps.
Ruby is mostly known thanks to the framework based on it – Ruby on Rails. Ruby itself is a purely object-oriented language. Its syntax is somewhat similar to Python’s, which makes the code easy to understand and manage.
Concerning Ruby on Rails, it is equipped with multiple useful libraries and tools for the backend side of web app development. These tools make app creation faster and more efficient. However, these solutions do not provide the flexibility that comes with other languages.
Among the entries on this list, Swift is one of the newest ones – Apple introduced it in 2014. Its primary purpose is to create native applications for Apple devices, and, as every product from the company, it is incredibly polished and does its job well.
But what about web app development? Turns out, Swift is a pretty good tool for the server-side of web development. What’s great about it is that it is often faster than most of its competitors. The code is also easy to read, and the language has quickly become popular in the development community.
Unfortunately, this popularity does not compare with older, established languages. While Swift has definitely earned the title of the best language used for developing web apps, the surrounding community is still relatively small. But it continues to grow.
The purpose of Kotlin, on the other hand, is to create applications for Android. Created by JetBrain in 2011, it was designed to improve upon Java while working with Java code and Java frameworks.
Kotlin can be effectively utilized for server-side mobile web app development. When it comes to such characteristics as performance, it is pretty similar to Java. However, it is much more manageable and better suited for the coordinated efforts of a team.
Kotlin is a rather specific solution, and its community is much smaller, so it is harder to find specialists in it.
Go, or Golang, is a language designed by Google in 2007. The main aim was to enable developers to create secure and scalable solutions fast. The created solution can be described as somewhat similar to C but with the benefits of structural typing and garbage collection.
Go is often praised for its performance, which is achieved thanks to its concurrency model. Unfortunately, Go is a specific solution, so it is not as flexible as others, and the community around it is relatively small as well. Still, it is one of the best programming languages for web apps.
What is the Best Programming Language for Building Web Apps?
Programming languages are usually designed to fulfill a certain purpose. That’s why there is no single best programming language for all web apps – you need to choose the right one for your project based on various factors. Some of them include:
- Specifics of your project – consider how complicated your app should be, how much device resources it will consume, and choose the language accordingly;
- Ease of use – for example, if the project is extensive, the end code should be easy to manage;
- Specialists available – you shouldn’t choose a language if you can’t find a qualified developer to work with it;
- How active the community is – sometimes projects face problems that can only be solved with the help of the community.
Our Experience with Web Programming Languages
Let’s take a look at one of the recent projects we’ve worked on – the Real Estate SaaS Portal. This platform has six different applications for different types of users.
We developed the backend for the apps on Java 14 and its Spring Framework – this has ensured great app performance and security of the data used in it. Java code was also easy to work with, it provides a certain layer of reliability to the platform, and allows for it to be easily scalable. Overall, it is a perfect choice for such a project.
The frontend, with its stylish UI, was modeled with TypeScript. Its use has made the development process easy and quick and made sure that the end code is structured and easy to debug.
Selecting the right programming language for web apps is challenging, especially with a variety of options. However, this choice can make or break the success of your project. Hopefully, this overview will help you to make the right decision.
If you’re still not sure about the most suitable language for your web app project, ask the specialists. Contact our team at OSDB.io – we have a lot of experience in the field your enterprise can benefit from.