The top 10 programming languages to watch in 2021

Vention
7 min readJan 6, 2021
The top 10 programming languages to watch in 2021
The top 10 programming languages to watch in 2021

For startups, 2020 was certainly a year to remember, marked by funding constraints, drops in customer demand, and lots of high-risk activities. So, what can a startup founder do to catch up with the market in 2021? To succeed in an increasingly competitive environment, startup owners are building solutions to be as lean as possible while meeting the needs of all stakeholders. And one of the most important decisions that can make or break your success is which technology you use.

Having 15+ years’ experience ensuring startups keep pace across various verticals, we’ve conducted comprehensive research of new projects to come out of 2020 as well as consulted a few reputable references — GitHub report, Stackoverflow developer survey 2020, TIOBE Index — and voila! You’re looking at a solid ranking of the most popular programming languages used among your startup peers.

A quick disclaimer: Keep in mind that the ratings are subjective and not all of the languages listed will be a great fit for your startup business. If you’d like more extensive support, don’t hesitate to contact our experienced consultants for a custom assessment to your specific needs.

Python is a major programming language
Python is a major programming language

Python

As stats show, Python grew the most in the last five years because it has easy-to-learn syntax emphasizing readability and therefore reducing the cost of program maintenance. Developers love this language for its increased productivity: Since Python has no compilation step, the edit-test-debug cycle is incredibly fast. The Python interpreter and the extensive standard library are freely available in source for all major platforms and can be easily distributed.

Python’s popularity grew the most in the last 5 years
Python’s popularity grew the most in the last 5 years

Along with all the above benefits, Python is a major programming language in Data Science and Machine Learning. Therefore, the rapid spread of these technologies also helped boost Python’s popularity.

Businesses can use Python as a general-purpose language for web development, scripting, software applications, and much more. Such Python libraries as TensorFlow, PyTorch, scikit-learn, and OpenCV are used to build solutions for machine learning, image processing, and computer vision.

iTechArt cooperation with ClassPass, a fitness platform, perfectly illustrates the power of this language: A Python-built web solution coupled with our expertise helped to grow the business from MVP to the unicorn startup status.

JavaScript is one of the most popular languages among developers
JavaScript is one of the most popular languages among developers

Javascript

JavaScript is one of the most popular languages among developers for the seventh year in a row, according to Stack Overflow’s 2019 Developer Survey. Having a flexible syntax and the capability to work across major browsers, Javascript is the friendliest language for beginners. It stands on par with other front-end languages like HTML and CSS, so the most popular websites — Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Gmail — use it for developing interactive web pages with dynamically displayed content for users. JavaScript is also a go-to language to build scalable network applications on the server-side through Node.js, which is compatible with Linux, Solaris, Mac OS X, and Windows.

Using React Native JS framework, engineers can develop mobile apps, while with the help of Electron you can make desktop applications. If your startup is engaged in both website and mobile application development, JavaScript is definitely worth considering.

Java completes the “elite three” together with Python and JavaScript.
Java completes the “elite three” together with Python and JavaScript

Java

Java completes the “elite three” together with Python and JavaScript. It is mainly used in the development of client-server and desktop applications. Developers writing on Java use the WORA method (“write once, run anywhere”), meaning that an application written in Java can run on any platform that supports Java.

Java is a go-to language for Android development because of its robustness, ease of use, cross-platform capabilities, and security features. Moreover such development environments as Eclipse, NetBeans and all environments from JetBrains are made in Java.

C# is a C-derived object-orient language for Windows, mobile devices, and browser plug-ins
C# is a C-derived object-orient language for Windows, mobile devices, and browser plug-ins

C#

C# (said out loud “C Sharp”) is a C-derived general-purpose and object-oriented language designed by Microsoft to support the development of applications for Windows, mobile devices, and browser plug-ins. Developers coming from another language in the C family will easily pick up the C# syntax. Moreover, C# offers shared codebases, a large code library, and a variety of data types.

Trying to tap into the gamer space? C# is ideal for building 3D and 2D video games alike, and is often used in tandem with Unity. It’s one drawback: Being built for Microsoft and Windows application development, this language comes with a not-surprisingly steep learning curve — especially when it comes to resolving errors.

Go is an open-source language favored by Google
Go is an open-source language favored by Google

Go

Go is an open-source language favored by Google. As a low-level language and a relatively new one, Go has a large standards library and extensive documentation, so it is ideal for engineers who want to enter the field of systems programming. It’s also the perfect language for building web servers and data pipelines, and serves as an excellent foundation for enabling systems of scale. If your startup needs to process a lot of data and has the aim to become as successful as Netflix, Twitch, and Uber, then this language may be a perfect tool for you.

Please note that Go includes a limited number of tools for graphical user interfaces, which are the most common ways that end-users interact with any device that has a screen. This means that development can be time-consuming and require the help of developers proficient not only in it, but in other programming languages.

Swift is a language developed for the iOS system
Swift is a programming language developed for the iOS system

Swift

Swift is a language developed for the iOS system and used for Mac computers and Apple’s mobile devices — the iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch. As a young language, Swift has a readable syntax, runs code quickly, and can be used for both client-side and server-side development. If you’re interested in developing your startups’ applications for Apple products and mobile app development, Swift is your solution. The one drawback? Limited integration capacity.

A great example of using Swift is our cooperation with Convene, a mature startup that provides premium meeting spaces. iTechArt’s developers have built up mobile application Convene Elevate using Swift/RxSwift for iOS. The application was designed to serve as a central hub where users (landlords, tenants, employees, and property visitors) can organize and manage their activities within the building.

PHP is still a cool choice for many content-oriented platforms
PHP is still a cool choice for many content-oriented platforms

PHP

Despite its large ecosystem of frameworks, libraries, and automation tools, PHP is quite tenured compared to newcomers like Go and Swift. Developers use it for server-side web development when a website frequently requests information from a server and needs code that’s easy to debug.

PHP’s popularity has slightly dropped in the last few years because of the rise of Python and JavaScript popularity. But PHP is still a cool choice for many content-oriented platforms (MediaWiki, WordPress, Drupal etc.), so don’t write it off quite so fast.

Kotlin is one of the languages used to develop applications for Android
Kotlin is one of the languages used to develop applications for Android

Kotlin

Kotlin is one of the languages used to develop applications for Android. At first sight, it looks like a more concise and streamlined version of Java, but Kotlin is also used for iOS development, allowing developers to easily switch between mobile platforms.

Kotlin is supported by a vast majority of IDEs, including Android Studio, and other SDK tools as a first-class citizen language, thus helping to increase developers’ productivity. Being much more concise than Java, it can cut as much as 40% lines of code, which means less time — and therefore less money — spent on development.

Ruby is used by major software enterprises like Twitter, GitHub, and Airbnb
Ruby is used by major software enterprises like Twitter, GitHub, and Airbnb

Ruby

Ruby took on the best of all development worlds: It’s dynamic, object-oriented, functional, garbage-collected, concise, and used by major software enterprises like Twitter, GitHub, and Airbnb. It has excellent tooling and framework support, inviting startup owners to create web applications, web servers, system utilities, database work, backups, and parsing.

On the other hand, it has some disadvantages — most notably, longer runtime and boot speed. But it offers a great feature called Ruby on Rails (RoR), a web framework used by programmers to speed up the development process and save time.

Scala is a functional programming language
Scala is a functional programming language

Scala

Scala is a functional programming language that delivers fewer lines of code and fewer bugs. Scala is considered to be one of the most important Big Data languages (along with Python and Java) thus providing enhanced scalability. (JFYI: Scala is short for “scalability.”)

As a high-level purpose language, Scala is used for a lot of things, ranging from machine learning to web apps, and allows developers to make good use of standard JVM features and Java libraries.

So what language is the best match for your startup in 2021?

The question is tough, as there are hundreds of languages, each with their own complexities and peculiarities. The good news? Almost every company uses between three to six languages depending on the scope of their desired functionality and the third parties they would like to integrate with.

For that reason, experienced advisors are critical at this juncture — to help you take your vision and identify what languages will be the building blocks that bring it to life and win over your community, investors, and users. We’re ready when you are!

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