How to Choose the Right Programming Language

Updated on:
5 min

Сhoosing a programming language is one of the most important factors affecting not only the successful implementation of its first version but also subsequent updates. Would you like to know how not to miscalculate with a choice? To do this, we have specially prepared the material below. In addition, if you are interested in quick tips on choosing a programming language for your project, you can read about it in a partner article on the  website. 

Most Important Factors When Determining The Optimal Programming Language for Each Project

The question of how to choose a programming language for a project largely intersects with the more global question of how to achieve success with this project. Indeed, blindly following the recommendations of pseudo-experts, or even more so an independent choice, led by the creed “We’ve worked with this language before, and we know that it’s good”, is a wrong behavior that will not bring you closer to this success. Moreover, you will push your project to constant reworks, performance and security issues, and, ultimately, a complete upgrade (which will involve changing that “unsuccessful” language).

In general, if we consider the top most popular programming languages in 2023, they include the following:

  • C
  • C++
  • C#
  • Java
  • JavaScript/TypeScript
  • Objective-C
  • PHP
  • Python
  • ruby
  • Scala
  • TOP-20
  • Assemblers
  • Clojure
  • Delphi/Pascal
  • F#
  • Go
  • Haskell
  • Lua
  • Perl
  • Swift
  • Visual Basic

As you can see, the list is large enough to ask someone on the forum which programming language is better. So what to do?

In general, the professional approach lies in taking into account many (rather than one) factors. This is an equation with many variables, and only considering each of them will help to give you the correct answer to your question.

Therefore, below we propose to dwell on the following variables when asking how to choose a programming language:

  1. Project platform
  2. Project complexity and scale 
  3. Further scalability
  4. Security and standard compliance
  5. Performance requirements
  6. Development speed

In the following paragraphs, we will look at each of these parameters in more detail, but for now, let's return to our demagogy and discuss what other ideas your choice should be based on.

Choosing the Right Programming Language Based on Project Requirements and Trade-offs

Another aspect of understanding the problem of choice is that even with a thorough approach lying in taking into account all possible parameters, you will most likely, remain hesitant about choosing “between X and Y” or “between X, Y, and Z” since many of them have approximately the same development characteristics for projects of specific types.

On the other hand, in addition to project requirements, you may have your own limitations, such as the inability to find affordable developers specializing in the programming language you need, the high cost of implementing a technology stack “accompanying” a specific programming language, technical requirements for hardware your team of specialists will work on, etc. By the way, you can learn more on how to choose a technology stack for web applications.

That's why, along with the specific characteristics of the project, which immediately filter out the vast majority of applicants from the above list, you will also need to consider whether the rest of the languages will provide a compromise with these individual limitations.

Factors Influencing The Choice of Programming Languages

So, it's time to consider the parameters for choosing a programming language in more detail.

Application type (platform)

So, what is the most important factor to consider when coding? It is a platform. You may be aimed at the development of mobile software (for iOS and/or Android platform), website, web application, desktop app (for Windows, MacOS, Linux, or another platform), embedded software, etc. – and this will be the first thing that will help you narrow down your selection of existing programming languages to 2-4 ones. 

For example, in the case of mobile development, your selection of languages will initially be limited by two languages, and the only thing you will have to consider will be the availability of proper libraries for Android and iOS development.

At the same time, you should be accurate with general-purpose languages such as JavaScript, Python, and C#. Despite their convenience for the developers themselves (which means that it will not be difficult for you to find a team of the needed specialists), in many cases, they can only be suitable for academic work in universities. 

For example, Python is a time-tested and reliable language with a low entry threshold, but it is unlikely that a team that has worked on projects of various types will choose it for implementing high-performance video games or multi-threaded applications. The same problems can overtake you with any of the above languages if the main reason for choosing is the convenience and versatility factor. Just remember that you are choosing the language for your business and not for the development team's business.

Complexity and scale of the project

The initial complexity of the business logic as well as the large scale of the project more influence the choice of frameworks rather than the programming language itself. In turn, the framework you choose will cut off the list of possible programming languages.

Further scalability

If you are going to build a product that will need to be updated and upgraded over time, you will have to consider languages with a strong community and support. This means that they will have to develop too. This way, most likely you will not encounter the problem of incompatibility of a particular language with some tool or API you need.

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Security and standard compliance

Business applications, like those for large target audiences, often require compliance with specific user data security standards such as HIPAA and PCI. There are also more general security policies that must be met in the project to obtain its proper quality. We cannot say that any of the programming languages is 100% safe or vice versa since, in many respects, the achievement of this characteristic depends on the skills of your development team and API libraries for creating secure mobile applications they use. However, the syntax of some programming languages implies increased protection against errors (and hence, against vulnerabilities), making applications with sophisticated business logic more reliable.

Performance requirements

If you are going to create a project with rich graphics (like in video games) or with business logic that requires top performance due to the complexity of computational operations, your choice can instantly be reduced to one or two languages. In general, C, C++, Rust, Ada, and Java are among the fastest.

Development speed

Finally, you should think about what languages provide the fastest project launch if this is one of your key requirements. This parameter, as in the case of the complexity of the project, largely depends primarily on the framework. In turn, the correct choice of the framework will automatically determine the language itself for you.

Why Do We Choose The Wrong Language?

We have already talked about this above, so let us remind you again: you must find a compromise between your individual restrictions on the project and the correspondence of specific programming languages to specific types of projects. This is why when your chosen development team specializes in a couple of general-purpose languages and offers to choose one of them for your project, it is better to consult somewhere on the side to understand whether their choice is really the right one.

If you want to enlist the support of a team with an extensive technology stack that will not limit the possibilities of your project with their skills, feel free to contact us. We will select for your project exactly those technologies and tools that will bring it the maximum benefit.

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