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Picking The Right Programming Language for Your Application

By: Harry Flynn
  |  May 2, 2023
Picking The Right Programming Language for Your Application

Programming languages are a critical aspect of the application development process. The language is what allows you to instruct the technology in a way the computer understands. However, choosing the right programming language for your application is often a big dilemma. 

There are a lot of programming languages to choose from, like JavaScript, C++ and PHP, to name just a few. There are several other factors as well, such as security and maintainability, which must be considered.

As a result, the choice is difficult, especially for those who have little coding experience. With that in mind, let’s go through some tips to help you choose the right programming language for your application. 

Think of these steps as the SMART approach to choosing the right programming language for your application

1. Type of Application

The first thing to consider is the type of application you are creating. Are you creating a web app or a mobile application? Is it a desktop application or a business application? These are the questions to answer first, because some programming languages work best with certain types of apps.

For example, the C++ programming language is critical for embedded firmware, while Java is essential for an Android mobile app. Researching the programming language best suited to your specific app type will get you started in the right direction.

You should also consider the size and complexity of your app. PHP and C# can be used for small app projects like simple web apps. Java is a general-purpose programming language suitable for more complex, medium-sized apps that include layers, such as e-commerce functions.

For larger projects with multiple, complex layers, the best course of action is to break the project down into smaller components. These apps are too complex to be built with one technology stack. Using a specific programming language for each part of the project ensures that each individual component is built with the programming language best suited to that component.

2. Identify Your Platform

The platform your app will be running on is another important consideration in choosing the right programming language for your application. It’s always best to establish your platform as early as possible during the initial planning process for creating your app.

You can think of this piece like you’re choosing a platform for a social media campaign. When choosing Instagram, you must create content specifically for that platform to engage your audience and attract more Instagram followers.

Similarly, the chosen platform for your app has a big impact on your choice of programming language. This is because different platforms are more compatible with specific programming languages.

Let’s look closely at the platforms and what coding works best for each. For web apps, JavaScript and PHP are the most compatible programming languages. The chart below from a 2021 Stack Overflow survey shows that JavaScript is the most popular programming language among developers. This is because it is particularly effective for web apps, as it is already embedded in all web browsers.

Java or C++ are the preferred languages for Android apps on mobile devices. Java is one of the core languages of Android app development, and all apps on the platform require some knowledge of Java, so it is probably the best choice.

Finally, for Apple applications, the most popular language is Objective-C. Although this language is limited to Apple products, it is still considered the best option in the developer community. A more versatile option will be required if you want to develop your app to function across multiple platforms. Languages like Python, C++ and Java are more dynamic languages as they can be used effectively for cross-platform apps.

3. Maintainability

When choosing a programming language, it is also essential to consider the long-term maintainability of your app. The language you pick must be up to date with current programming technology. You’ll also want your app to stay current for a long time, so you shouldn’t pick any language that is falling out of favor for any reason.

Technology and coding are constantly evolving, so long-term maintainability is key when choosing a language. No matter how much you plan for the future, apps will always need to be updated. So, you’ll want to choose a programming language that can handle updates well.

Using outdated languages can lead to high maintenance costs, as you will struggle to keep up with new developments in coding. In some cases, you may have to start from scratch a second time if your chosen language becomes completely outdated. 

Of course, this is unlikely to happen unless you completely disregard maintainability and technological developments. However, it does highlight the importance of long-term planning in app development.

For example, if you are creating a web app, you should consider the possibility that you may want to create a mobile app in the future. In that case, you should consider using a flexible language like Python that is compatible across multiple platforms. Long-term planning like this can save you a lot of money in the long run.

Moreover, you may want to consider the need to hire other developers in the future. Will you be able to get developers for the specific language you used to build the application 10 years from now? How much is that going to cost?

If you build an application using a popular language, you’ll likely spend less now, and on long-term maintainability in the future.

4. Scalability, Performance and Security

Similarly, you must also consider scalability. As with any project, the plan with an app is to grow and become more popular. So, if all goes as planned, your app will attract more and more users over time. As this happens, your app and chosen programming language will have to handle increasing amounts of data.

Choosing a language with great scalability will prepare your app for success. Ruby on Rails and Java Spring are the two stacks that perform best in terms of scalability.

As well as scalability, general app performance should also be a primary consideration. A poor choice of programming can lead to problems with image processing or page loading, which can be very frustrating for users.

To avoid this, use real-time code profiling to reduce troubleshooting and optimize app performance. This software provides instant feedback on your code quality in a clean interface, as shown below, allowing you to solve issues quickly.

Finally, you must protect your app and users from cyber threats. While the measures you take to secure your app vary by industry, a single security breach can kill your app. In addition, many industries have very strict security requirements. Healthcare applications, for example, must comply with HIPAA, while a financial application must have PCI compliance.

Security is of significant importance whatever kind of app you create, and the programming language you use plays a vital role in protecting user data. So always keep an eye out for security updates for your chosen programming language.

In Closing

Choosing the right programming language for your application is essential for any successful app. A poor choice  can lead to general performance, poor loading speeds or worse – problems with data security.

To avoid such problems, start by considering the type of app you are creating and match it with an appropriate programming language. Identifying your platform is critical; Objective-C is better suited to Apple apps, while Android apps work better with JavaScript or C++.

You should also consider the ability of your programming language to maintain performance as your app grows and becomes more complex. Finally, prioritize performance in areas such as loading speed and security. Start by following these steps, and you’ll arrive at the right choice of programming language for your application.

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