Most Popular Web Programming Languages 2014

I am a full time web application developer, because of that I am familiar with the technologies I will be discussing here.

If you look at a complex web application like Google’s Gmail or say Yahoo Answers, they are not developed using one programming language, instead there are a few languages, used together, to make these web programs possible.

Web applications can be divided into 2 parts, server and client side. Client side script runs on your browser (for example JavaScript), while server side programs run on the web server and is passed to your browser as html. On the server side there are 2 main competing architectures namely LAMP(Linux, Apache, MySQL and PHP) and Windows.

Linux mascot

LAMP VS Windows

LAMP design is based on free software and is in wider use because of that. With a Windows solution there is significant software costs, such as the purchase of Microsoft Visual Studio. Also, if you for instance needed to install a forum on a site, you could find free forum software for LAMP, while for Windows you would have to buy it. The costs can add up quickly.

On the plus side Microsoft Visual Studio has large libraries that can be used to rapidly develop many types of web programs. Visual Studio let’s you use C#, C++, F# or Visual Basic. Of these, for the web, C# is the most popular and second is Visual Basic.

In the past when I have worked with other people’s programs, I have found C# ones to be consistently better structured, than PHP ones and therefor easier to work with. In my opinion PHP makes it easier to write badly structured code/script.

JavaScript and jQuery

JavaScript is the most popular client side scripting language. jQuery is a powerful and widely used library for Javascript. The power of jQuery has increased the use of AJAX type architecture. So what is AJAX? Without AJAX you can’t load data directly from a database onto a web page. What you normally do is to submit parameters to another page and then based on those parameters you display data. With AJAX you can make calls to a database, without changing the web page that you are on. This is done by having the jQuery script send and receive data from web applications, for example a PHP page. The PHP page then connects to a database using SQL.  AJAX can be used to create a much better user experience.

jQuery and/or JavaScript is also increasingly used to create simple animations on web pages.

Flash ActionScript

ActionScript is the language that Flash movies use. The use of ActionScript has been in slow decline, over the last couple of years. Many of the smaller jobs that use to be done with Flash, is now achieved by the use of jQuery. An example would be when creating simple animations. ActionScript is still popular where you need a lot of client side power, for instance when developing browser games.

It is difficult to measure just how popular any given programming language is. Opinions vary greatly depending on which programmer you ask.

One metric that you might consider is the numbers of jobs advertised requiring particular skills. The data below is from Jobs Tractor, for February 2014. What they do is to look for jobs advertised through Twitter, where the job isn't from a professional employment agency.

Language Jobs Advertised
PHP 529
SQL 194
JavaScript 186
C# 150
ActionScript 41
ASP .net 28


The data is probably somewhat skewed. Larger companies that are more likely to use Windows solutions, are less likely to advertise using Twitter. The ASP .net jobs are Windows web applications jobs. A percentage of the jobs counted as C# jobs is likely to be C# web application jobs.

I also looked at the data from a year ago. The biggest increase over the last year is from JavaScript, while the biggest decrease is from ActionScript.

Remember salaries are based on supply and demand not on number of vacancies.




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