14 Programming Languages with the Biggest Developer Communities

Around the world, analyst firms and tech pundits regularly attempt to answer a burning question: Which programming language is used the most?

The answer is more than academic. A programming language with a robust community is more likely to endure through the decades. Businesses use such languages to code their most important software. Big developer communities mean frequent updates, bug squashing, and innovation.

SlashData, a huge developer analyst firm, uses two pieces of data to approach the question of biggest language communities. As described in its latest State of the Developer Nation:

“First, our independent estimate of the global number of software developers, which we published for the first time in 2017. We estimate that in mid-2020 there were 21.3M active software developers in the world. Second, our large-scale, low-bias surveys which reach tens of thousands of developers every six months. In the surveys, we consistently ask developers about their use of programming languages across ten areas of development, giving us rich and reliable information about who uses each language and in which context.” 

What does that data reveal about language communities? Taking a look at the chart below (derived from the report), it’s clear that JavaScript holds a commanding lead over other languages, although Python and Java are no slouches when it comes to active software developers:

SlashData also uses this breakdown to throw a bit of shade in the direction of RedMonk, TIOBE Index, and other firms that attempt their own programming-language rankings every year, claiming they “offer mostly relative comparisons between languages, providing no sense of the absolute size of each community.” 

It’s no surprise that JavaScript tops SlashData’s community list, given how it handles much of the web’s functionality (along with HTML and CSS). If you’re interested in building up your JavaScript skills, it’s really worth getting to know frameworks, especially backend frameworks. It’s also important to get to know TypeScript, an ultra-popular JavaScript superset (which means that whatever you code in it is transpiled to JavaScript).

If you want to brush up on your JavaScript skills, visit hackr.io, which lists a variety of courses and tutorials. That’s in addition to Mozilla, which has a nice rundown of the language’s basics, and JavaScript.info, which offers an extensive walkthrough of fundamentals.

If you want to learn Python, meanwhile, begin at Python.org, which offers a handy beginner’s guide.  Microsoft also has a video series, “Python for Beginners,” with dozens of lessons (most under five minutes in length; none longer than 13 minutes). On top of that, there are plenty of Python tutorials and books that will teach you the nuances of the language—and don’t forget your IDEs

Whatever language you choose to learn, make sure to engage as often as possible with its community on forums, in subreddits, and other places online. You’ll learn much faster when you can ask questions, post screenshots, and draw knowledge from those who’ve been working with the language for quite some time. 

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