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Top 8 Most Popular Backend Languages For Web Development (2023)

As we move further into the 21st century, more and more businesses are relying on backend languages to power their web development operations.

Backend languages are those that are fused to create programs and software behind the scenes, as opposed to front-end languages (that we have also ranked here) which are used to create the user interface.

While there are many different backend languages in use today, some have emerged as more popular than others. In this article, we present you the list of the top 8 most popular backend languages for web development in 2023.

What Is Backend Development?

Before we dive into our list of languages, let’s first take a step back and understand what backend development is.

In simple terms, backend development refers to the server-side development of a website or application. This involves everything from the server that the application is hosted on, to the databases that store the data, to the security features that protect sensitive information.

While front-end development focuses on the look and feel of a website or application, backend development is all about making sure that the site or app is able to function properly. This includes everything from ensuring that server requests are processed quickly and efficiently, to making sure that the database is able to store and retrieve data effectively.

As an example, when a user fills out a form on a website, it is the backend development that ensures that the data from the form is stored in the database and that the user is redirected to the appropriate next page.

Similarly, when a user makes a purchase on an ecommerce site, it is the backend development that handles the processing of payment information and the updating of inventory levels.

Why Are Backend Languages Important?

While most people are only familiar with front-end languages like HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, the backend languages are just as important in powering a website or application. In fact, without backend languages, most of the websites and apps that we use on a daily basis would not be possible.

Some of the most popular websites and apps in the world, such as Facebook, Amazon, and Google, are powered by backend languages.

These languages allow these companies to process billions of pieces of data quickly and efficiently. They also allow these companies to offer complex features and functionality, such as recommending products to users based on their past purchase history.

In addition to powering some of the most popular websites and apps, backend languages are also important for businesses of all sizes.

Whether you’re a small business owner looking to create a simple website or a large enterprise looking to build a complex software application, backend languages will be an integral part of your development process.

smartphone on laptop computer on top of brown wooden desk
Photo by Alexandru Acea @ Pexels

How Many Backend Languages Are There?

There are approximately two dozen backend languages in use today. However, some of these languages are more popular than others. In fact, the vast majority of websites and applications are powered by just a handful of backend languages.

With so many different backend languages in use today, it can be difficult to keep track of them all. While there are dozens of backend languages in existence, most of them can be grouped into one of four main categories:

  • Scripting languages: These languages are designed for creating small programs or scripts. Examples include PHP, Perl, and Python.
  • Markup languages: These languages are designed for creating documents with a specific structure or layout. Examples include XML and HTML.
  • Programming languages: These languages are designed for creating larger programs or applications. Examples include Java, C++, and C#.
  • Query languages: These languages are designed for querying data from a database. Examples include SQL and NoSQL.

While there are many different backend languages in use today, some have emerged as more popular than others. Further below in this article, we will present you the list of the top 8 most popular backend languages for 2023.

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How to Pick a Good Backend Language to Learn?

There are many different backend languages in use today, so how do you know which one to learn? The answer to this question depends on a number of factors, including your experience level, the type of project you’re working on, and your personal preferences.

If you’re just getting started in backend development, we recommend learning one of the scripting languages, such as Python or PHP. These languages are relatively easy to learn and are well-suited for small projects.

If you’re working on a larger project, such as a web application or software application, you’ll need to learn a programming language, such as Java or C++. These languages are more complex than scripting languages but will give you the power and flexibility you need to build a complex project.

Finally, if you’re working with data, you’ll need to learn a query language, such as SQL or NoSQL. These languages are designed for retrieving data from a database and can be used to build complex queries.

No matter which backend language you choose to learn, we recommend starting with a tutorial or course (we will provide some recommendations below). This will help you get up to speed quickly and start building projects in no time.

Now that we’ve covered some of the basics, let’s take a look at the top 8 most popular backend languages for 2023.

most popular backend languages
Photo by Joshua Golde @ Unsplash

The Top 8 Most Popular Backend Languages 2023

1. JavaScript

  • Year of origin: 1995
  • Difficulty: Easy

JavaScript is a versatile scripting language that can be used for both frontend and backend development. It is most commonly used for frontend development, but it also has a large ecosystem of libraries and frameworks that can be used for backend development.

JavaScript is used for backend predominantly through such frameworks as Node.js, Express.js, and Hapi.js. These frameworks make it easy to build a full-stack web application with JavaScript, and they are ideal for developers who want an easy and fast way to create complex web applications.

Pros:

  • Widely adopted: JavaScript is one of the most popular programming languages in the world, so there’s a large pool of developers to choose from.
  • Flexibility: JavaScript is a versatile language that can be used for both frontend and backend development.
  • Fast development time: JavaScript is a high-level language, which means it is easy to read and write. This makes development quicker and easier compared to lower-level languages.

Cons:

  • Security concerns: Because JavaScript is a dynamic language, it can be difficult to secure. This is especially true for larger applications.
  • Not suitable for everything: JavaScript is not the best language for every situation. For example, if you need to process a lot of data, you might be better off using a language like Java or Python.

Used by: Netflix, Amazon, eBay

Where to learn: The Complete Node.js Developer Course on Udemy

2. Python

  • Year of origin: 1991
  • Difficulty: Easy

Python is a versatile language that can be used for a wide range of applications, including backend development. Python is easy to learn and has a large standard library that can be used for developing a variety of applications. Python is also a popular language for data science and machine learning.

As a backend development language, Python is most commonly used for server-side web development and microservices. Python has a number of web frameworks, including Django and Flask, that make it easy to develop and deploy web applications. Python is also well suited for developing RESTful APIs.

Pros:

  • Python is one of the most popular backend languages.
  • Python is easy to learn for beginners.
  • Python has a large standard library.
  • Python is open source.

Cons:

Used by: Google, Instagram, Reddit

Where to learn: Django 2.2 & Python | The Ultimate Web Development Bootcamp on Udemy

3. Java

  • Year of origin: 1995
  • Difficulty: Moderate
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Java is a versatile and powerful programming language that enables developers to create robust back-end systems. Java is platform-independent, meaning it can be run on any operating system, making it ideal for developing cross-platform applications. Additionally, Java is one of the most stable languages, meaning that backend systems built with Java are less likely to experience crashes or other issues.

As a backend development language, Java enables developers to create scalable and high-performance systems. Java is also widely used in enterprises, making it a good choice for backend development in large organizations.

Pros:

  • Java is one of the most popular programming languages in the world, so finding developers who are skilled in Java should be relatively easy.
  • Java is a very robust language and can be used for developing large scale enterprise applications.
  • Java is a very versatile language and can be used for building a wide range of applications such as web applications, mobile applications, desktop applications, etc.
  • Java has a huge ecosystem with a vast amount of libraries and frameworks available, which can make development faster and easier.

Cons:

  • Java can be a bit verbose and tedious to write, especially when compared to newer languages like Python or Ruby.
  • Java can be slow to start up, especially when compared to languages like Node.js.
  • Java can be difficult to learn, especially for beginners.

Used by: Amazon, LinkedIn, Twitter

Where to learn: Java Web Developer Nanodegree on Udacity

Woman in Black Shirt Sitting in Front of Computer Monitor learning backend languages
Photo by cottonbro @ Pexels

4. PHP

  • Year of origin: 1995
  • Difficulty: Easy

PHP is a versatile scripting language that is widely used for backend development. It is easy to learn and has a wide range of libraries and frameworks that make development easier. PHP is also well-suited for developing dynamic web applications. While PHP is most commonly used for web development, it can also be used for developing desktop applications and mobile apps.

While PHP is sometimes considered outdated by some, it continues to be one of the most popular backend languages, used by millions of developers around the world.

Pros:

  • PHP is one of the most popular backend languages, powering major sites like Facebook, Wikipedia, and WordPress.
  • PHP is easy to learn for beginner programmers and has a wide range of well-documented libraries and frameworks available.
  • PHP runs on most web servers and operating systems, making it a versatile choice for web development.

Cons:

  • PHP code can be messy and inconsistent, making it difficult to maintain large projects.
  • PHP is not as fast as some of the other backend languages, such as Java or Go.

Used by: Wikipedia, Facebook, Tumblr, WordPress

Where to learn: Web Applications for Everybody on Coursera

5. Go

  • Year of origin: 2009
  • Difficulty: Moderate

Go (often referred to as golang) is a relatively new programming language that was designed with concurrency and performance in mind. Go is a compiled language, meaning that it is fast and efficient. Additionally, Go offers built-in support for concurrent programming, making it a good choice for developing backend systems that need to handle a lot of traffic.

Pros:

  • Go is very fast. Its compiled code runs close to the speed of C
  • Go has an efficient garbage collector that reclaims memory no longer used by the program
  • Go programs are statically typed and therefore have very few runtime errors

Cons:

  • The lack of generics can make code difficult to read and maintain
  • Go doesn’t have a lot of libraries or frameworks available yet, so you may have to write your own code for certain tasks.

Used by: Google, Dropbox, SoundCloud

Where to learn: Web Development w/ Google’s Go on Udemy

6. Ruby

  • Year of origin: 1995
  • Difficulty: Easy

Ruby is a versatile and fun-to-use programming language that helps make development an enjoyable experience. It is also relatively easy to learn compared to other backend languages. Ruby on Rails is a popular framework for backend development and has been used by companies such as Twitter, Shopify, and GitHub.

Ruby is also different from other backend languages in that it is more focused on the developer experience and on providing clean and readable code. This can make development faster and easier, which is why many startups prefer to use Ruby for their backend development needs.

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Pros:

  • Rails is one of the most popular web development frameworks, and Ruby is its language.
  • It’s easy to read and write, making it a great choice for beginners.
  • Ruby is known for its “batteries included” philosophy, meaning that many features are available out of the box.

Cons:

  • Rails can be slow to load, especially on large projects.
  • Ruby is a dynamic language, which can make debugging more difficult.

Used by: Twitter, Shopify, GitHub, Airbnb

Where to learn: The Complete Ruby on Rails Developer Course on Udemy

MacBook Pro displaying the most popular programming language
Photo by AltumCode @ Unsplash

7. C#

  • Year of origin: 2000
  • Difficulty: Moderate

C# (pronounced “C-sharp”) is a versatile language that can be used for a wide range of applications. It is a Microsoft language and therefore has great support on Windows platforms. C# is also widely used in game development, thanks to its powerful graphics capabilities.

What makes C# a great backend language is its ease of use and readability. C# is very similar to C++, so if you’re already familiar with that language, you’ll have no trouble picking up C#. Additionally, the Visual Studio IDE makes it easy to develop in C#, with plenty of tools and features to help you along the way.

Pros:

  • Powerful language that is easy to learn
  • Excellent tooling and IDE support
  • Runs on Microsoft’s .NET framework, which is used by many enterprises

Cons:

  • Limited cross-platform support
  • Not as widely used as some other languages, so there may be fewer libraries and frameworks available.

Used by: Microsoft, Visual Studio, Stack Overflow

Where to learn: Full Stack Web Development with C# OOP, MS SQL & ASP.NET MVC on Udemy

8. Rust

  • Year of origin: 2010
  • Difficulty: Hard

Rust is a systems programming language that runs blazingly fast, prevents segfaults, and guarantees thread safety. It is syntactically similar to C++ but provides memory safety without the cost of garbage collection.

With its powerful performance and security features, Rust is an excellent choice for backend development, especially for building high-performance systems.

Pros:

  • Rust is blazingly fast and memory-efficient: with no runtime or garbage collector, it can power performance-critical services, run on embedded devices, and easily integrate with other languages.
  • Rust’s rich type system and ownership model guarantee memory safety and thread safety, preventing entire classes of memory management bugs.
  • Developed by Mozilla, Rust is an open-source project with a large, friendly community. Mozilla provides extensive support for Rust, including projects like Servo, a high-performance browser engine written in Rust.

Cons:

  • Rust is a young language and thus lacks the stability and maturity of some of its competitors.
  • The learning curve for Rust can be steep, as it is a very different language from most others.

Used by: DropBox, Postmates, NPM

Where to learn: Learn Rust by Building Real Applications on Udemy

Final Thoughts

So those are the most popular backend languages for 2023! As you can see, there is a lot of variety here, so there’s sure to be a language that’s perfect for your needs.

If you’re just getting started in backend development, we recommend checking out JavaScript, Ruby, or Python. However, if you’re looking for raw performance, you can’t go wrong with Rust. No matter what your needs are, there’s sure to be a backend language on this list that’s perfect for you.

Happy coding!