Top 10 Most Popular Backend Languages in 2024

Popular Backend Languages

Ever wonder what makes websites and apps work the way they do? It’s all due to some particular backend languages that work behind the scenes.  

In 2023, the tech industry has seen some remarkable trends, with languages like JavaScript, SQL, and Python leading the pack, not just for their functionality but for their mandatory role in shaping the future of technology.

Backend languages ensure everything from video streams to online shopping runs smoothly. From building secure databases to processing complex calculations, these languages are the backbone of every app and website you see on the internet.

In this blog post, we will talk about the top 10 most popular backend languages in 2024. We will examine what each language is best at, what problems it has, and if it could be good for your next coding project.

What are Backend Languages?

Backend languages are programming languages used to create the server side of web applications. Unlike frontend languages that focus on the client side (what users interact with directly in their web browsers), backend languages work on the server to manage database interactions, user authentication, server configuration, and logic.

They essentially run the web application’s “behind the scenes” activities, such as data storage and retrieval, which users don’t see directly but enable the functionality of websites and apps.

Common tasks performed by backend languages include:

  • Database Management: Creating, reading, updating, and deleting data (CRUD operations).
  • User Authentication and Authorization: Verify user identities and ensure they have permission to access certain functions or areas within an app.
  • Server Logic: Implementing the core application logic that dictates a web application’s operation.
  • API Development: Building APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) that allow different software applications to communicate with each other.
  • Application Integration: Linking together different software components or enabling communication between separate applications.

Top 10 Most Popular Backend Languages

1. Python

Python is like the Swiss Army knife of programming languages. It’s designed to be easy to read and write, kind of like reading a book in English. You can use it for all sorts of things, from making websites to analyzing data and even teaching computers to understand human speech or recognize objects in pictures.

Main Features of Python:

  • High-Level Language: Python is user-friendly and doesn’t require knowing the nitty-gritty of your computer’s operating system to get started.
  • Flexible: You can use Python differently, whether you like organizing your code with objects and classes or prefer a simpler, straight-line approach.
  • General-Purpose: Python isn’t just for one specific job. You can use it for web development, data analysis, artificial intelligence, and more.
  • Interpreted: You don’t have to turn your Python code into computer-speak before running it. Just write your code and run it directly.
  • Dynamically Typed: You don’t have to tell Python what type of information (like numbers or text) you will store in a variable ahead of time. Python figures it out as you go.
  • Cross-Platform: Python works on different devices and operating systems, so you can share your Python programs with friends who use other types of computers.

Pros:

  • Highly readable and easy to learn.
  • Suitable for a broad range of tasks.
  • Quick iteration and testing without needing compilation.
  • Platform-independent, enhancing portability.
  • Offers an extensive library ecosystem.
  • Reduces the need for boilerplate code, making programs more flexible.

Cons:

  • Slower execution compared to compiled languages.
  • Not the primary choice for mobile app development.
  • High memory consumption in certain applications.
  • Can result in runtime errors and type mismatches.
  • Packaging and distribution complexities due to diverse environments.

2. Go (Golang)

Go, also known as Golang, is an open-source programming language developed by Google in 2007 and officially launched in 2009. It was created by Robert Griesemer, Rob Pike, and Ken Thompson to address specific challenges in software development at Google, such as improving programming productivity in an era of multicore, networked machines, and large codebases. 

Go is statically typed, compiled, and syntactically similar to C, but with memory safety, garbage collection, structural typing, and CSP-style concurrent programming features.

Features of Go (Golang):

  • Simplicity: Go is designed to be simple and efficient, with a clean syntax.
  • Concurrency: Built-in support for concurrent programming with goroutines and channels.
  • Fast Compilation: Go compiles to machine code very quickly, enhancing developer productivity.
  • Static Typing: Go is statically typed, helping catch errors at compile time.
  • Garbage Collected: Automatically manages memory allocation and deallocation.
  • Standard Library: Comes with a rich standard library that covers a wide array of functionalities.
  • Cross-Platform: Can compile binaries for different platforms directly.

Pros:

  • Easy to learn for those with experience in Java or C.
  • Well-documented and supported by an active community.
  • Suitable for a variety of projects, including web development and cloud computing.
  • Goroutines enable efficient concurrency, making applications scalable.
  • Offers comprehensive programming tools and IDEs.
  • Open-source with a supportive ecosystem for development tools.

Cons:

  • More verbose than languages like Python, requiring more code for similar tasks.
  • Relatively young, with fewer libraries, especially for interfacing with other platforms.
  • Lacks support for generic functions, impacting code reusability.
  • Smaller community and fewer tutorials compared to more established languages.
  • Not as descriptive, which might necessitate future rewriting or refactoring.

3. Rust

Rust is a system programming language focused on safety, speed, and concurrency. It’s known for preventing segmentation faults, ensuring thread safety, and allowing developers to write high-performance code without the usual risks of crashes or security vulnerabilities. Rust’s design aims to offer memory safety without garbage collection, making it an increasingly popular backend language.

Features

  • Memory Safety Without Garbage Collection: Rust achieves memory safety through its ownership model, enabling efficient memory usage without garbage collection overhead.
  • Concurrency Without Data Races: Rust’s type system and ownership model ensure safe concurrency, allowing developers to build scalable backend systems without the common pitfalls of multi-threaded programming.
  • Zero-Cost Abstractions: Rust allows developers to use higher-level programming constructs without incurring a runtime performance penalty, making writing both high-level and low-level system components possible.
  • Cross-Platform Development: Rust supports cross-platform development, making it possible to build and deploy backend systems across various operating systems and environments.
  • Rich Type System and Pattern Matching: Offers advanced features like algebraic data types and pattern matching, facilitating robust error handling and data processing.
  • Cargo and Crates: Rust’s package manager, Cargo, and its package registry, Crates.io, provide an extensive ecosystem of libraries and tools for backend development.
  • Built-in Testing and Documentation: Rust encourages best practices with built-in support for testing and documentation, helping maintain high-quality codebases.

Pros

  • Memory safe – avoid runtime errors
  • Enables high concurrency and performance
  • Low latency and high throughput
  • Backed by web frameworks for backend
  • Strong community and continuous updates
  • Reliable code enforced by compiler

Cons

  • Steep learning curve
  • Longer compilation times
  • Smaller ecosystem than languages like Python
  • Strict compiler can slow initial development

4. Swift

Originally developed for iOS applications, Swift is now making significant strides in backend development thanks to its performance, safety, and modern syntax. It’s becoming a go-to language for developing fast and secure web applications.

Features

  • Performance: Swift was designed to outperform its predecessor languages, with Apple claiming significant speed improvements over Objective-C.
  • Safety: The language includes strong typing and error handling to prevent crashes and bugs in production.
  • Modern Syntax: Swift’s syntax encourages developers to write clean and concise code, making programming in Swift faster and more efficient.
  • Cross-Device Support: Swift can be used to develop applications for all Apple platforms and Linux, with the potential for expansion to other platforms.
  • Full Stack Potential: Swift has been successfully used in server-side development, allowing for the use of a single language across both client and server components.
  • Swift Package Manager: An integrated package management tool for managing Swift code dependencies.
  • Open Source: With strong backing from Apple and a vibrant community, Swift’s open-source nature has contributed to its rapid growth and adoption.

Pros

  • Rapid development
  • Scalable, future-proof
  • Improved performance and safety
  • Easy integration with Objective-C
  • Simplified dependencies
  • Open source community

Cons

  • “Moving Target” with frequent changes
  • Young language, still evolving
  • Smaller talent pool
  • Incomplete cross-platform support
  • Lack of backward compatibility

5. Ruby

Ruby is a dynamic, open-source programming language focusing on simplicity and productivity. It has an elegant syntax that is natural to read and easy to write. 

Developed in the mid-1990s by Yukihiro “Matz” Matsumoto in Japan, Ruby has since become widely used for backend development, largely due to the popular Ruby on Rails web framework. Ruby on Rails (often called Rails) is a full-stack web framework that encourages rapid development and clean, pragmatic design.

Features

  • Dynamic Typing: Ruby’s dynamic nature allows for flexible and dynamic code, which can enhance productivity and reduce development time.
  • Convention Over Configuration (CoC): Ruby on Rails, in particular, emphasizes CoC, which means developers write less code to accomplish the same tasks compared to other frameworks and languages.
  • Don’t Repeat Yourself (DRY): Ruby and Rails advocate for DRY principles, aiming to reduce the repetition of software patterns and foster code reuse.
  • Metaprogramming: Ruby’s metaprogramming capabilities allow for elegant code that can dynamically alter its properties and operations.
  • Built-in Testing Frameworks: Ruby (and Rails) includes built-in support for testing, making test-driven development (TDD) more straightforward.
  • Rich Ecosystem: RubyGems, the Ruby package manager, provides access to thousands of libraries (gems), facilitating the integration of additional functionalities and speeding up the development process.
  • MVC Architecture: Rails uses the Model-View-Controller (MVC) architecture, organizing application programming and facilitating the development of user interfaces.

Pros

  • Rapid backend development
  • Strong community support
  • Readable, elegant syntax
  • Streamlined web services with REST and conventions
  • Great for complex algorithms

Cons

  • Slower runtime performance
  • Dynamic typing leads to runtime errors
  • Declining popularity compared to Node.js, Python
  • Rails “magic” has a sharp learning curve
  • Scaling large apps is challenging

6. Kotlin

Kotlin is a modern, statically typed programming language that runs on the Java Virtual Machine (JVM) and can be used for developing server-side applications. 

Kotlin’s popularity surged after Google announced it as a preferred language for Android development, but its capabilities extend well beyond mobile apps to backend development.

Features

  • Interoperability with Java: Kotlin is 100% interoperable with Java, enabling seamless use of all existing Java libraries, JVM, and frameworks in Kotlin applications.
  • Concise Syntax: Kotlin reduces boilerplate code, making programs easier to write, read, and maintain.
  • Null Safety: The language’s type system is designed to eliminate null pointer exceptions, a common source of runtime errors in Java applications.
  • Coroutines: Kotlin supports asynchronous programming through coroutines, facilitating non-blocking programming and efficient execution of tasks.
  • Functional Programming: Kotlin incorporates functional programming features, such as lambdas, higher-order functions, and immutability, enhancing the expressiveness and flexibility of the code.
  • Scripting Capabilities: Kotlin can be used as a scripting language for gradle build scripts, further simplifying the development process.
  • Tool Support: Excellent support in IntelliJ IDEA and Android Studio and strong command-line tools make the development experience smooth and productive.

Pros

  • Reduces boilerplate code
  • Enhanced safety features prevent crashes
  • Interoperable with Java
  • Simplifies async programming
  • Functional programming capabilities
  • Strong community and support

Cons

  • Smaller ecosystem than Java
  • Slower compilation times
  • Learning curve, especially around null safety
  • Integration with Java can cause subtle issues
  • Fewer backend-focused resources than other languages

7. Elixir

Elixir is a dynamic, functional language designed for building scalable and maintainable applications. Elixir runs on the Erlang VM (BEAM), which runs low-latency, distributed, and fault-tolerant systems. 

Developed by José Valim in 2011, Elixir leverages the Erlang VM’s capabilities while providing a modern syntax and tooling aimed at productivity and extensibility. It’s particularly well-suited for web development distributed and concurrent systems, making it a strong candidate for backend development where performance and reliability are critical.

Features

  • Concurrency and Fault Tolerance: Built on the Erlang VM, Elixir naturally excels in building concurrent, distributed, and fault-tolerant systems without the complexity traditionally associated with such features.
  • Functional Programming: Elixir is a functional programming language, encouraging a coding style that makes applications easier to understand and debug.
  • Immutable Data: All Elixir data is immutable, simplifying parallel processes and enhancing data consistency across concurrent operations.
  • Phoenix Framework: Elixir’s most prominent web development framework, Phoenix, is designed for productivity and performance, making it ideal for real-time web applications.
  • Ecosystem and Tooling: With tools like Mix for build automation and Hex for package management, Elixir provides a robust development environment. Its ecosystem, though younger than some, is vibrant and growing.
  • Metaprogramming: Elixir’s metaprogramming capabilities allow developers to extend the language to fit their application’s specific needs, providing high levels of flexibility and reuse.

Pros

  • Highly scalable and maintainable backends
  • Fault-tolerant by design
  • Simplifies distributed systems
  • Great real-time support via Phoenix
  • Clean and concise code
  • Strong community

Cons

  • Steep learning curve
  • Smaller ecosystem than other languages
  • Harder to find experienced developers
  • New deployment and monitoring tools

8. PHP

PHP (Hypertext Preprocessor) is a widely used, open-source scripting language suited for web development, which can be embedded into HTML. Originally created by Rasmus Lerdorf in 1994, PHP has evolved significantly over the years. It’s particularly favored for server-side development, enabling dynamic content, database interactions, session tracking, and building entire e-commerce sites. PHP runs on various platforms (Windows, Linux, Unix, etc.) and is compatible with almost all servers used today (Apache, IIS, etc.).

Features

  • Ease of Use: PHP is known for its straightforward syntax and ease of learning, making it accessible for beginners in web development.
  • Flexibility: PHP is highly flexible, whether it’s during the development process or after deploying the application. It integrates seamlessly with various databases and technologies.
  • Cost-Efficiency: Being open-source and running on inexpensive hosting services, PHP is cost-effective for projects of all sizes.
  • Rich Ecosystem: There’s a vast selection of PHP frameworks, such as Laravel, Symfony, and CodeIgniter, which expedite the development process with robust functionalities.
  • Comprehensive Documentation: PHP has extensive documentation and a large community, providing ample learning resources and support.
  • Cross-Platform: PHP is platform-independent and runs on various operating systems, offering great flexibility regarding hosting options.

Pros

  • Wide hosting support
  • Large community
  • Mature frameworks
  • Interoperable
  • Good performance
  • Easy to integrate with CMS

Cons

  • Security vulnerabilities
  • Inconsistencies in the standard library
  • Slower for highly concurrent apps
  • Enables disorganized code
  • Outdated perception

9. C#

C# (pronounced “C Sharp”) is a modern, object-oriented, and type-safe programming language developed by Microsoft as part of its .NET framework initiative. Launched in 2000, C# was designed to combine the computing power of C++ with the programming ease of Visual Basic. 

It is used for a wide range of applications, including web, mobile, and desktop applications, and is particularly known for its robustness in building Windows desktop applications and games with Unity. In the context of backend development, C# is commonly used with the .NET framework (and .NET Core for cross-platform development) to create scalable, secure, and efficient web services and applications.

Features

  • Type Safety: C# is a statically typed language, which helps catch errors at compile time before they become issues in production.
  • Object-Oriented: It follows the object-oriented paradigm, enabling developers to create modular, reusable code components.
  • Modern Language Constructs: C# supports modern programming concepts, including generics, LINQ (Language Integrated Query), asynchronous programming with async/await, and more.
  • Cross-Platform: With the advent of .NET Core, C# applications can run on Linux, macOS, and Windows, making it a versatile choice for backend development.
  • Rich .NET Ecosystem: C# developers have access to a vast ecosystem provided by the .NET framework, including a wide range of libraries, tools, and frameworks for web development like ASP.NET Core.
  • Integrated Development Environment (IDE): C# is supported by powerful IDEs, notably Visual Studio, which provides extensive tools for debugging, code analysis, and testing.
  • Memory Management: Automatic garbage collection in C# manages memory efficiently, reducing leaks and improving application performance.

Pros

  • Strong performance
  • Security features
  • Scalability
  • Mature tools (Visual Studio)
  • Thriving community & docs
  • Versatile for web, desktop, and cloud

Cons

  • Steep learning curve
  • More Windows focused
  • Can be resource-intensive
  • Rapid framework evolution
  • Constant learning required

10. ASP.NET Core

ASP.NET Core is an open-source, high-performance web framework for building modern, cloud-based, internet-connected applications. Developed by Microsoft, it’s a redesign of ASP.NET, with architectural changes that result in a leaner, more modular framework. ASP.NET Core allows developers to build web applications and services, IoT apps, and mobile backends. Being cross-platform, it runs on Windows, Linux, and macOS, making it a versatile choice for web development projects.

Features

  • Cross-Platform: Enables development and deployment on Windows, Linux, and macOS.
  • Unified Framework: Offers a unified story for building web UI and APIs, supported by tools like Razor Pages and Blazor.
  • Performance: Designed for high performance, outperforming many other popular web frameworks.
  • Modular: Its modular framework allows developers to include only the necessary components, reducing app footprint and optimizing performance.
  • Dependency Injection: Built-in support for dependency injection allows for more decoupled and testable code.
  • Environment-based Configuration: Simplifies managing different settings across development, staging, and production environments.
  • Side-by-side Versioning: Supports running multiple applications and .NET Core versions on the same server.
  • Robust Security Features: Includes built-in features to protect against cross-site scripting (XSS), cross-site request forgery (CSRF), and SQL injection, among other threats.

Pros

  • Flexible deployment options
  • Rapid development
  • Leverages .NET ecosystem
  • Scalable
  • Strong community & support
  • Comprehensive docs

Cons

  • Steep learning curve
  • Windows-focused tools
  • Can be resource-intensive
  • Frequent updates to keep pace with

Wrapping Up

The best backend languages to use depends on the particular needs of your project. User-friendliness, performance, community support, and scalability are important factors. Well-liked favorites like JavaScript/Node.js, Java, C#, and Ruby remain dependable options for various applications that are capable of meeting changing development requirements.

On the other hand, new arrivals such as Go and Rust offer remarkable speed and strong security features that are optimized for modern infrastructure settings. In the meantime, languages like Kotlin combine new ideas with established frameworks to provide novel viewpoints inside well-known environments like the Java virtual machine.

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