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Why Are There Different Programming Languages?

I’ve Always Wanted To Know:

Why Are There Different Programming Languages?


To create a program for a computer, an app for a phone or even a website, you need to know one of a large variety of programming languages. Programming languages tell the computers what to do and allow you to interact with the computer to perform functions such as making a document, controlling game charactersand photo editing. Like spoken language, each has its own rules and common areas of use. Why are there so many? Why is a webpage written in a different language than a Windows program or a game?

The primary reason for many different programming languages, is that there are many different types of programs and computers. Some programming languages are designed to be used by many different computer configurations and operating systems . Some languages just control elements inside of a program, (these are usually referred to as scripting languages) while others define and create the entire program themselves (these are referred to as system programming languages).

HTML, the language used to write webpages, is an example of a scripting language. Since HTML runs inside of a program, (a web browser) it needs to only define how to control aspects of the browser such as its ability to display text and images or get input from users. If a web browser complies with the HTML standard, it will be able to understand the code and display the page correctly.

In comparison, a programming language like C++, a system programming language, is used when a programmer needs maximum flexibility to design the program the way they choose. The downside of programming languages like C++, is that everything from the basic interface to the mathematical equations that run the program, must be defined and included by the programmer.

Want to see an example of the differences the programing language can make when writing a simple application? All the code below would produce the same thing; the text “Hello World”.

There are over 20 programming languages currently used today.  What are some of the most popular?

Windows Applications: C#, Visual C++, Visual Basic.Net, DirectX API’s, HTML 5, Java

Mac OS Applications: Objective C, X Code with Cocoa Framework, Java

iPhone Apps: Objective C with Cocoa Framework

Android Apps: Java and some C#

Web Pages: HTML, CSS, Flash, JavaScript, Java, PHP, Perl, ASP.net

TV’s & Electronics: Assembly and C#


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