A Multitude of Computer Programming Languages

According to one online programming fanatic, there are 2500 computer programming languages in use today, by someone, somewhere. This article will stick to the languages that are in widespread use today which, by themselves, number perhaps a score or more and are difficult to separate and categorize anyway.

As with many terms in the computer industry, the definition of what constitutes a programming language is subject to debate. One definition holds that a programming language (like other languages) is a set of formal specifications that define syntax, vocabulary and meaning. An interesting crossover to the language arts: here are the criteria contained in that definition:

Data types Data structures Instruction and control flow Design philosophy Compilation and interpretation

A Multitude of Computer Programming Languages

Without getting into detail on what those components mean, they do provide some idea of what constitutes a language. It’s a construction design tool with its own proprietary building materials. Some languages are designed and function best with certain categories of software. Here is a list of commonly used programming languages:

  • Java
  • C
  • C++
  • Perl
  • PHP
  • Visual Basic
  • SQL
  • Python
  • Shell
  • dBase
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Java and PHP are languages that are principally used for internet applications, although Java was designed by Sun Computers with the hope of a much further reach.

Visual Basic is a language developed to be accessible to all programmers for building applications that run on Microsoft platforms. It has been immensely popular because of its ease of use. Visual Basic.net is also on the market today, applying the techniques developed in Visual Basic to an HTML environment. The drag-and-drop feature is an example of a Visual Basic innovation. The program can be used to create an attractive graphical user interface (GUI) with ease. GUI is the appearance of the screen you see when the program is open, and how the buttons and controls on that screen function.

C was developed in Bell Labs in the early seventies as an all purpose computer language. Its successor, C++, differs from C in that it is an object-oriented programming language, providing a fundamentally different set of tools. C++ has been so commonly used that one version of it has gained semi-official status as a programming standard under the acronym ANSI (American National Standards Institute).

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Both Java and dBase are used to create database programs. SQL is another Microsoft-based language that is used for database programs and for data transmission protocols. Increasingly, database programs are becoming the realm of business software producers such as Oracle and Siebel, producing sophisticated database programs that require installation and training from the company’s sales staff.