Code Institute’s Daragh Ó Tuama explains what budding app developers need to know when it comes to programming languages.
App development is the complex process of designing, implementing and developing mobile applications. Apps are developed either by freelancers or by a team of skilled developers belonging to a giant firm.
There are countless aspects to consider when it comes to app development such as app size, design, concept and many more. To get optimal results, a skilled developer must have knowledge in all these areas.
However, is it easy to create an app? The answer depends on you. It is really simple to develop an app if you understand and practice adequately.
First thing, even before choosing a programming language, you need to decide for which platform you are writing the program. As we all know, there are two main platforms for mobile apps: iOS and Android. So, to get started, choose one of the two options.
You can choose one or both, but you should be familiar with two concepts: native development and cross-platform programming.
With native development, developers choose a platform and produce software exclusively for that platform. If you are a native Android developer, you create native Android apps that run only on Android; similarly, if you are an iOS developer, you build native iOS apps that run only on iOS.
Cross-platform development is the term used to describe apps that are built once and can run on any platform, including Android and iOS.
After choosing the above options, you need to learn the relevant programming languages.
Whether it is software, web or application development, there is no way that Python cannot be used in it.
The increasingly popular programming language, which is known for its simple syntax and powerful features, has earned a reputation among beginners and professionals alike.
Python is used to program the backends of some prominent applications that we use every day, such as YouTube, Instagram, and Pinterest. We can see the power of Python by looking at the above applications, which stand out for their popularity, efficiency and security.
Other reasons to learn Python:
- Easy to read, learn and write code
- It is an interpreted language
- Free and open source
- It has extensive library support
- Python is flexible
Python is also widely used in various technology fields including machine learning, data analytics and many more.
- Since it is an interpreted language, the execution speed is impeccable
- The syntax structure is simple and easy to understand
- There are numerous valuable frameworks such as jQuery, Angular, Vue and Svelte
Java is an approved language for Android application development. Therefore, to start your app developer journey, learning Java will most likely not only help you quickly master app development, but also help you quickly understand other related languages.
Java has its own set of open source libraries, including a host of functions and APIs that developers can easily integrate into their code.
Other reasons to learn Java:
- Java is an object-oriented language
- Java can run in a variety of settings, including virtual machines and browsers
- Code reusability and portability
- Strong memory management
Another advantage of owning Java is its ubiquity. Since Java is a versatile programming language, it is also used in developing websites and software. By learning it, you can learn more than just app development and it can be useful in the long run if you need to change careers.
Kotlin is another official Android development language. This is thanks to its roots in Java. So yes, Kotlin is very similar to Java and can be thought of as a more advanced version of Java programming.
Kotlin allows developers to create more powerful and complex mobile applications.
Other reasons to learn Kotlin:
- Writing programs in Kotlin means less robust code
- It is fully compatible with Java
- Developers can use Kotlin to build platform-independent applications
- It features a simple and straightforward syntax
- Includes Android Toolkit and SDK
Kotlin can be a great and accessible alternative for beginners who find Java difficult.
Dart is a relatively new programming language compared to other languages that have been around for a long time.
It can be used both on the front and back. The syntax is comparable to C, making it simple to pick up.
Another distinctive aspect of Dart is that it is a programming language designed specifically for Android development by Google.
Other reasons to learn Dart:
- It has a clean syntax
- There are a number of versatile tools to help with programming
- Dart is portable
- Used by Flutter
- Can write and execute code anywhere
Dart also allows developers to create web-based applications in addition to mobile applications.
Swift is a programming language built specifically for designing and developing mobile apps, but only for iOS.
Created by technology giant Apple, Swift is a multi-paradigm, general-purpose compiled programming language.
Before the introduction of Swift, the preferred and common programming language for iOS app development was Objective C. Swift’s flexibility and robustness has replaced the need for Objective C.
Other reasons to learn Swift:
- It has a concise code structure
- It has efficient memory management
- Swift is fast to execute
- It supports dynamic libraries
- It is consistent with objective C
As one of the most popular programming languages for iOS app developers, Swift allows users to learn and develop apps quickly and easily.
Although not exactly a preferred programming language for developing applications, with C++ developers can expect to create powerful applications.
C++ is used to create Android apps and native app development. Mainly, using this programming language, games, cloud and banking applications are created.
Other reasons to learn C++:
- C++ is a multi-paradigm programming language
- C++ is an object-oriented programming language and includes classes, inheritance, polymorphism, data abstraction, and encapsulation
- Supports dynamic memory allocation
- C++ codes run faster
- It is a platform independent language
Because C++ applications can run on any platform, developers can use it to create cross-platform applications for Android, iOS, and Windows.
Learn the essential concepts
Having a solid grasp of the basics is necessary to become a well-rounded app developer. Without mastering them, building complex applications will become tedious.
Below are some basic notions in any programming language:
- Data structures
- Control structures
Choose a good programming course
One needs a mentor to understand and grasp the intricacies of a programming language or a similar profession.
Before you choose a course, make sure that course is for you. For example, if you are a beginner, choose courses that are designed for beginners that can give you a generous technological stack. On the other hand, if you already have adequate programming knowledge, you can choose either beginners or go for intermediate.
Join the community
Every programming language has a dedicated community that is active with a large number of skilled developers. Joining such communities will help keep you updated about the latest features and tactics of the particular language.
Some of the popular platforms for programming communities are:
- Stack Overflow
- Reddit subreddits
For example, if you’re learning Python, join the Python community on any of the platforms above. The same goes for other programming languages.
Also, if you have any questions regarding any misconceptions, you can find answers in these communities as most of the doubts you face are not new.
Build mini apps
While learning app development, try to put your knowledge to work during the learning period instead of waiting for the course to end.
Try building mini apps first. It can be as simple as a Hello World app that displays ‘hello world’. Then try upgrading to calculator, memo, weather forecast and more.
Since programming is a skill that only grows through practice, it is essential to practice while learning.
While developing mini projects, it is also common to encounter errors. Instead of relying on communities, try to fix the bugs yourself. Doing this will improve your problem-solving ability, which is a great skill that every recruiter looks for in a developer.
By Daragh Ó Tuama
Daragh Ó Tuama is Code Institute’s digital content and production manager. A version of this article previously appeared on the Code Institute blog.
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