What Front End Programming Languages Should You Learn?

William Imoh William Imoh

Just starting out in web or mobile development? You may feel swamped by all the programming languages, libraries, and frameworks. With new options popping up daily, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. This guide will help you navigate that initial confusion.

As someone who’s been through this process for over a decade, I’ve made this post to make your learning journey smoother.

I’ll focus on the essential front-end languages, libraries, and frameworks, equipping you with the knowledge you need to make informed decisions, a roadmap to help you focus on the right skills, and build a rewarding career in front-end development.

Top front-end programming languages to learn in 2024

Here are the front-end programming languages you should learn in 2024.

For web front-end development:

  • HyperText Markup Language (HTML)
  • Cascading Style Sheet (CSS)
  • JavaScript
  • TypeScript

For mobile front-end development:

  • Dart
  • Swift
  • Kotlin

Front-end programming languages for web development

Web development involves building websites, web applications, and web services that users interact with through web browsers. Front-end development focuses on the user interface (UI) and user experience (UX) aspects of web applications, ensuring that the content is visually appealing, interactive, and responsive.

HyperText Markup Language (HTML)

HTML serves as the backbone for building all web pages. It defines the structure and layout of content within a web browser, allowing for the display of text, images, videos, and more that users interact with. HTML is beginner-friendly, supported across multiple browsers, and fundamental to web development.

HTML depends on languages like CSS and JavaScript to achieve full functionality, and it is mostly limited to web-based projects.

Cascading Style Sheet (CSS)

CSS plays a crucial role in determining the appearance and organization of web content. When used in conjunction with HTML, it enhances the appearance and layout of web pages, enabling the creation of responsive designs that adapt to various screen sizes. CSS handles colors, fonts, spacing, and more, allowing developers to create visually appealing user interfaces.

CSS has powerful styling options, is easy to start with, and has a great ecosystem of libraries and frameworks like Tailwind CSS, Bootstrap, Foundation, etc., to build aesthetically pleasing user interfaces.

CSS can present inconsistent designs, as browsers may interpret it differently. Additionally, managing CSS in a large project can be difficult, as there are no strict rules for writing it.

JavaScript

JavaScript is a versatile programming language used in conjunction with HTML and CSS to enhance the interaction of web pages. With features like excellent speed and cross-browser compatibility, JavaScript enables developers to add dynamic elements such as content updates, animations, 2D/3D graphics, and other interactive features to web applications.

JavaScript is essential for web development and has a vast ecosystem of libraries and frameworks for building applications across multiple platforms.

JavaScript implementation varies across different browsers, creating vulnerabilities for users. They may face threats such as unauthorized data access and system manipulation by injecting malicious code. Additionally, if JavaScript is disabled in a browser, certain features and functionality might not work, adversely affecting the user experience.

TypeScript

TypeScript is a robust and widely used programming language developed by Microsoft, which extends JavaScript by adding static typing and other advanced features. TypeScript code transpiles to JavaScript and can run seamlessly wherever JavaScript runs, making it a highly versatile programming language for front-end development.

TypeScript enhances your developer experience by identifying errors during development and providing fixes, speeding up the development process.

TypeScript has a steeper learning curve than JavaScript, and it reduces development speed because an additional compilation step is required.

Front-end programming languages for mobile development

Mobile development involves building applications for mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets. Front-end development for mobile applications focuses on creating user interfaces that are optimized for mobile platforms, ensuring a seamless user experience.

Dart

Dart is a powerful, multi-purpose programming language designed for building high-quality applications on various platforms. It offers features such as sound null safety, object-oriented programming (OOP), pattern matching, and more, enabling developers to build and model robust software.

Dart is the primary language for Flutter, enabling compilation to native code and providing portability and speed for building applications across web and mobile platforms using a single codebase.

Dart is strongly integrated with the Flutter framework, which may limit its support and resources outside of the framework. moreover, Dart has limited adoption compared to other programming languages, restricting its usage in other domains.

Swift

Swift is a high-level, multi-paradigm, compiled programming language developed for all Apple platforms. It was released in 2014 to replace Apple’s earlier programming language, Objective-C. Swift is known for its speed, modernity, and safety, making it ideal for building iOS (mobile) applications, macOS (desktop), and other Apple platforms.

Swift is fast, secure, and has a smaller memory footprint due to its standard libraries being integrated by default.

Swift is primarily designed to support the Apple platform and has limited support for cross-platform development.

Kotlin

Kotlin is a cross-platform, statically typed, general-purpose programming language renowned for building robust and scalable applications. It serves as Google’s preferred language for Android app development. Initially released in July 2011, Kotlin has rapidly expanded its adoption beyond mobile app development. It is now employed for server-side, full stack, and data science applications.

Kotlin is based on Java but with enhanced capabilities, reliability, and ease of maintenance. It is the go-to language for developing modern Android applications and is backed by major organizations.

However, it’s worth noting that compared to Java, job opportunities and adoption of Kotlin across software development are limited.

Top front-end frameworks and libraries to learn in 2024

While programming languages are essential for creating robust applications that meet business needs, they can become burdensome when developing medium to large applications. Issues like lack of code reusability, maintainability challenges, time-consuming development, and repetition may arise.

Frameworks and libraries offer a solution by providing a structured approach to application development. They offer pre-written code, reusable functions, coding standards, and architectural patterns that developers can leverage for common tasks, thus saving time and effort. Additionally, frameworks often have built-in security, scalability, and performance optimization features, enhancing overall software quality.

You should explore these frontend frameworks and libraries in 2024:

  • React
  • Vue
  • Angular
  • Svelte
  • Solid.js
  • Next.js
  • Remix
  • Nuxt
  • Astro

React

React is a widely adopted JavaScript library developed by Meta and a vibrant community of individual contributors. It empowers developers to construct interfaces by assembling individual pieces known as components. React provides a reusable modular architecture through reusable components and a sophisticated rendering engine, facilitating the creation and management of small- to large applications.

Over the years, React has undergone technological advancements and has become the foundation for various frameworks such as Next.js, Gatsby, and Remix. These frameworks build upon React’s core capabilities, offering additional features and functionalities to streamline the development of web applications.

Vue

Vue is a JavaScript framework designed for developing user interfaces, leveraging the model-view-view model (MVVM) architecture to separate the user interface from the application’s business logic. Vue extends HTML elements to facilitate the creation of reusable code components. It provides several built-in features, including templating, reactivity, and transitions. Additionally, Vue offers support for various libraries, making it suitable for developing applications like Single-Page Applications (SPAs), desktop and mobile applications of various scales, from small projects to large enterprise applications.

Vue has also become the foundation of frameworks like Nuxt.js, VuePress, and Vuetify, offering pre-built components, server-side rendering, themes, and much more for building complex websites and applications.

Angular

Angular is an open-source front-end framework developed by the Angular team at Google, along with contributions from individual developers. Built on TypeScript, Angular provides a well-structured framework with features like two-way data binding, reactive programming, dependency injection, and modular architecture. These features are particularly beneficial and make Angular trusted for building enterprise-grade applications.

Notably, many other frameworks and open-source libraries have drawn inspiration from Angular’s paradigm and architectural patterns, attesting to its influence and popularity within the web development community.

Svelte

Svelte is an open-source component-based front-end framework for building web applications. It follows the paradigm of existing web frameworks but takes a unique approach with less code, no virtual Document Object Model (DOM), and reactivity. Svelte also powers frameworks like SvelteKit, a library for building production-ready applications.

Solid.js

Solid.js is a declarative JavaScript framework for building UI with maximum control over reactivity; it does not re-render to get updates. It shares similarities with React but doesn’t use the virtual DOM. Instead, it uses a compiler that converts its code to vanilla JavaScript. Solid.js supports all modern library features like fragments, portals, context, suspense, lazy components, etc., for a better developer experience.

Next.js

Next.js is an open-source web development framework built on React’s latest features. It has built-in features like dynamic HTML streaming, client and server rendering, server actions, data fetching, middleware, and more. It allows you to build a full-stack web application within a single project.

Remix

Like Next.js, Remix is a full-stack web development framework built on React’s latest features. It utilizes classic and standard web fundamentals for crafting HTML forms and allows you to build your front-end and back-end in an innovative way.

Nuxt

Nuxt is an open-source framework for building full-stack web applications powered by Vue. It comes with features like file-based routing, data fetching, server routes, TypeScript support, middleware, and more, making it ideal for building scalable applications.

Astro

Astro is an open-source web framework for building content-heavy websites like e-commerce platforms, blogs, and marketing websites. Compared to other frameworks, it reduces JavaScript overhead, loads faster, and has excellent SEO support. Additionally, it features Island, a component-based architecture optimized for content-driven websites. It is UI-agnostic, supporting other UI libraries such as Vue, Svelte, React, web components, etc.

Other innovative front-end languages and frameworks

Web and mobile platforms become increasingly powerful as more use cases are unlocked. This trend has led to increased technology actively creating bridges to integrate front-end usage in libraries and frameworks, enhancing user experience. Below are some languages and frameworks bridging the gap to make front-end development even more accessible:

HTMX

HTMX is a dependency-free UI library for the web, which can replace traditional front-end libraries with the simplicity of HTML. It introduces new attributes to HTML to handle complex requirements of modern UIs, such as AJAX, CSS Transitions, WebSockets, and Server-Sent Events.

React Native

React Native enables the development of cross-platform mobile applications, such as Android and iOS, using React.js. It compiles to native mobile code, which allows you to “write once and ship everywhere.” Thanks to the complimentary React.js community, React Native also features a rich tooling and plugin ecosystem.

WebAssembly and front-end development

WebAssembly (or Wasm) is a binary instruction format serving as a compilation target for programming languages, enabling them to run efficiently in web browsers. It empowers developers to write high-performance code in languages like C, C++, and Rust, which can then be seamlessly integrated into web applications, enhancing web front-end development capabilities.

Beyond the web, WebAssembly has also gained adoption in various domains, such as game distribution, server-side applications, hybrid native apps on mobile devices, and symmetric computations.

Companies like Figma, AutoCAD, and cloud-native companies actively leverage WebAssembly to meet their performance needs and contribute to the WebAssembly ecosystem by building libraries, tools, and packages that enhance its capabilities.

How do you select the right front-end programming language?

Choosing the right front-end programming language to learn is an important decision. It shouldn’t be taken lightly, as it significantly impacts your career trajectory and success. This section examines some points to help you select a front-end programming language to learn in 2024.

The points are:

  • Project requirement
  • Targeted platform
  • Career trajectory and opportunity
  • Ecosystem and community support

Project requirement

A specific project’s scope, goals, and features play an essential role in selecting the right language to learn, and answering these questions is vital:

  • What kind of application are you building?
  • How complex is the data flow and logic?
  • Is customization and scalability important?

The answers will help narrow your options and focus on languages that suit the project’s needs. For example, if you are building a dynamic application for data collection, JavaScript or PHP alongside HTML and CSS are excellent choices.

Targeted platform

The web, mobile, TV, and other screen-enabled electronic devices present users with interfaces they touch, see and interact with. Having a good understanding of the supported languages on such platforms is important. For example, building an application for the Apple platform involves using languages like Swift, Dart (via Flutter), and JavaScript (via React Native).

Career trajectory and opportunity

It is important to carefully evaluate the stage of your career before making a choice. For example, if you are a beginner in technology, web development languages like HTML, CSS, and JavaScript might be a good entry point because of their gradual learning curve. On the other hand, an experienced developer seeking to expand their knowledge within the web ecosystem might opt for TypeScript, as it is widely adopted for mission-critical applications.

In addition, if you plan to learn a new language to secure a job, it’s essential to carefully research the location, available job opportunities, and the technologies most companies are adopting, including the programming languages powering them.

Ecosystem and community support

Before selecting a language, assess the size and activity level of the community in terms of available resources. Then, look at the updates, fixes, patches, and innovations surrounding libraries and frameworks in the language. For example, the JavaScript ecosystem constantly releases updates to libraries and frameworks.

In summary, essential languages to learn in 2024 include HTML for structure, CSS for styling, and JavaScript for interactivity. TypeScript, Dart, Swift, and Kotlin are also significant.

Furthermore, users’ evolving needs will continue to directly impact the approach to front-end development. This evolution will spur the rise of new technologies, libraries, and frameworks and prompt existing technologies to update their solutions. Business requirements will also play a significant role in determining the choice of technologies during front-end development.

Staying informed about these changes is critical, as is knowing the appropriate path to follow when learning or adopting new technology. The front-end roadmap is a reliable source of truth for developers seeking to stay updated and informed about the changes that may arise in front-end development.

Beyond having access to a reliable roadmap, an essential aspect of learning is monitoring your progress, demonstrating your skills to potential employers, and joining a supportive community. Sign up to get started on the frontend roadmap while tracking your progress.

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