Some people say that the best programming language is the one that the developer knows best.
This is a joke, but there’s some truth behind every joke.
How to Choose the Right Language for an IoT Project
When choosing tools to perform a certain task, we should always consider programming languages in relation to technologies because technologies are the basis for developing various software types. And the chosen technology imposes requirements on the choice of language.
To build a roadmap for your project, you need to decide which technologies to use for product implementation. If there is no rigid requirement for one technology, the choice should be made based on the following factors:
- Undoubted popularity — the popularity of a preferred language is not about being in trend, it's more about having a stable, time-tested, and positive reputation.
- Regular version updates — systematic introduction of new features and fixes are important for keeping your product at its peak performance.
- Good technical support and up-to-date documentation — the selected technology should be thoroughly documented to provide a point of reference for IoT developers whenever a need arises.
- Large online community — a big developer community means evergreen innovation that will help a programming language endure through the decades.
The right choice of an IoT development language will allow you to find a team more easily and cheaply while ensuring that you can always find more people to develop or maintain your product if necessary.
Talking about IoT development, we can divide a project into three parts:
- The firmware
- The backend
- The client applications
Let's talk about each part in more detail.
Most Popular Programming Languages for Firmware Development
If your device has a board like Arduino, then the firmware will most likely be developed in the built-in C-like language. Everything is simple and clear enough, then. You will need a developer who knows the syntax of the C language (and almost any developer knows it) and preferably who has experience in programming such devices.
But if Arduino's capabilities are not enough for your product, you should consider more advanced systems like Raspberry Pi and its analogs. These systems usually have the Linux operating system on board, but you can install Microsoft Windows if you wish.
Python is the most common language for Raspberry Pi and is overall a great choice for IoT projects. There are many examples and ready-made solutions on the network. Thus, Python is a go-to scripting language for building different web applications and machine learning solutions, and it has applications in different electronics projects as well.
Also, Python is a platform-neutral technology that can run on multiple platforms, such as Windows, Linux, and macOS. Therefore, it allows you to write code once and run it on different IoT devices and systems with no compatibility issues.
Java is one of the most popular programming languages, including for IoT applications. This is a versatile, object-oriented programming language that can run on any type of system, thanks to a Java Virtual Machine. This is important for IoT projects, as devices that are part of the Internet of Things can be based on a variety of operating systems. Its security features, portability, and scalability make Java an unbeatable classic for IoT-based projects.
Java is also a synonym for great performance. This helps IoT devices operate as intended despite their limited resources. Finally, Java supports functional programming that solves the challenges of scalability and concurrency. This covers the requirements of a huge IoT ecosystem and enables a multitude of simultaneous connections in the network.
The C language is a good option for projects on Arduino and similar platforms. This language is very popular for firmware development as a low-level programming language. Its reliability and scalability make the C programming language a standard for IoT development.
Unlike the technologies we mentioned above, C is not platform-independent. However, developers can reuse code to develop IoT applications for a specific platform.
Kotlin is a modern and rapidly evolving language, especially among Java developers. In terms of IoT mobile application development, this programming language comes forward over alternatives because of its security and interoperability with Java code. This language also makes it easy to build high-performance applications with reduced memory consumption.
Programming Languages for Building an IoT Backend
The backend application is developed independently of the fact that this is an IoT project. The server load, data volumes, etc., are more important factors here. In this case, the choice will be almost the same, but on the condition that the team has experience in projects with the complex business logic needed for the future server.
Let's mention the top five programming languages for IoT backend development.
Most websites are developed using this programming language. PHP is a platform-agnostic, fast, and easily maintainable language, which is a winning combination for backend development.
The main PHP frameworks at the moment are Symfony and Laravel. Both are strong, reliable PHP frameworks used for a variety of both long-term and small-scale development tasks.
The simple syntax of the language has made it very popular among developers of different tech spheres. Python has many frameworks and libraries for various tasks, including backend development for IoT projects. Its unmatched speed and large number of libraries make Python a proven option when it comes to IoT.
Ruby is considered one of the most reliable programming languages. It has an active community and is well-documented. For most tasks, the Ruby on Rails framework is used. Ruby on Rails is a robust framework for building backend applications with databases.
Java has a good reputation as a multipurpose language for backend projects. The main backend framework is Spring, but many development teams are switching to Kotlin/Spring due to easier writing and reading of code.
This is a popular language in many areas of development. It had its origins in C++ but is considered to be a simpler and more convenient alternative. This coding language doesn't consume much processing power and has error-handling capabilities. Together with the .Net platform, C# was developed by Microsoft and has good technical support.
IoT Programming Languages for Client Applications
Client applications for IoT devices are developed like any other client application on client-server systems. The choice of programming languages and other technologies will be based on the client platforms for which these apps will be developed. Such platforms can be:
- iOS, iPadOS and Android mobile operating systems;
- Frontend web for internet browsers and other devices based on web technologies;
- Desktop operating systems such as macOS, Windows, and Linux;
- Game consoles;
- Other highly specialized platforms.
If you already know which devices your custom app should run on to control and monitor the developed IoT system, this will be the starting point for choosing a programming language and other technologies for client application development.
The Bottom Line
All projects are unique, and so are their tech stacks. Although there is uniformity in the best programming languages, IoT development is multilingual. It means you need to handpick an optimal set of technologies based on the unique requirements of your project.
If you need professional advice on the right tech stack, Orangesoft is always here to help you out. Share your project details, and our developers will determine the best set of technologies to power your IoT ecosystem.