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Which programming language is best for CMS development?

computer screen showing PHP code, which programming language is most popular for cms development

Organizations leverage a variety of programming languages to build content management systems. Among the most popular are C#, Java, PHP and Python. And though some technical experts will swear by their favorites, it begs the question—which is the best to use?

The short answer: there isn’t a “best” language to use to develop a CMS. As there are many ways to climb to the top of the proverbial mountain, so, too, are there many viable programming languages to use to create a CMS.

Choosing a programming language for your CMS is really a discussion of a few different things:

  • Availability of developers who know the language
  • Availability of web solutions in the language
  • Staying power of the language itself

That being the case, the best programming language for CMS development is whichever works best for your organization when considering those three points above.

computer code example, which programming language is most popular for cms development

Pros and cons of the most popular CMS programming langues

Below are a few reasons why organizations might choose certain CMS programming languages over the others.

What are the pros and cons of Java for CMS development?

Java, for one, is an extremely popular language in software development. Java developers are everywhere. That means the hiring pool is exponentially larger than it would be with many other languages.

Java is a straightforward, class-based, object-oriented language that allows developers to easily reuse their code in many different places.

However, some technical personnel don't like Java due to its speed and verbosity. It can be memory-consuming, and slower than other, natively compiled languages.

What are the pros and cons of C# for CMS development?

C# is similar to Java. It's another general-purpose, object-oriented programming language, and it's about five years younger than Java; however, C# has some native capabilities, like changing a certain type to add fields to it, that other languages like Java may not have.

C# is also a very popular language, expanding the potential hiring pool. It also integrates well with Windows (it's part of Window's .NET framework), and carries some security assurance given that it's a compiled language, preventing hackers from having access to the source code in the case that they hack you; however, applications that use compile code need to be re-compiled and re-deployed any time a change is made, major or minor, which can be a time suck.

What are the pros and cons of PHP for CMS development?

PHP is a web-programming language that was made to code the back end for websites. That being the case, there are a number of available tools, and the language itself is tailored for these kinds of use cases. It's a shoe-in language for content management systems.

Like Java and C#, it's a straightforward language. If you're familiar with one of the others, you'll pick up PHP pretty quickly. It also comes with built-in database connection modules that serve to reduce development time (and headaches) related to applications and sites.

However, if a developer were to choose between PHP and, say, Python, Python would win out due to PHP's lack of machine learning libraries and thus potential inability to scale in the future business needs.

What are the pros and cons of Python for CMS development?

Python, which has been rising in popularity over the past decade, ranks among the easier programming languages to learn. As such, there are countless Python libraries that already exist, and many exist for web development. It's also a great language for prototyping (as you would expect from a language very commonly used by data scientists). Like Java, due to its popularity, the hiring pool is much wider than it would be with other programming languages, too.

There's always the other side of the coin, though. One con is that Python is dynamically typed, which back-end engineers classically dislike since it is more prone to errors. And those errors are easier to introduce, and harder to find.

No matter which language best supports your efforts, again, keep in mind the three bullets above: how well known the language is, how readily available web solutions are for the language, and how likely the language will persist into the future.

Other CMS programming language considerations

  • The language should lend itself to being easily read and understood, which will save some headache during code review.
  • How "whole" is the programming language you want to use? If you must re-create elements that you wouldn't need to re-create if you used a different language, then that's worth considering.
  • The language should be flexible enough to lend itself to different goals your organization may have.
  • It's helpful if the language has a community around it; that way, your developers can leverage the community to solve problems, or simply to import existing libraries and save themselves time.

Brightspot's preferred CMS programming language

After originally weighing C#, Brightspot eventually landed on using Java as its programming language of choice. It was hard to pass up on the popularity, especially in 2008, when Brightspot CMS began.

Brightspot enables developers to model content types with Java classes. With Java, a data model can be altered by modifying the Java classes that define it, without regard to database schema or other configurations.

Brightspot's editorial user interface is automatically derived from the underlying Java classes that describe the content objects.

So, Java is crucial to what Brightspot does best: intuitive content types, highly flexible integrations, APIs, changes to customer business logic, intuitive workflows, smart roles and permissioning, deep rich-text editing—and more.

If you're eyeing programming languages as you initialize the next content management system, keep these thoughts in mind. But if you'd like to save time with something that's already built to meet every use case—and getting better each day—try Brightspot first.

Start building in a free trial environment, see a demo, or talk to an expert—select one of these paths and start however you would like to!

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