Should Web Developers Know Lua?
Since its development by Roberto Ierusalimschy, Luiz Henrique de Figueiredo, and Waldemar Celes in 1993, Lua grew in popularity and usage in web development and other software development fields.
But in recent times, its popularity has drastically decreased. According to statistics from w3techs.com, “Lua is used by less than 0.1% of all the websites whose server-side programming language we know.”
Lua is a lightweight, high-level, multi-paradigm programming language designed mainly for embedded use in applications. It is built on top of the C programming language and when used with it’s just-in-time compiler, it is regarded as one of the fastest scripting languages.
Lua has a C API that allows you to run C code in a Lua program and run Lua code in a C program. This provides many benefits for both C and Lua developers.
Lua is used to develop Games, Game Engines, Embedded Systems, Desktop applications, Databases, web programming, etc. Although Lua is used in web development, it is not well suited for web development projects, the lack of well-established Lua-based web frameworks makes it quite hard to quickly make web applications.
Lua-based Web frameworks such as Lapis and Orbit are used for web development but they are not popular, there are not many resources to work with and the Lua web community is very small.
All in all, there are quite a number of popular websites and companies using Lua, some of them include Redis, Github, Adobe, CISCO, Nginx, Neovim, Wireshark, and many others. Lua (through Scribunto extension) is used as a server-side scripting language in the MediaWiki software that powers Wikipedia and other wikis.
Since Lua is not very popular for web development, you can use other alternatives for programming the server-side logic of your web applications. Learning Lua for web development is not necessary, it is completely optional.
WHAT ARE ALTERNATIVES TO LUA FOR WEB DEVELOPMENT?
There are many server-side programming languages that you can use as an alternative to Lua. Here are some of the popular ones:
PHP is the most popular server-side programming language, it powers more websites on the internet than the rest of the server-side programming languages put together.
According to statistics from w3techs.com, “PHP is used by 77.5% of all the websites whose server-side programming language we know.” PHP website usage has been decreasing over the years, but it will take more than 25 years to decrease to 50% at the rate at which it is decreasing.
To make your development process easy, quick, and well structured, you can use PHP frameworks such as Laravel, Symfony, CodeIgniter, Slim, Zend, Phalcon, CakePHP, and many others.
PHP is used by many popular platforms and websites such as WordPress, Drupal, Wikipedia, Facebook, Slack, Etsy, Tumblr, MailChimp, etc. PHP is simple to work with and it is a great alternative to Lua.
Python has an easy-to-understand syntax that makes it easy to write code. Getting started with Python is very easy. Python is used a lot by web developers for backend development. According to a 2021 Stack Overflow survey, Python is the third most used programming language by professional developers.
Python Django is one of the most popular web development frameworks, it was used to build part of the Instagram backend. Other python web frameworks that can be used in place of the Lua include Flask, FastAPI, CherryPy, Falcon, etc.
Go is an open-source programming language supported by Google, Go is used in web development to power fast and scalable web applications. It is a good alternative to Lua. Some of the companies using Go are shown in the image below
You can also use Java as an alternative to Lua for server-side programming. Java is used by many websites, especially in the enterprise world. You can learn more about how Java is used in Web Development in our article DO YOU NEED JAVA FOR WEB DEVELOPMENT.
Since its invention in 1995 by Yukihiro “Matz” Matsumoto of Japan, Ruby has grown in popularity and usage to become the third most widely used server-side programming language after PHP and ASP.NET.
According to statistics from w3techs.com, “Ruby is used by 5.9% of all the websites whose server-side programming language we know.” Ruby usage for making websites has been decreasing over the years, but it is still one of the popular choices for many companies and startups.
Ruby is similar to Lua, its syntax is simple, elegant, and English-like, similar to that of Python. Getting started with Ruby and Ruby on Rails for web development is very easy and you will serve a lot of development time by using this language and its framework.
The popular online E-commerce store builder Shopify was written in Ruby (Ruby on Rails). Other popular websites using Ruby include Twitter, Github, Basecamp, Airbnb, Dribbble, Hulu, Kickstarter, Zendesk, Fiverr, SoundCloud, and many others.
There are many other alternatives to Lua that I have not listed here. The availability and usage of many other powerful server-side programming languages and frameworks show that you can work on web development projects without using Lua.
It can be seen that even though Lua is used in web development, learning Lua for web development is not necessary, you will be better off using other server-side programming languages. Less than 0.1% of all websites use Lua, leaving a huge room for other server-side programming languages such as Python, C#, Ruby, Go, Scala, PHP, Java, etc.
If you want to make a website but you do not want to write any server-side or frontend code, you can use Website builders like WordPress, Shopify, Bubble, Wix, Squarespace, etc. to do all the heavy lifting for you. You can make powerful websites without writing any line of code.