What’s the most popular programming language?

What’s the most popular programming language?

The eternal controversy. Does it really matter? Well, it depends. For a company like Optimyth Software, it does matter. Why? because we measure and analyze software, and software is built with code. We have to be up-to-date with the technologies and languages developers around the world use. If we want them to measure and track the quality of the software they develop, we have to support the languages they use. So, we do look into this to plan the evolution of our products.

Now, why is this matter controversial? Because nobody seems to agree. Depending on the source you find Python as the leading language or C or JavaScript or C++ or PHP. And not only the results are controversial, the sources as well. Most studies are based on open source and public projects —where information is readily available—, or on the tags used in the most popular developers discussion forums or on specific web searches. All very turn of the 21st century sources, which may leave out of the rankings languages like Cobol that, I hope we all agree here, is used by hundreds of thousands of still running legacy applications in the world.

Besides this little caveat about legacy languages, most rankings tend to agree to include the following languages in the top 10 in different order, of course: Java, C, C++, JavaScript, PHP, Python, C# and Ruby.With Objective-C moving up fast due to de pervasiveness of mobile apps for the iOS platform.

Let me share with you some of the sources we use here at Optimyth Software. Observe that none of these sources try to be scientific nor are about the best programming language nor the language in which most lines of code have been written:

TIOBE Programming Community index: This index is updated once a month. The ratings are based on the number of skilled engineers world-wide, courses and third party vendors. The popular search engines Google, Bing, Yahoo!, Wikipedia, Amazon, YouTube and Baidu are used to calculate the ratings. Interesting to see, the comparison table of the top 10 languages and where were they 5, 15 and 25 years ago.

The RedMonk Programming Language Rankings: This ranking is, more or less, updated, quarterly. It is based on the code in the GitHub public repositories and in the tags used in the Stack Overflow questions. Cobol does not appear in this ranking at all!

Programming Language Popularity, LangPop.com: This is an interesting one. It actually calculates two rankings, one for the languages usage based basically on counts of pages mentioning the languages, craiglist job offerings, books sold about the specific languages, open source projects at Freshmeat and Ohloh, and projects at google code. The second ranking is for languages people are talking about and is based on discussions found at reddit, Lambda the Ultimate, Slashdot and IRC. For both, you have a normalized ranking you can play with changing the weight of the different source.

And just for fun, and because it is visually appealing, check the CodeEval infographic with their ranking based on developer code submissions to their site —basically by unemployed programmers—.

Draw your own conclusions and share them with us.

Thanks for reading!

Javier Salado

Meet the author Javier Salado

Marketing and content manager at Optimyth Software and editor of this blog. With 20+ years experience in IT, he has done everything you can do in the software industry: developer, designer, architect, project manager, pre-sales and product marketing. One-man band for corporations and start-ups.

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