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How popular is a programming language?

If in doubt, go for Python :-)

Tuesday 18 September 2018, by Stéphane Téletchéa

There are many ways to compare the "popularity" of programming languages used nowadays. It can be monitored from the demands of companies nearby you, from the relationships you may have access to (aka "the developpers"), or even by following the guidance of university teachers.

Since this is a complex problem, there is no easy answer to this question. For a rapid comparison, you can for instance use google trends to compare PHP and Python queries over time.

This google search bounds your analysis to google queries. Albeit being popular, they only capture part of the problem... How to get better data then?

The TIOBE index

To compare programming data, why not asking a company dedicated to providing development solutions for hackers?

There comes the TIOBE index :

From this index, Java, C, and python are the TOP 3 programming languages in september 2018. Python usage is rapidly and steadily increasing, as was also remarked on Stack Overflow last year.

Two different sources, same conclusion, Python usage is growing. What if there was some bias from those sources?

PYPL - PopularitY of Programming Language

If you need another way of getting the trends, PYPL analyses differently the data found. I’m not to comment on this approach, but you can find the details in their FAQ and explanations why their results are slightly different than others.

In their rankings, Python comes first, followed by Java (decreasing) and JavaScript (increasing). In short, the ranking is different, but Python is again important.

In conclusion

This rapid post is there to keep a track of reference sources where you can find the information on programming languages trends.

As of september 2018, high-level languages are still getting more and more popular as Java+Python+PHP represent more than 50 % of the total languages referenced (PYPL) or 25% of engineer languages (TIOBE). Surprisingly, they are just followed by very-old-but-thought-to-be-obsolete C/C++ (6 % for PYPL, 22% for TIOBE).

If you understand the programming paradigms pertaining to this small list of languages + some practical expertise on some of them, it seems you are ready for the future, i.e. the next 5 years in the computationnal world.

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