Remember all that talk about the imminent death of C++ in the mid-2000s? Morbid headlines like: C++ IS DEAD!!! and Java Sounds the Death Knell for C++? Adding to the angst were statistics that showed the popularity of C++ falling on the Tiobe Programming Community Index while Java climbed into the No. 1 spot.
Well, C++ and developers who use it are still very much alive, thank you. Yes, the language’s popularity remains below its 1997 peak, but it’s still among the top 5 languages on the Tiobe index, even ahead of C#.
And its outlook remains healthy. “C++ is definitely not dead, because of games and what’s needed for gaming platforms,” says David Theriault, a recruiter with Robert Half Technology in San Francisco. “C++ will never be the coolest language, but it will always be stable.”
Tiobe Software CEO Paul Jansen says the popularity of C++ has stabilized over the past year and he doesn’t expect it to dip any further.
One major factor in a resurgence in C++ developer demand is Microsoft, says Jansen. While it relied on C++ as its major language for Visual Studio for some time, in the mid-2000s, it began promoting C#. “Now, Microsoft is saying C++ will once again be one of its major languages,” Jansen says. “They found in large projects, C# doesn’t run programs as fast as C++. And when you get a large company behind a language, that helps increase demand for that language.”
The popularity of console games are also driving the need for C++ developers, who have great depth in analytics, algorithms, computation and object oriented technology, says Theriault.
In addition to the game industry, tech titans Facebook and Intel have a strong need for C++ developers, he adds. Facebook, for example, is moving toward C++ and away from PHP, because it computes complex data at a faster clip.
But there’s a twist to the demand: Theriault receives only a few requests a year for C++ – only developers, but the need is much greater for experienced C++ expertise combined with knowledge of Java or another language.
Though Tiobe says Java has been among the most popular languages over the past few years, it appears to be slipping. “The Java brand isn’t new and hasn’t evolved,” Jansen says. “When Oracle acquired Sun, people thought that would change. But it hasn’t evolved and now Java is behind.”
That said, Android’s popularity is likely to push Java, not only because so many apps are based on it, but because Android itself is Java-based. Says Jansen: “I wouldn’t be surprised to see Java go to No. 1 again in the future.”
Image: C++ [Bigstock]