5 Programming Languages Not Quite Dead Yet


In October 2014, Dice published a list of 5 programming languages marked for death. “Older languages can go one of two ways,” author and developer Jeff Cogswell wrote at the time. “Stay in use, despite fading popularity, or die out completely.” He predicted that five languages would soon disappear: Perl, Ruby, Visual Basic.NET, Adobe Flash and AIR, and Delphi’s Object Pascal.

(And yes, Adobe Flash and AIR are technically platforms, rather than languages; but their tight integration with the Web-development cycle, coupled with Flash’s well-publicized issues over the past several years, arguably rendered them valid for inclusion.)

In programming terms, 2014 was a lifetime ago, which means its time to update this list. Which programming languages continue to tumble in popularity? Which have managed to survive despite our earlier predictions?


We may have been wrong about Perl.

This high-level, general-purpose language was first developed in the late 1980s as a supple tool for Unix scripting, then exploded in popularity over the next decade. Referred to as the “Swiss Army chainsaw of scripting languages” for its adaptability and strength (and perhaps for its rough edges), Perl ended up used in everything from network programming to CGI scripting.

But a funny thing happened on the way to bigger market-share: development stalled. At the Perl Conference in the summer of 2000, computer programmer (and Perl creator) Larry Wall announced that work on Perl 6 was underway. There was, however, a catch: rather than serving as an organic successor to Perl 5—one that would clean up most of that version’s bigger issues—this next iteration was positioned as something new, a fundamental breakaway.

Nearly sixteen years later, Perl 6 is still under development, while Perl 5 continues to evolve (it’s currently up to version 5.22.1). Granted, the language isn’t as widely used as it was a decade ago, and you can debate whether the blame for that fact rests with that original decision to split off Perl 6, or if developers got tired of wrestling with some of Perl’s more inelegant aspects. But according to the latest TIOBE rankings, Perl is actually on the rise, having jumped four slots between February 2015 and 2016.

You can’t stop the chainsaw.

Next Up: Objective-C and Ruby (click here or below)

4 Responses to “5 Programming Languages Not Quite Dead Yet”

  1. I dont know what programming language – as no one I’ve asked knows either – which language uses chineese symbols in the language and the symbols transform into english symbols not just a caricature

  2. Mario Ray Mahardhika

    Been hearing (Object) Pascal is dead since a few years after I really get myself in it, that was around 2006-2007. 9-10 years later, I still hear it everywhere, but none of predictions really happen. Delphi might be in the cliff corner, but Free Pascal’s driven Object Pascal is going strong. Despite its (intentionally) slow release, development never ceased. Features are added more and more, optimizations are getting better, compile speed is still blazingly fast (I cry tears of joy when someone says Go compilation time is so fast, he must never have touched any Pascal compiler), libraries are growing, both default and 3rd party. Tell me which development tools ship with full google API wrappers by default?

  3. While I am not some kind of great programmer, Perl seems to be a language that could be termed spatial. Most programming used to be linear and Perl scared the hell out of RPG, COBOL etc., programmers. However, when it comes to web servers it used to rule the roost, but then someone thought that putting server side code (PHP) into the public_html area was cool (so they could crack sites easier? Me wonders).

    I still use Perl just because if you do it right it’s very fast and once someone finds their niche in the code they, probably like me, stick with it. Must admit though it has grown into a kind of monster sometimes with too much dependance on modules (fine if you use the whole module, but not if you only use a tiny bit of one).

    I wrote my blog engine in Perl because I knew and wanted something a lot smaller (to do the same stuff), than WP. It may not be perfect (is there such a thing in any programming), but it’s base install is under 150 K and serves out the stuff fine.

    With people beginning to switch to Flat CMS instead of SQL, Perl has the pedigree to handle that and handle it well. Especially for blogs – Perl began to serve out reports and essentially that’s all a blog is.

    But will people use it?