The latest edition of the TIOBE index, which lists the world’s most popular programming languages, features few surprises in its top ranks, where Java, C, C++, Python, and PHP continue to dominate.
Further down in the TIOBE rankings is where the real action happens, and programming languages can rise or fall several spots in the course of a year. When fewer people use a particular language, it doesn’t take much adoption for it to jump several ranks; conversely, if a handful of tech companies stop using that language to build their products, it will inevitably tumble.
With that in mind, here are the programming languages that saw some notable gains in their respective TIOBE rankings over the past year. If you’re a programmer looking for a new challenge, or an alternate way of getting your work done, they might be worth your consideration.
According to the TIOBE index, Ruby leapt from 18th place in March 2015 to 10th today. This general-purpose language, influenced by Perl, remains popular among developers, although some major platforms have stopped using it as a development tool (Twitter, arguably the most famous example, switched to Java a few years ago).
It’s no surprise that Swift has leapt from 23rd to 14th in TIOBE’s rankings. For one thing, it’s actively pushed by Apple, which is also trying to kill the language’s predecessor, Objective C. For another, Swift offers modernized tools for programming iOS and Mac OS X apps, which is surely attractive to the masses of developers who work with those platforms.
Like Ruby and Swift, Assembly Language also enjoyed rapid progression on TIOBE’s list over the past twelve months, jumping from 28th to 12th place. Assembly language is a very low-level language for niche platforms such as bootloaders, embedded devices, and device drivers.
Many computer-science programs cover assembly language in their coursework, even if a majority of programmers and developers never actually end up using it in their day jobs, because it deals with some very fundamental CS concepts.
R didn’t enjoy quite as much movement as some of the other big gainers on TIOBE’s list, hopping from 20th place to 16th in the past year. Nonetheless, it remains a language to watch. Developer David Bolton recently wrote an extensive breakdown for Dice on why programmers should learn R.
Groovy jumped from 36th place in March 2015 to 17th a year later. An object-oriented programming language for Java, Groovy is similar in many ways to Python or Perl; it’s used for a variety of Web applications.