Top Programming Languages Losing Market Share?


Although top programming languages such as Java, C, Python and PHP remain widely used, their collective market-share has fallen in recent years, according to the latest TIOBE Index.

“The set of languages to choose from is getting bigger and more and more less well-known programming languages are being adopted,” read the note accompanying this month’s Index. “About 10 years ago, the first 8 languages covered 80 percent of the market, now this is reduced to 55 percent.”

For the record, those eight languages are (in descending order) Java, C, C++, Python, C#, PHP, JavaScript, and Perl.

TIOBE relies on search-engine data to calculate its ratings, in contrast to other indexes that depend on datasets from GitHub and other repositories. Languages in its top quadrant have a tendency to stay in place; Java, C, and C++, for example, have remained in the first three slots (respectively) since at least June 2015.

But further down TIOBE’s list, new and obscure languages are making headway. Swift, Apple’s next-generation language for building iOS and Mac OS X apps, is busy cannibalizing market-share for its predecessor, Objective-C. Ruby, D, and Assembly Language have also enjoyed significant gains over the past 12 months.

Even if these smaller languages are seizing more market-share, however, the languages at the top of the list remain virtually ubiquitous, and it seems unlikely that any will tumble into obscurity anytime soon. If you’re still learning Java, for example, rest assured it will continue to power many platforms for quite some time to come.

3 Responses to “Top Programming Languages Losing Market Share?”

  1. Rob Spahitz

    Determining the most popular languages by looking at GitHub is like determining the most popular cars by looking at what’s in the streets of Detroit.
    There are probably hundreds of other languages that rarely get into git-hub, which is skewed toward c-like and open-source languages.
    I’d argue that 10 years ago, VB.Net was much bigger than C# (which was ramping up but not there yet.) Also, VBA (the “macro” language of MS Office) is probably bigger than any listed with the possible exception of Java (and even that I’m not sure). The difference is that there are probably few programmers using VBA who have even heard of GitHub so why would they put anything there?
    Maybe a better bet is to look at code-related posts on Google and combine that with various repositories of code.

    • Hi Rob Spahitz, your thoughts and points mentioned above are credible and I concur.

      That being said, I hope the author Nick Kolakowski has taken into account some accurate information from real sources to come to conclusion that ‘the first 8 languages covered 80 percent of the market, now this is reduced to 55 percent’.

      Evolution of any programming language and its adoption is a fickle thing. Remember that any language can do things that we would like it to do. All it takes is focus, patience, effort and time – all of which is hard to come by. Time to build various libraries and time to build the developer community around its ecosystem.

      For example, when the crypto-currencies and its backbone the blockchain APIs were introduced to the world, developers across the globe went on overdrive to add a variety of exotic library functions for almost all the popular languages that you can think of. If a less known computer programming language does not have the people interested in developing the related functionality, then sooner or later, such languages will be used for specific purposes only and may not have or generate enough interest to use it for a variety of purposes.

      From the perspective of employment, learning a less known language is like gambling. You may get a lucrative job or may end up wasting time learning something that has no potential. However, it is always better to know a few popular languages (depth of knowledge always matters) to keep themselves employed and learn and experiment with the less known language till something useful is produced out of it by their effort in that less known language.

      Eventually, maybe a few more with the same interest and passion may contribute and end up develop something larger than the original intent of the creators of the language.

      That is the reason why the author of this article Nick talks about GITHUB or other code repositories. For something to mature and be useful to solve a real problem, a small and simple solution may or may not work in today’s complex world. Hence it is a good (but not the only) measure to see how many projects are being developed using a particular language on several code repositories. Of course it will only tell something but not everything.