October’s edition of the TIOBE Index, which ranks programming languages on popularity, won’t surprise any tech professional who works regularly with code. Java, C, C++, C#, and Python remain the Index’s top languages; the big changes occur further down the list, where lesser-used languages either fight a losing battle to stay relevant or rapidly grow in usage.
The note accompanying TIOBE’s latest update cites two of those languages in particular. “There are only 2 languages with an increase of more than 1% if compared to the same period last year, i.e. Go and Groovy,” it read. “Google’s Go language seems to be unrivalled, probably boosted by the immense popularity of Docker, the container application that is written in Go.”
In addition to Go and Groovy, three other languages have enjoyed significant gains over the past year: Swift, Objective-C, and R. Swift has hopped three ranks on TIOBE’s list, from fifteenth to twelfth, while Objective-C went just a tad higher, moving four ranks from tenth to fourteenth. There is some irony in this: Apple has pushed newish Swift, a language for designing iOS and macOS apps, as the replacement for Objective-C, which is over thirty years old. That Objective-C maintains a strong ranking despite that pressure from Apple (and regular updates to Swift, including open-sourcing) is impressive, and speaks to the language’s hold on developers.
The programming language R, used mostly or statistical computing and graphics, has made its progress in the rankings in large part due to its usage in analytics and Big Data workflows.
TIOBE’s results somewhat mirror those of GitHub. While TIOBE calculates its ratings with search-engine data from Google, Bing, Wikipedia and other platforms, GitHub relies on pull requests to its repositories. Go, Objective-C, and Swift all saw a marked increase in the number of those requests over the past year, although Groovy and R failed to make the top 15.
Whatever their respective rankings on various lists, one thing is clear: Go, Groovy, Swift, Objective-C, and R continue to dominate developer attention.