Which programming languages are most popular among employers?
Every year, IEEE Spectrum tries to answer that thorny question by crunching data from a number of sources and producing a handy list. Those sources include Google Search, Twitter, GitHub, Stack Overflow, Reddit, Hacker News, and Dice:
Java places first on this list of languages big among employers. This is unsurprising, considering how many businesses (and independent developers) rely on the language as a stolid workhorse. While other languages surpass Java in terms of metrics like speed, few have managed to eclipse its ubiquity.
For example, Swift places tenth on IEEE’s list, notably ahead of its predecessor, Objective-C (which sits in nineteenth place). Go, which drew a lot of attention as TIOBE’s programming language of 2016, is in eighteenth. Kotlin (now an official Android language) failed to make the list despite a recent swell of laudatory press in venues such as Wired. R places quite high, meanwhile, despite a reputation for very specialized use.
A big part of this is reach. Java, for example, is a language equally suited for the Web, mobile development, and enterprise use; C is found throughout the mobile and enterprise, as well as embedded systems. Contrast that with languages further down the list, which might prove useful only in a limited context—enterprise-level data analysis, for example, or mobile—and you can see why those at the very top have dominated for years.
As Swift demonstrates, it’s possible for a language to accelerate rapidly into the upper echelons, thanks to factors such as corporate backing, effective support, and the open-source community. As more and more businesses embrace the platform, a feedback loop of sorts is created; it’s very hard for a language that’s climbed far to fall fast.
In the here and now, though, developers need to stay locked on those languages clearly in demand. This IEEE list is a good data-point in that quest, but shouldn’t serve as the only one. (In addition, IEEE provides annual language rankings for open-source hubs and growth, if you’re interested in those things.)