TIOBE: Java, C Losing Favor Among Developers

IDE Developer
Java and C are fading, says TIOBE.

TIOBE has updated its monthly ranking of the world’s most popular programming languages; and if you take a casual glance, not much has changed. But closer inspection tells us that these rankings are ready for massive upheaval.

The top five hasn’t changed from last month, or even last year. Java still reigns supreme, followed by C, C++ and C#. Python rounds out the list. Spots six through 10 also haven’t changed much, though it’s interesting to see that Ruby has risen two spots, considering other entities are ready to call it a dead language. Upstart Swift is in the 11th spot, while Go has surged to number 16.

Looks pretty ho-hum, right? TIOBE says that, while there hasn’t been a ton of movement (the top five literally haven’t changed year-over-year), things are getting tenuous. Java and C have all-time low scores. Although still in command, the two languages have seen their metrics steadily decline for almost a year:

TIOBE Language Chart August 2017

The mindshare is going to new languages. Kotlin is coming on strong after being blessed by Google, and Ruby-alternative Crystal is finding favor with its fast compile time and low memory footprint (it has jumped to #32 from #60 in one month). Others like Swift, Go, R and Visual Basic .NET continue their slow ascent to the top.

TIOBE told a similar story this past May, but couldn’t provide context for why Java and C were in decline; it only offered that “all languages” were benefiting from the trend.

Now there’s clarity. A look at the historical graph from TIOBE shows Java and C have a colorful history of trading the top spot, and tend to follow similar trajectories. Both have bounced back from dips in popularity. But this new, precipitous cliff is uncharted territory, and will see them compete more directly with a very tightly bunched top-ten. Just when those upstart languages will start making a showing on the short list is anyone’s guess.

2 Responses to “TIOBE: Java, C Losing Favor Among Developers”

  1. John Algeo

    Java and C have had significant (huge?) losses, but the other languages don’t show increases. Either less programming is being done or there has been a shift to some other language that most programmers don’t want to admit the existence of. Just a thought.


  2. It is interesting that C is used more than C++. I would think C would be rare, since you can’t do OO with it without resorting to a lot of ugly code. Maybe it was being used to do a lot of small-scale stuff where OO is less important?

    Also interesting that the top 3 are going down, without a matching increase from the rest. Most of the other languages are either flat or declining, and the few that are increasing are not doing so dramatically enough that it would add up to what Java and C are losing. Not even close.

    Perhaps less programming is being done in general. Maybe so much work has been done on frameworks that duplication of effort, which always accounts for some programming, is also declining. Maybe enough “low-hanging fruit” problems have been solved that programmers are just cobbling together existing work, which they don’t have to write themselves.