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:
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.