TIOBE Suggests Scripting Languages are Fading

November’s update of the TIOBE Index makes a startling assertion: scripting languages (which include Perl and JavaScript) are fading in popularity.

TIOBE bases its rankings on data from a variety of aggregators and search engines, including Google, Wikipedia, YouTube, and Amazon. In order for a language to rank, it must be Turing complete, have its own Wikipedia entry, and earn more than 5,000 hits for +”<language> programming” on Google.

Although scripting languages are enormously popular (Python, for example, places fourth on November’s list), TIOBE believes that scripting languages are too prone to errors that only show up during run-time, making them a bit too problematic for high-pressure development environments where failure is not an option.

“Since quality demands are getting higher and higher, hardly anybody dares to write a critical and large software system in a scripting language nowadays,” read TIOBE’s note accompanying the data. “Even a scripting language such as JavaScript that is inevitable while doing web programming was forced to evolve to a safer language.”

But none of the most popular scripting languages have imploded over the past year, rankings-wise; indeed, JavaScript and Python have both crept up a spot in TIOBE’s rankings during that period. Nonetheless, the analysts at TIOBE seem to think that scripting languages as a category will need to evolve in order to head off an inevitable decline, citing JavaScript as an example: “Microsoft introduced a typed version of JavaScript called TypeScript and all kinds of frameworks such as Angular and React were developed to safeguard the language (and also add extra functionality).”

TIOBE’s analysis aside, it seems unlikely that scripting languages as a category are going anywhere: many are easy to learn, even for neophyte programmers, and feature a layer of abstraction that hides many of the thornier aspects of development. And as long as end-users continue to use these languages to construct a wide variety of apps, they’re unlikely to fade away—errors or no.

6 Responses to “TIOBE Suggests Scripting Languages are Fading”

  1. I highly doubt that Javascript is fading away. It is used in too many pages and no doubt web developers will still be using it for years to come. Perhaps replaced with the latest and greatest when there’s a rewrite. There are so many choices. As a web developer, my head spins when trying to decide what new languages to learn so I can remain marketable.

  2. Jim MacKenzie

    So, scripting languages are fading, but

    “Pyrhon, for example, places fourth on November’s list”, “JavaScript and Python have both crept up a spot in TIOBE’s rankings during that period” and “they’re unlikely to fade away”

    Click-bait much?

  3. Adam Shechter

    I’m a front end developer and have learned TypeScript and Angular in the last year. I believe a lot of the of the shortcomings of scripting languages are being addressed. It is strictly typed with TypeScript, and Angular compiles ahead of time. It also comes with a robust testing system built in.

  4. Todd Mondragon

    Your article predicates that scripting languages are on the decline because nobody is writing critical, large systems applications in them and that their hit ratios on Google are falling.
    First off, nobody should be writing large critical software packages in a scripting language, that is the wrong tool for the job to begin with. Yes, perhaps a quick POC of a design but for production use it gets translated to Java for app server runs or C++ for a compiles package with maybe some scripty bits bolted on where they make sense.However, in the ops/admin space scripting languages are never, and say that with all confidence, so much so that I will repeat it, never going to go away or become irrelevant. They are in fact a requirement and the knowledge of a specific scripting language is a make or break for hiring purposes in most positions. The modern ops contractor or employee must know at least 2 shells, perl and python or ruby in order to even get their foot into the door these days. that will not change any time soon, only the scripting language list may update as new adoptions are made in the coming years.
    You cited Golang as one of those on the bottom, though you also stated that there wasn’t enough data to make a conclusion, given that Golang is making in roads into Jenkins and Kubernetes and has been pooping up on the jobs requirements for recent postings shows that it is indeed an up and comer.
    Basically your methodology is wrong, if you want to know what is used and in demand don’t use Google use the job boards and see what is being demanded of us in order to gain employment and contract work.
    Scripting is here to stay in the ops world, it is how we do our jobs.

    • Fred Wehrhahn

      @Todd: You nailed it sir. I’m also an infrastructure support techie and in that world the agility of scripting languages is vital to providing efficient support. My educated guess on the best scripting languages to have in your arsenal would be: Bash, Perl, Python and Ruby to qualify for the most operations-oriented jobs.

  5. Kirby Wallace

    “Even a scripting language such as JavaScript that is inevitable while doing web programming was forced to evolve to a safer language”…

    By which, presumably, they mean TypeScript. But TS is not an independent web language. it is a superset of….. Yep…. JavaScript.