Tech Pros Name Programming Languages They Use at Work

Many entities track the popularity of programming languages, but their sources of data are sometimes a bit obscure. A new survey of tech pros in the enterprise space gives us a better idea of who is using which language.

Cloud Foundry queried ‘IT Decision Makers’ (or ITDMs) on which languages were in use at their companies. It allowed for more than one language to be listed by those tech pros, and then weighed the responses as a percentage. It says over 25 languages were mentioned, but over half “are used so infrequently as to receive a single-digit percentage.”

As you can see in the chart below, Java is king. More tech pros report using Java than any other language. Another popular option: JavaScript, which made the largest percentage gain (three percent) in the 5-6 months between Cloud Foundry’s surveys. C++ also shows improved use.

But some popular languages fell short, too. Python reported the largest percentage dip on the list, with a full five percent drop. Perl also took a notable slide, dropping four percent.

Some languages held strong. PHP is still hanging on at 22 percent, while Swift holds its six-percent stake. Typescript is reportedly in use by five percent of respondents, and Haskell has two percent using it.

Compared to the hard data of TIOBE’s monthly rankings, Cloud Foundry’s survey has some familiar echoes. Both have Java in a comfortable lead, and show technologies such as PHP are hanging on. TIOBE lists JavaScript lower in its top ten, with C in second place with a commanding and comfortable lead over third-place Python.

The TIOBE list is also subject to whims or technical debt. Objective-C, which is being replaced by Swift, popped back up into TIOBE’s top ten from the 18th spot in a YoY matchup. But according to Cloud Foundry, Objective-C is actually dipping in popularity. This juxtaposition shows that, while a language may be unpopular or falling out of favor at a set of companies, there are still times developers need to edit legacy code.

As Cloud Foundry says, some programming favorites are widely used at large companies, but the fervor could die down:

In general, the larger the company, the more languages used. Therefore, we see above average usage of Python and C# among very large enterprises compared with the rest of respondents, as these companies are using multiple languages. This current embrace of multiple languages is something of a new phenomenon as, historically, larger companies have practiced tighter control over processes, particularly in production.

A core takeaway: Even with some variation in popularity, and discrepancy between studies, no programming language seems on the verge of collapse or sudden change. Less popular languages are still unloved, and the heavy hitters still lead the pack. We can’t even point to an upstart language to keep your eye on, making it far easier to see that trend-lines will be predictable for some time to come.

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