Groovy Enjoying the Grooviest Rise Among Programming Languages

Groovy (the programming language) is getting groovier, according to the February update of the TIOBE Index, which ranks the world’s most popular programming languages.

Over the past year, Groovy has leapt from 49th to 19th place, a pretty stunning rise. “In general, more and more glue software is written in Groovy,” reads the note accompanying that February ranking update. Tools such as Jenkins (an open-source automation server written in Java, designed to automate big chunks of the software-development process) and Gradle (another automation tool) leverage Groovy for scripting.

To craft its monthly rankings, TIOBE incorporates data from a variety of aggregators and search engines, including Google, Wikipedia, YouTube, and Amazon. 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.

The languages in the upper echelons of TIOBE’s rankings never budge much from month to month; Java seems to remain perpetually in first place, followed sequentially by C, Python, and C++. But further down in the rankings, there’s often quite a bit of movement year-over-year, as adoption by one or two companies—which can drive developers to start Googling the language as fast as possible—is all a smaller language needs to jump up several slots.

And not all languages leap up or down in predictable ways. For example, Apple has pushed its Swift language as a replacement for Objective-C, which is 35 years old and showing its age. However, Objective-C has jumped several slots on TIOBE’s list over the past 12 months, from 20th to 10th place, while Swift has fallen from 16th to 20th place. Is that an accurate reflection of the respective popularity of these two languages, or does TIOBE’s methodology not reflect reality?

Because TIOBE largely bases its rankings on search-engine data, it’s very much at the mercy of any changes in Google’s search algorithms, as well as “buzzy” events (news stories, new product releases) that compel people to rush to their computers to search for information. Keep that in mind when you read the list: As a signifier of broad trends (and up-and-coming languages), TIOBE is well worth reviewing every month… but it’s just one (of many) language-popularity lists out there.

In the meantime, Groovy remains, well, pretty groovy.