Last month, we boldly proclaimed that a handful of programming languages are almost certainly doomed in the medium- to long-term, based on data from firms such as RedMonk and TIOBE. That article generated quite a bit of chatter, so we decided to double down and create an even bolder sequel: programming languages that are poised to increase in usage over the next several years.
As with our “doomed” languages, we’re relying on larger data trends in order to make our predictions. Some of our picks will seem obvious—and others, not so much.
Apple wants to kill Objective-C, the 35-year-old programming language used to build apps for the Apple ecosystem, and replace it with Swift, the language it unveiled five years ago. According to analyst firm RedMonk’s long-term language rankings, it seems that the company is well on its way to accomplishing those goals, with Swift rising rapidly in usage since its creation.
That being said, Objective-C is hanging on, no doubt thanks to the enormous amount of legacy code generated over the past three decades. But with Apple continuing to stomp on it, it’ll go away eventually, and Swift will power Apple’s apps from that point forward. Apple’s big plans for cross-platform apps may only accelerate this programming-language evolution.
Kotlin is on the rise. How could it not be? A decade ago, the only “Kotlin” was the Russian island; now there’s the programming language, which owes a good deal of its prominence to Google, which named it a first-class development language for Android.
You could argue that Google, by choosing Kotlin, lessens its dependence on Java, which was the subject of an enormous legal dispute with Oracle. Whether or not Google’s lawyers are driving the company’s enthusiastic embrace of Kotlin, it’s clear that a lot of developers also like the language because of its features and flexibility.
Back in 2018, Pusher launched a developer survey and found that Kotlin usage was growing “astronomically,” thanks in large part to Android. “A large portion of developers program in Kotlin in both their work and side projects,” Pusher added in a note accompanying the data. “When it comes to favorite features, most like to play it safe, with null safety being adored by over 80 percent of developers, followed by extension functions, streamlined interoperability with Java, and data classes.”
In other words, it seems like Kotlin’s going nowhere soon. The big question is how much this programming language can expand beyond the Android ecosystem to conquer new areas.
Yes, Python is a huge language, embraced by developers around the world for a variety of uses. But according to the TIOBE Index (updated monthly), Python is only continuing to climb in popularity—sometimes at the expense of other languages. Indeed, developers and tech professionals seem to constantly find new uses for Python, including data analytics and machine learning.
Given Python’s already-enormous user base, and its deep embedding in a wide plethora of businesses, it seems extremely unlikely that Python is going to fade away anytime soon. The only question is how much this programming language can continue to grow, and which industries it will seize next.
Groovy’s enjoyed a groovy rise up the TIOBE rankings, bolstered by broad IDE support, its similarity to Java, and its integration with Jenkins, the popular open-source automation server. It’s become the “programming language glue” in enough systems that its future seems bright.