TIOBE, which tracks how much (and often) programming languages are used day-to-day, says the top eight programming languages are basically set in stone. But the last two spots on the top-ten list are wide open.
In its October index, TIOBE’s data tells us the cement is starting to harden when it comes to programming language use. “If we compare the current TIOBE Index top eight of today with the one of 2014 (five years ago) and 2004 (15 years ago), there is only one different programming language,” it notes. Java and C, the top two languages, are the only two which have seen zero change year-over-year.
Others on the list jockey up and down a spot or two. Year-over-year, languages in the top eight have only moved one position; number nine on the list, PHP, only slipped two spots. The language formerly in the tenth spot, Swift, also dipped two positions to number 12.
PHP is seeing declining usage, and its charting suggests this is not an anomaly. After reaching its peak in 2004, the language’s use has slowly eroded. It spikes occasionally, but it’s never fully bounced back.
Objective-C, on the other hand, was at its highest point in October of 2014 – just months after Swift, its successor, was introduced. It nosedived until January 2016, then waffled up and down, flirting with the top ten. Swift was once believed to have fully usurped its predecessor, but Objective-C is sticking around, possibly thanks to the need to maintain a legacy codebase.
TIOBE tracks use, but it doesn’t offer definitive insight on why some languages randomly pop back into the picture. Year-over-year, Objective-C went from 15th to 10th on the Index, but we don’t know if that’s because developers are poking around their existing, Objective-C apps to decipher if engaging with Swift is worthwhile, or if Objective-C is just extra-sticky.
It’s also worth noting the top handful of languages comprising the top four or five spots command a lion’s share of total tracked use. One we start getting into Objective-C territory, those languages make up 1.5 percent or less of TIOBE’s total tracked language use.
Swift may bounce back to claim its place as Objective-C’s dominator, but Groovy also rocketed up to the 11th spot. Go, TIOBE’s 2016 ‘language of the year,’ slipped from 12th place to 17th year-over-year. Go and Swift were once thought of as the languages to round out the top ten, but it may very well end up a Groovy-Swift tandem. Hey, why not?