5 Programming Languages That Could Grow Big by 2030

Which smaller programming languages are poised to explode in usage and popularity over the next decade? That’s a key question for software developers and engineers to ask, because it could determine which languages they choose to master now.

To offer an educated guess, we drew from a number of data sources, including the latest SlashData’s State of the Developer Nation (which estimates the size of programming-language communities) and RedMonk’s breakdown of programming languages over time. Of course, any kind of prediction is as much an art as a science; the technology industry evolves at such speed that it’s difficult to say with certainty what will happen over the next several years (that won’t stop us from guessing, though).

It’s also helpful to remember that nobody’s going to rewrite much of the code underlying the current ecosystem of apps and services; maintaining that legacy code will keep some of the world’s most-used programming languages (such as JavaScript and Python) in their top spots for many years to come, even as the following languages seize a larger share of technologists’ time and attention.

Kotlin

When Google named Kotlin a first-class language for Android development in 2017, it immediately sparked a lot of buzz around the language. So far, that buzz hasn’t translated into an extraordinary amount of usage, at least in comparison to Java, JavaScript, and other, ultra-popular programming languages. According to RedMonk, which attempts to monitor both usage and discussion around a language, Kotlin ranks 18th—up only slightly from 20th place back in 2019. 

However, there are signs that developer interest in the language is growing at a healthy clip. For example, HackerRank’s 2020 Developer Skills Report placed Kotlin third among languages that developers wanted to learn next. And the language’s tight pairing with the world’s largest mobile ecosystem gives it exposure that a lot of other languages simply can’t match. Expect Kotlin usage to only increase significantly in coming years.  

Swift

Like Kotlin, Swift has massive corporate backing (Apple, in its case) that will ensure continued adoption over the next decade and beyond. Swift has been around since 2014, and, contrary to some pundits’ expectations, it’s failed to persuade thousands of developers to use it in place of Objective-C, Apple’s decades-old language for building apps. 

While Objective-C has managed to hold on to its user base, thanks in large part to all the iOS/macOS legacy code out there, Swift is becoming more fully featured and robust with every passing year, and it’s only a matter of time before even the most die-hard Objective-C fans switch to the newer language. Apple uses WWDC and other events to constantly plug Swift’s benefits; with that kind of full-throated commitment, it’s hard to see what could stop Swift’s continuing rise among iOS and macOS developers. 

TypeScript

Yes, there’s some debate over whether TypeScript “counts” as a programming language. Technically, it’s a superset of the ultra-popular and well-established JavaScript, meaning it transpiles code to JavaScript. But programming-language rankings such as RedMonk treat it as a full programming language—and show that it’s on the rise. 

With each new version, TypeScript integrates new improvements and features that make it a powerful option for those who don’t want to work with JavaScript. Data suggests that TypeScript is gaining fans among developers. For example, in the 2020 edition of the Stack Overflow Developer Survey, some 86.1 percent of surveyed developers said that Rust was a language they loved, followed by TypeScript (67.1 percent), Python (66.7 percent), Kotlin (62.9 percent), and Go (62.3 percent).

“As front-end web and Node.JS codebases grow in size and complexity, adopting TypeScript’s static typing gives developers increased confidence in their code’s correctness,” Stack Overflow added in that breakdown. That’s just one reason why TypeScript might only grow bigger in the years ahead. 

Go

Developed by Google, Go was designed for superior runtime efficiency and readability. While it hasn’t managed to become nearly as ubiquitous as, say, Python or Java, it’s nonetheless drawn fans among developers, with HackerRank’s 2020 Developer Skills Report naming it as the language that developers most want to learn next. Go has also found its way into popular applications and platforms such as Docker and Kubernetes, giving it a beachhead upon which its popularity can expand in the years ahead.

Logica

This is the highly speculative one on the list, since Google only recently announced Logica’s existence. Logica is designed to streamline or sidestep all the things that developers dislike about SQL (structured query language). Although SQL isn’t going anywhere, given its massive usage in relational databases worldwide, it’s not outside the realm of possibility that Logica (or a similar language) gains popularity because it’s more concise and supports reusable abstraction mechanisms (something that SQL lacks). 

8 Responses to “5 Programming Languages That Could Grow Big by 2030”

  1. Adonai Riaño

    Is logical that that’s happening, because the order to the evolution is perfection and simplicity and isn’t only for the biology sciences, is also for computing science. ¿how many workers at enviroment programing are wiling to learn other languages?

  2. John R. Grout

    Elixir.

    Swift’s presence on this list is a joke. No self-respecting developer wants to be locked into a one-company ecosystem. Apple could break you overnight, just as they broke all the companies that nurtured independent developers and resold software for the Mac with the App Store. They could even restrict the use of Swift via EULA, as Microsoft did with their language tools.

    • Maybe you should double-check your Swift knowledge: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Swift_(programming_language). It is already an open-sourced project, so Apple would be able to restrict their libraries and binaries, but not the language… It would be hard to put that ketchup back in the bottle if you know what I mean. I know a number of self-respecting developers that make a lot of money working in the Apple ecosystem. I’m not sure you know what you’re talking about. Like most things, its a choice, but it doesn’t sound like it fits you at all. Good luck in your developments. Dan

    • Nate P

      As an iOS dev currently working in ObjC and Swift and soon SwiftUI, I can tell you all top corporations {Fortune 100 – Fortune 500}, even those with legacy code, are moving their native mobile apps to Swift, and eventually Swift UI in the next few years. Most corps didn’t really start building with Swift until Swift 3 or so and the ecosystem and community around the language is great.

  3. Rob T

    My crystal ball? The only new one I think that will become something by 2030 is Rust. It seems they have enough fire behind it to turn into something. Kind of at a critical juncture right now. They’re adding it to the Linux Kernel and it’s in Windows stuff as well. We’ll probably know if it’s crap, crack, or nice sustainable food in the next 5 years. So they’d better make sure it works and works well. Otherwise it’ll be taken to the programming Cemetery. Seems people either love it or hate it.