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The most popular programming language

Mar30

Written by:
2009/03/30 08:47 AM RssIcon

When trying to discus which is the most popular programming language, we can become emotional, entering into a battle that rivals religion sport or politics. Often times there is no need to debate, the language of choice is pre-chosen. Example of when a programmer needs to update a legacy system or a existing system written in a particular language.

If there is one thing I can stress and that is that a programming language is just one tool in a developer’s expansive collection of speciality software and hardware.  I always maintain, "Use the best tool for the job". Many developer will, out of personal bias, suggest a language outside of logic and sanity.

So does it really matter which programming language a developer uses, as long as he or she is meeting customer requirements on time and within budget?

Many will say it does.  Look at the great rivals, Ford or Chevy,  Coke or Pepsi, Manchester Utd. or Liverpool.  The reality is that we all get passionate about our tools. Some more so than others.

Update: A new and updated post on The Most Popular Programming Language

Most Popular?

 

There are a number of ways to measure the popularity of a programming language, for example, based on the number of:

  • New applications written in the language
  • Existing applications written in the language
  • Developers that use the language primarily
  • Developers that use the language ever
  • Web searches
  • Available jobs that require skills in the language
  • Developers’


Tiobe is a popular site for ranking programming languages.  Tiobe bases its rankings on world-wide availability of skilled engineers, courses and third party vendors.  Rankings are not about the best programming language or the language in which most lines of code have been written.  Tiobe uses Google, MSN and Yahoo! search engines to measure the Web “chatter” and hence the popularity of each programming language.

Position
Mar 2009
Position
Mar 2008
Delta in Position Programming Language Ratings
Mar 2009
Delta
Mar 2008
Status
1 1 Java 19.797% -1.69%   A
2 2 C 15.862% +1.00%   A
3 5 C++ 10.357% +1.08%   A
4 4 PHP 9.485% -0.41%   A
5 3 (Visual) Basic 8.285% -3.32%   A
6 7 Python 5.185% +0.42%   A
7 8 C# 4.321% -0.19%   A
8 10 JavaScript 3.607% +1.27%   A
9 6 Perl 3.419% -2.79%   A
10 9 Delphi 2.710% -0.09%   A
11 11 Ruby 2.601% +0.74%   A
12 12 D 1.809% +0.62%   A
13 13 PL/SQL 1.042% +0.06%   A
14 22 Logo 0.964% +0.65%   A-
15 14 SAS 0.796% -0.15%   A
16 17 Pascal 0.733% +0.29%   A--
17 29 ABAP 0.638% +0.49%   B
18 26 RPG (OS/400) 0.585% +0.41%   B
19 21 ActionScript 0.481% +0.17%   B
20 18 Lua 0.480% +0.09%   B


LangPop.com is another popular site for ranking programming languages. Langpop gives us a Normalized Comparison Chart that combines the data gathered across Yahoo, Craigslist, Amazon, Freshmeat, Google Code, and Delicious for 29 different programming languages.

Update: LangPop.com is up for sale, and is no longer supplying data.

What can we learn from these charts? Well if you can get past the anger or excitement of either not seeing your most popular language where you expected it to be, or seeing it in a higher position than what you expected, you will realise that it is pudent to have multiple toolsets in your toolbox of programming languages.

What's popular in industry depends on what you plan on doing. For websites/servers in a corporate setting, .net is very popular. As part of .net you have languages such as c# and Visual Basic .Net.

There are many other languages for different types of work as well. Let's say you are going to be doing programming for financial modelling... Visual Basic might be the language of choice. Perhaps you need to write a program, or develop a website that works in a Linux environment, then PHP would be a better solution.

I would recommend NOT specializing. The best is to know ALL. or at least one or two of the popular ones. For example, IF you can learn VB.net, C#, and CGI/Perl/PHP, then it won't matter what system your employer/customer uses. You will be able to work with like 99% of all web servers/web sites.

As a programmer, select an industry you want to be in and become an expert in at least the top two languages for that industry. That way you will be in high demand and can get good paying jobs.

What languages do you use? Which do you believe are the most popular in your circles?
 

Update: A new and updated post on The Most Popular Programming Language

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2 comment(s) so far...


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Re: The most popular programming language

Can any one tell me the future of PHP.

By sunilkumar on  2009/10/23 12:36 PM
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Re: The most popular programming language

@sunulkumar,

I think PHP still has a future, especially in the Linux market. With about 10% of the market, it does have a future.
The beauty about PHP is that you do not have to be OS specific. PHP works on Linux as well as windows
If PHP would get a really good IDE, I believe it will do much better.

By Robert Bravery on  2009/10/23 01:52 PM
 
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