Java Closes 2019 as Most Popular Language, Python Still Hot

It's been up, it's been down, but the venerable Java closes out 2019 at the top of the TIOBE Index as December's most popular programming language.

Java has lived at the top of TIOBE's monthly popularity ratings chart, well, since the ratings were first published. But it slipped in 2017, earning an "all-time low score." And to varying degrees, rumors have fueled expectations of further slippage (and even its demise) ever since.

TIOBE will announce its Programming Language of the Year next month, and Java is among four candidates for that title, along with C, Python, and C#.

TIOBE Software has been publishing the results of its monthly search for the languages in which the most lines of code were written since 2001. The ratings are based on the number of skilled engineers worldwide, language courses, and third-party vendors, the company says. TIOBE uses 25 search engines to collect key words from the highest ranked websites of Web traffic monitor Alexa and calculates the most lines of code written in a given month to determine its percentage share of developers' attention.

"It is important to note that the TIOBE index is not about the best programming language or the language in which most lines of code have been written," the company has said on its Web site. TIOBE publishes its search criteria on its Web site.

This was a big year for Python, which scored all-time highs almost every month, but found C++ hot on its heels this fall. Developers wrote a lot of Java, C++, and C# code last month, TOBE noted, though the reasons for this are "unclear."

Python was TIOBE's "language of the year" in 2018. The top language for 2019 will be announced in January. Python is a "top favorite," TIOBE says, noting that "its popularity keeps growing," adding "This is mainly due to the lack of programmers in the world and the ease of learning this language if compared to other languages."

Last month, in GitHub's "State of the Octoverse 2019" report, Python outranked Java as the second most popular language on the repository, behind JavaScript.  

About the Author

John K. Waters is the editor in chief of a number of sites, with a focus on high-end development, AI and future tech. He's been writing about cutting-edge technologies and culture of Silicon Valley for more than two decades, and he's written more than a dozen books. He also co-scripted the documentary film Silicon Valley: A 100 Year Renaissance, which aired on PBS.  He can be reached at [email protected].