Java and C++ Lose Tops Spots in TIOBE Index for the First Time

For the first time since 2001, when TIOBE Software began publishing the results of its monthly search for the languages in which the most lines of code were written, Java and C++ are not occupying one of the two top spots in the venerable TIOBE Programming Community Index. The C language kept its number one ranking for November, but Python slipped into the number two spot, edging Java and C++ into third and fourth place, respectively.  

Python has enjoyed something of a surge in popularity in recent years. It's an interpreted, high-level, general-purpose programming language that's easy to learn, so it's the go-to language taught in beginning computer programming courses in high school. And it's readability, extensibility, and maintainability have made it a popular second or third language for the pros.

"I believe that Python's popularity has to do with general demand," wrote TIOBE's CEO Paul Jansen, in the intro to the latest index. "In the past, most programming activities were performed by software engineers. But programming skills are needed everywhere nowadays and there is a lack of good software developers. As a consequence, we need something simple that can be handled by non-software engineers, something easy to learn with fast edit cycles and smooth deployment. Python meets all these needs."

The TIOBE Index 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. Google, Bing, Yahoo!, Wikipedia, Amazon, YouTube, and Baidu are all used to calculate the ratings.

"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," Jansen added.

C#, Visual Basic, JavaScript, PHP, R, and SQL made it to the top ten in November's Index. Groovy, Perl, and Go all gained ground since the last Index was published.

TIOBE also provides ranking details, such as a complete list of the top 50 programming languages for the month, languages ranking #51 to #100, and a Very Long Term History, which shows a "bigger picture" list of the average positions for a period of 12 months of the top 10 programming languages going back to 1985 (in five-year increments). And there's an annual programming Hall of Fame, also published on the website.

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].