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What's New in Programming Language Popularity: Python vs. Java

New programming language popularity reports are out for April 2018, with one index showing Python on track to upstage perennial No. 1 Java and another showing Perl is "having a hard time."

Java has long ruled the roost in reports such as the TIOBE Index and the PYPL PopularitY of Programming Language chart, and nothing's changed in that regard for their new findings.

However, in charting the long term, PYPL Index shows Python, having grown the most in the past five years at 12.6 percent, is right on the cusp of overtaking Java. PHP, meanwhile, is on a downward slide.

Long-Term PopularitY of Programming Language
[Click on image for larger view.] Long-Term PopularitY of Programming Language (source: PYPL)

The April TIOBE Index, meanwhile, explains the "hard time" being experienced by Perl and the slide of Objective-C, the latter of which is easily explained by the introduction of Swift as Apple's official programming language of choice for iOS, macOS and so on.

"But what about Perl?" the TIOBE Index asks, noting that until 2005 it was the most dominant scripting language in the world.

"Personally I think that the fork of Perl 6 (and its delays for decades) together with the unclear future of what was going to happen to the language was the main reason for engineers to look for alternatives such as Python and Ruby," the index's proprietor states. "And still today the Perl community hasn't defined a clear future, and as a consequence, it is slowly fading away."

April 2018 TIOBE Index Top 20
[Click on image for larger view.] April 2018 TIOBE Index Top 20 (source: TIOBE Index)

In the TIOBE top 10, the notable moves from last year (aside from the introduction of SQL to the index) are C# moving down one slot from fourth to fifth -- trading places with Python -- and Visual Basic.NET swapping places with PHP to rank at No. 6.

Of the top 20, the C language experienced the most year-over-year growth, 6.62 percent, in TIOBE's findings.

April 2018 PopularitY of Programming Language Top 20
[Click on image for larger view.] April 2018 PopularitY of Programming Language Top 20 (source: PYPL)

The PYPL, however, shows No. 1 Java having lost 0.8 percentage share since last April, to close at 22.62 total share, just above Python at 22.05 percent share benefitting from 5.2 percent growth.

JavaScript was the big mover in the top 10 (0.2 percent growth), while Kotlin at No. 16 experienced the most growth off all, at 0.8 percent. TypeScript at No. 12 followed at 0.5 percent growth.

Use of Kotlin, of course, has skyrocketed since Google named it a first-class citizen for coding Android apps (along with Java) last year.

The PYPL analyzes how often language tutorials are searched on Google.

TIOBE says its ratings are based on the number of skilled engineers worldwide, courses and third-party vendors, taking into account search engines such as Google, Bing, Yahoo!, Wikipedia, Amazon, YouTube and Baidu.

About the Author

David Ramel is the editor of Visual Studio Magazine.

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