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Swift Falls from Top 10 in RedMonk Programming Language Rankings

RedMonk noted the "relatively static nature of the top 10 languages" in its new programming language popularity report, but one notable change in that higher echelon is the exit of Swift.

Swift, introduced by Apple about four years ago, quickly became the new darling of the industry, exhibiting the fastest growth rate RedMonk has seen, cracking the top 10 in the January 2018 quarterly report.

In the June report issued today (Aug. 10), however, it fell back to 11. Ironically, it was surpassed by Objective-C, Apple's 34-year-old legacy language for iOS and other development that Swift was introduced to supplant. Though RedMonk advises against reading too much into incremental changes in its rankings, it called out Swift's one-step drop for special attention.

As it has done previously, RedMonk noted the lack of a server-side presence (something IBM has been trying to rectify in its enterprise Swift push) as a factor in its popularity.

"The only change within our top 10 languages this quarter was Swift's demotion from a tie with Objective-C back to the 11th spot on our list," RedMonk said. "This has the consequence of boosting Objective-C from a tie for 10th to outright 9th place. This may seem consequential, but the reality is that the difference in their collective rankings, while measurable, is slight. While it has yet to break in to the top 10 and stay there, Swift's adoption and usage remains robust. If or when it is ever established as a server-side language as IBM and others have attempted to push at times, its ceiling is virtually unlimited."

Here's the top 20 (including ties):

1 JavaScript
2 Java
3 Python
4 PHP
5 C#
6 C++
7 CSS
8 Ruby
9 C
9 Objective-C
11 Swift
12 Scala
12 Shell
14 Go
14 R
16 TypeScript
17 PowerShell
18 Perl
19 Haskell
20 Lua

For comparison, here's the June 2017 top 20:

1 JavaScript
2 Java
3 Python
4 PHP
5 C#
6 C++
7 CSS
8 Ruby
9 C
10 Objective-C
11 Swift
12 Shell
12 Scala
14 R
15 Go
15 Perl
17 TypeScript
18 PowerShell
19 Haskell
20 CoffeeScript
20 Lua
20 Matlab

Here's a RedMonk June 2018 report plot including many more languages:

RedMonk June 2018 Programming Language Report
[Click on image for larger view.] RedMonk June 2018 Programming Language Report (source: RedMonk)

For further comparison, here are the latest programming language popularity reports from IEEE Spectrum and TIOBE, issued a couple weeks ago.

IEEE Spectrum 2018 Rankings, Compared with 2017
[Click on image for larger view.] IEEE Spectrum 2018 Rankings, Compared with 2017 (source: IEEE Spectrum)
TIOBE August 2018 Rankings, Compared with 2017
[Click on image for larger view.] TIOBE August 2018 Rankings, Compared with 2017 (source: TIOBE Index)

Here's RedMonk's methodology:

While the means of collection has changed, the basic process remains the same: we extract language rankings from GitHub and Stack Overflow, and combine them for a ranking that attempts to reflect both code (GitHub) and discussion (Stack Overflow) traction. The idea is not to offer a statistically valid representation of current usage, but rather to correlate language discussion and usage in an effort to extract insights into potential future adoption trends.

About the Author

David Ramel is the editor of Visual Studio Magazine.

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