C++ and C Jockey for Second

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Python, C and C++ continue to hold the top three spots on the TIOBE Programming Community Index in July, while COBOL made an interesting jump into the top 20.

Python has sat at the top of the index for so long partially because it’s relatively easy to learn. C is especially useful for writing small, embedded, safety-critical and high-performance programs. C++ has similar requirements to C and is better suited for large software systems.

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July 2023 TIOBE Index: Top 10 programming languages

This month’s top 10 list of programming languages, generated with TIOBE’s points system and based on search engine information from around the world, is:

  1. Python
  2. C
  3. C++
  4. Java
  5. C#
  6. JavaScript
  7. Visual Basic
  8. SQL
  9. PHP
  10. MATLAB

C, C++ and Python maintain top spots

“A few months ago, the programming C++ language claimed position 3 of the TIOBE index (at the expense of Java),” TIOBE Software CEO Paul Jansen wrote in the July post on the Index. “But C++ has not finished its rise. C seems to be its next victim.” The two are close contenders, with a difference of only 0.76% on the scoring system.

While C is relatively easy to learn, C++ has a steeper learning curve and a lot of complex features. However, Jansen said, its popularity is still rising because it provides good performance in a wide variety of fields.

“With C++, you can develop large software systems that are still maintainable and run fast,” Jansen said in an email to TechRepublic. “There is hardly any other programming language capable of doing that.”

MATLAB regains the top 10

MATLAB has returned to its all-time high position at #10. This programming language can be used for multiple disciplines, but it is best known for matrix manipulations, function and data plotting, algorithm implementations, user interface creation and interfacing with programs written in other languages. In April 2022, MATLAB was in a precarious spot at #20 after staying in the top 20 for more than 10 years. It dropped out of the list briefly before returning in June 2022. At that time, Jansen pointed out it competes with a wide range of languages, from Python to Julia.

Notable changes to this month’s index

  • JavaScript’s #6 position is an all-time high for the language created in 1995.
  • Scratch and Rust are also sitting at their all-time highs a little further down the rankings, at #12 and #17, respectively.
  • COBOL re-entered the top 20 at #20.
  • Julia approached the top 20 at #24, spurred by the popularity of data science and data mining.

SEE: These 12 self-paced courses let you learn Python coding on your own time. (TechRepublic Academy)

What is the TIOBE Programming Community Index?

The TIOBE Programming Community Index is a leaderboard of programming languages ranked by TIOBE’s points system for the popularity of each language. The index is updated once a month. Ratings are determined by the community of engineers, courses and third-party vendors. Popular search engines such as Google, Bing, Yahoo, Wikipedia, Amazon, YouTube and Baidu are also used to calculate the ratings. TIOBE notes that the index doesn’t measure “the best” programming language or the language in which most lines of code have been written — rather, it’s a measure of general popularity and awareness.

TIOBE positions its index as a good tool for checking whether a professional programmer’s skills are still up to date or for making a strategic decision about what programming language one should adopt when building a new software system.

June 2023 TIOBE Index: Top 10 programming languages

This month’s top 10 list of programming languages, generated with TIOBE’s points system and based on search engine information from around the world, is:

  1. Python
  2. C
  3. C++
  4. Java
  5. C#
  6. Visual Basic
  7. JavaScript
  8. PHP
  9. SQL
  10. Assembly language

Notable changes to this month’s index

  • Python has dropped to a yearly share of 13%, down from an all-time high of 17%.
  • Java fell to fourth place, and C++ rose to third.
  • Two new languages entered the top 50 this month: X++ and Raku. X++ is the language used to create business management and accounting systems in Microsoft Dynamics. Raku is a general-purpose programming language that spun out of Perl.

AI could shake up the world of programming languages

“Will Python remain number 1? This depends, I think, mainly on the popularity of AI,” Jansen wrote on the TIOBE Index site.

Python has remained popular for a long time; it started to climb the index in 2017, ended last year at a high of 17% and began to dip again to 13% in 2023.

SEE: Machine learning and AI skills are in demand. Check out our video about five skills machine learning engineers need to have.

“If tools such as ChatGPT remain the talk of the day, it will [attract] newcomers, and then Python is definitely here to stay. If not, Python should fear for its first position,” Jansen wrote.

OpenAI’s ChatGPT was written primarily in Python. ChatGPT can be used to write code in several languages — although not always with 100% accuracy.

TIOBE Index for May 2023: Slow and steady wins the programming language race

All of the most popular programming languages have held their spots in the TIOBE Programming Community Index top 10 this year, with a few changes as front-runners like Python and C jockey around. The “rather stable” popularity of the top 10 is normal, TIOBE Software CEO Paul Jansen pointed out on the updated index page.

“So, if you have just invented a brand new language, please have some patience!” Jansen said.

May 2023 TIOBE Index: Top 10 programming languages

This month’s top 10 list of programming languages, generated with TIOBE’s points system and based on search engine information from around the world, is:

  1. Python
  2. C
  3. Java
  4. C++
  5. C#
  6. Visual Basic
  7. JavaScript
  8. PHP
  9. SQL
  10. Assembly Language

Notable changes include that PHP rose one place to swap the number eight position with SQL. In addition, Assembly Language took the number 10 spot from Go.

Most popular programming languages are over 20 years old

Jansen pointed out that most of these languages aren’t only common faces in the top 10, they’re all over 20 years old. C#, the youngest on the list, first saw use in 2000. “Almost every day, a new programming language is born, but hardly any of them enter the top 100. At least not in their first 10 years,” Jansen wrote on the TIOBE Index site. Only eight of the top 100 programming languages are younger than 10 years old.

“None of them are less than 5 years old,” Jansen wrote. “In other words, it is almost impossible to hit the charts as a newbie.”

On the other hand, older languages still get a lot of use today. Fortran, which was created in 1957, is increasing in popularity in May 2023 because more programmers are looking for a language suitable for the growing demand for numerical computational power.

TIOBE Index for April 2023: Dark horse Zig reaches top 50

Python maintained its top spot on the TIOBE Programming Community Index of programming languages for April. Meanwhile, Zig, a programming language spun out of Google and invented to smooth out some of the Zig team’s problems with C and C++, entered the top 50 due to working particularly well in projects involving big data.

“These kinds of languages are booming due to the vast amounts of data that needs to be processed nowadays,” TIOBE Software CEO Paul Jansen said.

This seems to be the reason behind a surprise jump into the top 50. Zig jumped from 61st to 46th.

April 2023 TIOBE Index: Top 10 programming languages

This month’s top 10 list of programming languages, generated with TIOBE’s point system and based on search engine information from around the world, is:

  1. Python
  2. C
  3. Java
  4. C++
  5. C#
  6. Visual Basic
  7. JavaScript
  8. SQL
  9. PHP
  10. Go

TIOBE measures the top 100 most popular programming languages in use today. Like last month, the top five programming languages stayed steady in their places in April. Further down the list, Assembly Language has been on a steep descent since last August. SWL, PHP, Go and Delphi/Object Pascal all rose slightly as Assembly Language dropped. Ruse, another language suited for high-performance programming with vast amounts of data, seems to have become a permanent resident in the top 20.

Zig’s remarkable rise

More and more data flows across the world today than ever before. For this reason, high-performance workloads built on programming languages created to wrangle vast amounts of data prove popular. This is one of the forces behind Zig’s remarkable rise into the top 50.

“Zig is a very pragmatic language that interacts smoothly with C/C++ programs, thus making it easy to migrate from C/C++ to Zig,” Jansen wrote on the TIOBE Index page. “It has all the nice features of C and C++ (such as explicit memory management enhanced with option types) and has abandoned the not-so-nice features (such as the dreadful preprocessing).”

Now, Zig has inched closer on the leaderboard to its top-performing competitors, C and C++.

TIOBE Index for March 2023: Programming language Go breaks into the top 10

Python maintains its number one spot on the TIOBE Index this month. The index has recently shuffled around due to dark horse, Go, which moved into the number 10 position.

Go language reaches competitive 10th spot

Jansen pointed out that Go receives Google backing, which increases confidence in the language. Go was invented inside of Google due to engineers’ frustration with C++.

“Go is not revolutionary, but its strength is in combining the right features. It has built-in concurrency and garbage collection, is statically typed and has good performance,” wrote Jansen.

SEE: Python Crash Course (TechRepublic Academy)

Docker and Kubernetes both have Go development in their pedigrees, Jansen added.

However, the number 10 spot on the TIOBE Index is volatile, and Jansen says the question of whether Go will stay in the top 10 is an open and “interesting” one.

TIOBE named Go Language of the Year in 2009 and 2016.

March 2023 top 10 list

Most of the top 10 programming languages held on to their February spots in March, though SQL and PHP swapped spots to land in eighth and ninth, respectively.

Python rose slightly in the TIOBE estimation with a 0.57% point increase. In second place, C maintained its spot with a 1.67% point increase. Java held on to third place with a 2.37% point increase.

The complete top 10 list for March also includes C++, C#, Visual Basic, JavaScript, SQL, PHP and Go.

TIOBE Index for February 2023: Python holds top spot

Python was number one again on the TIOBE index. February 2023’s top two programming languages were Python and C.

“Python is great for data mining, AI programming, statistical programs, research projects, web sites, small glue programs and learning how to program,” said Jansen in the monthly report. “The second language, C, is the best language for writing small, embedded, safety-critical and high performance programs.”

Ranked third on this list was C++, which had a stellar year-over-year increase of 5.93% — a very big jump compared to about 1% year-over-year growth for the other most popular programming languages. With all the requirements of C but more suitable to writing a large software system, C++ proves it’s still a juggernaut in terms of awareness among professional developers.

C++ won the TIOBE programming language of the year award for 2022; Python had won the two previous years, swapping places with C every few years since 2017. C++ last gained the top spot in 2003.

Other February 2023 findings

Other notable findings in the February 2023 TIOBE Index included C++ and Java swapping their places in third and fourth, and SQL rising from eighth to 10th place over the last year.

Behind Python’s significant 15.49% rating, up 0.16%, is C at 15.39%, up 1.31%. It was followed by C++ at 13.94%, up 5.93%, and Java at 13.21%, up 1.07%.

Rounding out TIOBE’s top 10 programming languages for February were C#, Visual Basic, JavaScript, SQL, Assembly Language and PHP.

SEE: Hiring kit: Back-end Developer (TechRepublic Premium)

Two lesser-known programming languages, Scratch and Rust, rose significantly in popularity and received a special shout out in the February update to the index. These are notable for their specificity, Jansen said.

“It is important to understand that every programming language has its own strengths and weaknesses and usually excels in certain domains,” he said. “Take for instance the two new booming languages in the TIOBE Index top 20: Scratch and Rust. Scratch is meant to learn programming and is very popular in elementary and secondary schools, whereas Rust is a safe and high performance programming language for experts. In other words, they serve different purposes.”

Late 2022 updates

In the time between our last look at the Index and April 2023, the major change is that there has been more attention given to high performance systems, said Jansen. This is shown by the growth in C++, which gained 3% to move up to position number three in the index, and Rust, which entered the top 20 list within the last half year.

August 2022: Python ‘going through the roof’

Python continued to commandeer the TIOBE Index. The language gained another 2% in August and was then at an all-time high of 15.42% market share, making it “unstoppable,” TIOBE’s site said.

It is not easy to find a field of programming today where Python is not used extensively, noted Jansen. Python’s main appeal is in its ease of use, he added.

“Most languages have a steep learning curve — except for Python,’’ Jansen said. “Hence, lots of newcomers start with programming Python. It is simple, well-structured, easy to install and there are a lot of libraries available. So all the non-critical programming stuff can easily be done by Python. That makes it so popular nowadays.”

But Jansen added that, “there is somewhere a ceiling for Python,” because it is dynamically typed and too slow. “Since it is an interpreted language that can unexpectedly throw a runtime error, it will not end up soon in safety-critical systems,” he said.

This is why C and C++ are gaining momentum right now, Jansen added.

June 2022: The top three continue their dominance

In the June 2022 edition of the TIOBE index update, there remained very little change at the top of the rankings, as Python, C and Java kept their hold on the top three spots.

“Last month, not much happened in the TIOBE index. The top four languages — Python, C, Java and C++ — have a market share of almost 50% together now,” said Jansen. “We are halfway through the year, and the biggest candidates for TIOBE’s language of the year 2022 are Python, C, C++ and C# so far.”

The most movement came toward the bottom of the rankings, as Fortran and MATLAB once again entered the top 20, supplanting Lua and Prolog. Lua and Prolog both fell significantly in the rankings from the May edition, with Lua falling six spots all the way to 24th and Prolog dropping from the top 20 to 25th. In the middle of the rankings, programming language R saw a large drop as well, falling from 13th last month to 19th in June.

Classic Visual Basic benefited most from R’s descent, jumping from 15th to 13th over the last 30 days. Ruby also saw a surge in its June standing, jumping from 19th to 15th as part of the shakeup.

“Last month, not much happened in the TIOBE index,” Jansen said. “We don’t foresee any of the relatively new and hot languages such as Rust, Dart, Kotlin or TypeScript approaching the top 20. Let’s hope for more exciting news in August.”

May 2022: C# poised for a jump into the top three?

While there was not a ton of movement from April 2022 to May 2022, C# as a programming language seemed to be picking up steam. C# was singled out by Jansen as a contender to make a move into the top three in place of C, which sat in second in the May rankings. One other contender to move into the top of the rankings was C++, which sat in fourth.

“If we compare the current TIOBE Index rankings to one year ago (May 2021), C# is gaining the most popularity of all programming languages by far. Its ranking has increased almost 2% for the last 12 months. C# is one of the most mature programming languages in existence, supporting many modern programming paradigms,” Jansen said. “Until recently, its only disadvantage was that its Linux support was questionable, but this has changed rapidly the last couple of years. So chances are high that C# might enter the TIOBE Index top three by replacing C. Another serious contender for this top three position is C++. Its long-term trend, boosted by C++20, is definitely upward.”

One minor change from April to May was R falling slightly in the rankings from 11th to 13th. Jumping into those spots were Delphi/Object Pascal (11th) and Swift (12th). Elsewhere, the rankings remained relatively stagnant outside of a few minor adjustments, but it remains to be seen whether C# or C++ will be able to supplant C in the top three.

April 2022: MATLAB falls in rankings

The release of April’s edition of the TIOBE Index saw a few marked changes across the board, with MATLAB notably continuing its fall out of the top 20. In March, MATLAB ranked as the 15th most popular programming language for developers before falling to the 20th spot in April. Python remained the top programming language, according to Jansen.

MATLAB’s steady decline

The biggest takeaway from April’s rankings was the continuous downslide of MATLAB, the programming language best known for its use in matrix manipulations, function and data plotting, algorithm implementations, user interface creation and interfacing with programs written in other languages. MATLAB includes functions and developments for multiple disciplines through MATLAB Add-On Toolboxes. Some Toolbox examples for MATLAB include 5G, communications analysis and testing, and audio.

“MATLAB is about to drop out of the top 20 for the first time in more than 10 years,” said Jansen. “The MATLAB programming language is mainly used in the numerical analysis domain. It is often combined with Simulink models, which are from the same MathWorks company. Although MATLAB has a biannual release cycle, the language doesn’t evolve that much. And since MATLAB licenses are rather expensive, alternatives are catching up quickly.”

The alternatives mentioned by Jansen were becoming too much for MATLAB to compete with, as the rivals included the powerhouse Python, which reigns as the leading programming language once again, and Julia, which has a focus on numerical analysis. Julia moved from 32nd to 26th in the April edition of the TIOBE Index.

Winners and losers

Python not only kept the number one ranking among programming languages from the previous month, but also saw the biggest increase in usage from April 2021 to 2022: a 2.88% increase year over year, moving from the third-most utilized language to the first.

Elsewhere in the rankings, PHP found itself falling two spots from its March ranking, declining from the eighth spot to 10th. Because of PHP’s small dip, Assembly Language was able to nab the eighth place in TIOBE’s index, and SQL moved from 10th to ninth.

Another uptick, this time on the outside of the top 20, was Visual FoxPro, moving up four spots from 27th to 23rd. Visual FoxPro is a data-centric procedural programming language with object-oriented programming features.

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