Google Dart crashes into top 20 programming languages

The language's JavaScript compiler helps fuel interest; meanwhile, Java hits an all-time low in Tiobe's popularity index

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Could Google's Dart language be turning the corner in developer acceptance?

Billed as a JavaScript rival, Dart has faced an uphill climb in its bid to attract developers. But this month's Tiobe Index of language popularity has Dart finally cracking its top 20 list, ranking 17th with a rating of 1.119 percent, slightly behind Ruby but ahead of Microsoft's F# language and Apple's new Swift language. The index gauges language popularity through a formula that assesses searches on sites like Google, Yahoo, and YouTube.

"The adoption of Dart had a slow start after its birth at the end of 2011 because engineers were afraid that browsers other than Google's Chrome wouldn't support Dart," Tiobe said in its index. "And they were right. But now that the Dart-to-JavaScript compiler is mature and claims to generate even faster code than handwritten JavaScript, the Dart language seems to have a bright future."

The ranking of Dart, like Swift, will be quite volatile for a while, Tiobe Managing Director Paul Jansen said in an email, but he expects it to stay in the top 20. Tiobe's report noted some slippage for JavaScript, ranked 12th this month, ninth last month, and 10th the same time a year ago, but Jansen said it would be hard to conclude JavaScript was slipping based on one data point. "The only thing I wanted to point out was that the rise of Dart and the decline of JavaScript this month might be no coincidence."

Google has promoted the supposed benefits of porting from JavaScript to Dart, but the RedMonk Programming Language Rankings from this spring had Google's other major language project, the Go language, making progress while Dart had stalled. Tiobe's index this month, however, could serve as a clear indicator that developers are starting to take more of an interest in Dart, which was ranked 81st in the index a year ago.

Elsewhere in the Tiobe index this month, C again finished first, with a rating of 17.655 percent, followed by Java (13.506 percent), Objective-C (10.096 percent), C++ (4.868 percent), and C# (4.748 percent). Java failed to recover after last month's decline in the index, falling further this month to another all-time low, but C++, which also had a record low last month, inched up slightly.

This month's PyPL index, which also assess language popularity, has Java faring much better, in first place, with a 26.3 percent share. PHP was in second place (12.2 percent), followed by Python (11.2 percent), C# (9.3 percent) and C++ (9 percent). The PyPL index findings are based on analyzing how often language tutorials are searched on in Google.

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