JavaScript surges past Swift, R for top programming language honors

Objective-C's stumble cleared the way for JavaScript to become Tiobe's Language of the Year, while PyPL gave the title to Swift

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When it comes to language popularity, JavaScript had a big 2014, and Objective-C can expect to slip this year, the monthly Tiobe Index reports. The rival PyPL index, meanwhile, gives plaudits to Apple's Swift language as its big gainer for the year just past.

Based on a formula assessing Internet searches on languages, the Tiobe Index named JavaScript its Language of the Year for 2014. "Swift and R appeared to be the main candidates for the title, but due to a deep fall of Objective-C this month, a lot of other languages took advantage of this and surpassed these two candidates at the last moment," Tiobe said.

JavaScript has won the award because it appeared to be the biggest mover of 2014, jumping from a 1.569 percent rating a year ago to a 3.274 percent rating this month, an increase of roughly 1.70 percent of share. "The JavaScript programming language has a long history and is always considered as the 'ugly duckling' from a language design point of view. Nevertheless, JavaScript has become the standard browser language through the years," Tiobe said. "Boosted by the successes of JavaScript libraries and frameworks like JQuery, Bootstrap, Node.js, and GWT, JavaScript really deserves this award." JavaScript placed seventh on this month's index; it was ninth a year ago.

JavaScript competitors, however, did not fare as well. "Both CoffeeScript (moving from position 170 to 158) and TypeScript (from 205 to 195) hardly moved upward in 2014," said Tiobe. "An exception to this is Dart, which made a big leap from position 124 to number 34 in 2014. Let's see what happens to Dart in 2015, but it seems JavaScript has no real competition yet."

Tiobe Managing Director Paul Jansen attributes Dart's leap to its principal backer: Google. "They push it a lot, and everything Google does gets attention. I think Google will have to show what they really want with Dart in 2015."

For this year, Tiobe anticipates gains from Swift, which was introduced last June. "Objective-C will probably lose its dominant position in mobile app development, whereas Java and Swift will gain traction in that field. Java might even become No. 1 of the Tiobe index again," Tiobe said. Java recently has been No. 2 behind the C language.

"Swift will certainly take share away from Objective-C, but because mobile app development for Apple devices is not rising any more, it will go slower than expected," Jansen said. "Java benefits from its dominant position in the Android ecosystem. There will be competitors in the Android area, but Java will stay for a long while."

Other trends in programming include modeling and big data, according to Tiobe. "Here, MATLAB and R appear to be the market leaders. There is a realistic chance that they will enter the top 10 in 2015," Tiobe said.

For 2014, other big movers in Tiobe's index include PL/SQL (1.38 percent increase in share) and Perl (1.33 percent). "The only thing I can think of for the jump of PL/SQL and Perl is rather technical," said Jansen. "Objective-C lost a lot of market share for some search engines. This concerned search engines that had a relative high score for PL/SQL and Perl. As a consequence both PL/SQL and Perl got better scores."

C's rating for the month of January was 16.703 percent while Java's was 15.528 percent. Objective-C was third with 6.953 percent, followed by C++ (6.705 percent); C# (5.045 percent), PHP (3.784 percent), JavaScript, Python (2.613 percent), Perl (2.256 percent), and PL/SQL (2.014 percent).

The PyPL Popularity of Programming Language index, which analyzes Google searches on language tutorials, named Swift its Language of the Year for 2014. Swift had a rating of 3 percent for 2014 and ranked ninth on PyPL's index for the month, jumping past two long-established languages: Ruby and Visual Basic.

In the January PyPL index, Java was tops, with a 25.8 percent share, followed by PHP (12.4 percent), Python (11.8 percent), C# (9.9 percent), and C++ (8.7 percent). Rounding out PyPL's top 10 were C (8.2 percent), JavaScript (7.4 percent), Objective-C (6.7 percent), Swift (3.1 percent), Ruby (2.7 percent), and Visual Basic (2.1 percent).

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