Python scales new heights in language popularity

Python is increasingly in use as a first language in high school and universities, propelling it to its highest spot ever on the Tiobe index as well as a high ranking on the PyPL index

Python scales new heights in language popularity
Credit: flickr/Torkild Retvedt

Python is rising in popularity in Tiobe's monthly language index, reaching an all-time high of fourth place this month, up from fifth place last month. The language now has a rating of 4.429 percent, an increase of more than 2 percent from a year ago, when it was ranked eighth.

"[Python is] easy to learn, available everywhere, and embraced by industry. Python is the current standard in scripting," a report accompanying the index said. Tiobe uses a formula involving searches on popular search engines to gauge language popularity.

In an email, Paul Jansen, managing director at Tiobe, said Python is in use more and more as a first language at high schools and universities. Moreover, it runs on all major platforms and is very expressive, he said. While JavaScript and PHP are used for only Web scripting, Python can serve as the general scripting language for building scripts and small algorithms, as well as serving as glue code between applications, he said.

Python also scores well in the rival PyPL Popularity of Programming Language index, again coming in second place with a share of 11.6 percent, behind Java's 24.4 percent. PyPL analyzes how often languages are searched on in Google.

Elsewhere in this month's Tiobe index, Java continues its recent rise and is expected to be Tiobe's Programming Language of the Year, a title awarded to the language with the greatest increase in popularity. Java is ranked first, this time with a 20.973 percent rating. Jansen reiterated that Java is being helped by its use in Android mobile development and by the adoption of Java 8, which was introduced last year.

Objective-C, meanwhile, continues to decline. In third place a year ago, it is now in 15th place and has seen a drop of nearly 8 percentage points, leaving it with a 1.357 percent rating. "From the moment that Apple declared that Objective-C was to be replaced by Swift, there was no demand for Objective-C anymore. Obviously nobody was interested any more in learning Objective-C after this statement," said Jansen. Swift, the successor to Objective-C, has risen from 17th place a year ago to 14th place, with a 1.405 percent rating.

C comes in second place in this month's index again, with a rating of 16.460 percent, followed by C++ (5.943 percent) and C# in fifth place (4.114 percent). Respectively inishing third, fourth, and fifth in the PyPL index were PHP, with a 10.7 percent share; C# (8.9 percent); and C++ (7.6 percent).

For next year, Jansen sees big-data-related languages like R and Julia doing well, along with JavaScript and Typescript. Scala, he added, is "a serious candidate for a permanent position in the top 20." On the downside, Jansen anticipates hard times for Objective-C, Pascal, and PHP in 2016.

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