JavaScript and Java fend off challenges from PHP, Python

The latest RedMonk language rankings show the two stalwarts continuing their reign while the momentum stalls for Go and Swift

JavaScript and Java fend off challenges from PHP, Python
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Following a familiar pattern, JavaScript and Java are atop the RedMonk programming language rankings for early 2016 as they have been before.

PHP and Python are in the third and fourth spots respectively, followed by a three-way tie for fifth place among C#, C++, and Ruby. The rankings are based on an analysis of both language usage on GitHub and discussions of languages on Stack Overflow.

"JavaScript's continued strength is impressive, as is Java's steady, robust performance," analyst Stephen O'Grady, author of the rankings, said in his report accompanying the data. "The longtime presence of these two languages in particular atop our rankings is no coincidence; instead it reflects an increasing willingness to employ a best-tool-for-the-job approach, even within the most conservative of enterprises." Java and JavaScript often are used in the same application, he noted.

The rest of the top 10 also has stayed similarly static, O'Grady said, with spots eight through 10 filled by CSS, C, and Objective-C. "The two most obvious candidates for a Top 10 ranking at this point appear to be Go and Swift, but they have their work cut out for them before they get there." The languages have demonstrated strong upward mobility in recent quarters and are increasingly leveraged in strategic roles in back-end and mobile development respectively,  O'Grady said.

Go and Swift are ranked 15th and 17th in the most recent rankings. In June of last year, Go was again ranked 15th while Swift was 18th. "Swift's meteoric rise has predictably slowed as it's entered the Top 20, but importantly has not stopped." O'Grady reasons that changes in the top 10 will be slow and longer term, with consolidation in the software development technologies space set to overtake fragmentation

Other languages of note in the index include Elixir, an Erlang-friendly language that jumped from 60th place in the mid-2015 rankings to 54th this time around; Rust, moving from 48th to 46th; and Microsoft's TypeScript, placing 31st after being 33rd in the last rankings. "It's not reasonable to expect any explosive growth from Typescript, but it wouldn't be surprising to see it get a bounce should it prove capable of moving into the twenties and becoming more widely visible. Regardless, it's become a language to watch."

RedMonk's rankings, published twice a year, are calculated differently from monthly language indexes published by Tiobe and PyPL, which assess popularity based on searches in search engines. Java has been leading in both indexes lately.

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