Perl language's popularity hits all-time low

The Tiobe language index shows that Python and Ruby have gained in popularity at Perl's expense

The Perl language, which dates back to the 1980s, has hit an all-time low in the Tiobe language popularity index this month, dropping to 13th place.

Ranked ninth in the Tiobe Index a year ago, Perl has seen a continuous decline in popularity since 2006, said Paul Jansen, managing director at Tiobe.

"Around 2006, many engineers changed from Perl to Python and Ruby as the scripting language to be used," Jansen said. Reasons for Perl's decline include its uncommon syntax and fewer possibilities for a developer to foul up when using the other languages, Jansen explained. Ruby and Python also have better support for Web development, including frameworks, he said.

Perl has been part of of the LAMP (Linux Apache MySQL Perl/PHP/Python) open source software stack that was prominent a few years ago. HubReports, which assesses the volume of code per language on the GitHub code-sharing site, still has Perl ranked 11th out of 119 languages. Tiobe reaches its assessment by looking at how often languages are searched on in popular search engines and sites such as Google, Bing, Yahoo, and Wikipedia., which advocates for Perl, cites version 5 of the language as having more than 26 years of development behind it. A member of several Perl Foundation committees disputed Tiobe's assessment. "Although the Tiobe stats seem to indicate a decline in the usage of Perl the picture is not a true representation," said Mark Keating, managing director at open source software developer Showcat Systems. Since 2000 there has been a steady increase in the number of Perl modules created each year and technical events held, Keating said. "The community is larger and more productive."

Also in this month's index, Microsoft's F# functional programming language slipped a bit to the 14th spot after rising to No. 12 last month. "Concerning F#, I know that engineers are very enthusiastic about F#, but I don't see it being used by multinationals in industrial products yet," Jansen said. "That is a precondition to become a solid top 10 player. So I think F# will remain between the top 10 and top 20 for some more time."

The C language again took the top spot in the index, with a rating of 17.631 percent, followed again by Java (17.348 percent). Rounding out the top 10 were: Objective-C (12.875 percent), C++ (6.137 percent), C# (4.82 percent), Visual Basic (3.441 percent), PHP (2.773 percent), Python (1.993 percent), JavaScript (1.75 percent) and Visual Basic.Net (1.748 percent). Perl's rating was 1.027 percent, while F# was 0.966. Ruby was ranked 11th at 1.745 percent.

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