Surprise winner tops JavaScript and Objective-C in popularity

Transact-SQL claims victory over programming mainstays in Tiobe's language popularity index for 2013

The year 2013 saw so little movement in the popularity of different languages that Transact-SQL, which does not immediately come to mind as a hot, trendy programming language, picked up the largest gain in Tiobe's index of the most popular languages.

In the Tiobe Index for January 2014, Transact-SQL appears to be the biggest mover for 2013, gaining 0.98 percent, followed by Objective-C (0.81 percent) and F# (0.53 percent). Previously, the annual winner had gained many percentage points in a year. "It is a bit strange that Transact-SQL wins the award because its major application field, Microsoft's database engine SQL Server, is losing popularity. The general conclusion is that Transact-SQL won because actually not much happened in 2013," Tiobe said in its monthly bulletin.

Tiobe said language popularity has been influenced by external trends, such as mobile application and Web development. This has benefited Objective-C, for example, which is used for building applications for Apple's popular iOS devices. "In the Web development market, we don't see yet much happening despite all the HTML5 discussions. JavaScript should be the big winner but doesn't gain much popularity (quite stable around #9). JavaScript's alternatives are doing even much worse: CoffeeScript (#170), TypeScript (#205), and Dart (#124)."

Tiobe bases its ratings on a formula assessing the number of times specific languages are searched on in search engines like Yahoo, Google, and Wikipedia. The company changed its algorithm in late 2013, adding more search engines to the index by factoring in Alexa Web analytics and having the sum of all languages reach 100 percent, not just the top 50 languages. "As a result, most top languages dropped about 0.5 percent."

For the month of January, the top five spots remained as they were in December. The C language maintained its position as the most popular language in the index, turning up with a 17.871 market share, followed again by Java (16.499 percent), Objective-C (11.098 percent), C++ (7.548 percent), and C# (5.855 percent).

Meanwhile, the Pypl Popularity of Programming Index, which gauges popularity based on the frequency of searches of language tutorials in Google, named Python its "language of the year," with the biggest increase for 2013. Python was rated at 10.2 percent this month and 8.8 percent a year ago. But Java won the month, with a 26.2 percent share, followed by PHP (13.2 percent), Python, C# (9.6 percent), and C++ (8.9 percent). The Pypl index is linked to the pyDatalog site for Python programmers.

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