C pulls away from Java among top programming languages

Microsoft-centric languages C#, Transact-SQL, and Visual Basic.Net see a boost, but last month's surge for Groovy now cited as a glitch

The C language widened its lead over Java in this month's Tiobe Programming Community Index, which gauges language popularity. But a surprising surge by the Groovy language last month is now being attributed to a bug that has been fixed.

Again ranked in the top spot, C had an 18.155 percent share in the Tiobe index, while Java, in second place, was at 16.521 percent, for a gap of 1.634 percentage points. Last month, the gap was 1.139 percentage points (17.246 percent for C versus 16.107 percent for Java), and C already had increased its lead in the October index, compared to September. Tiobe Managing Director Paul Janssen, who compiles the report, said he did not know why C has surged out to a larger lead.

Groovy, which turned up in the 18th spot last month, slid back down to a number 32 ranking. "After a long discussion with one of the Tiobe index readers, it turned out that the data that is produced by one of the Chinese sites that we track is interpreted incorrectly by our algorithms. So this was a bug," Janssen said. "After we had fixed this bug, Groovy lost much of its ratings." The ratings slip takes Groovy from a 0.658 percent rating last month to 0.393 percent this month.

Tiobe also has witnessed improvements in popularity for Microsoft languages C#, Transact-SQL, and Visual Basic.Net. Janssen said this could be due to improved fortunes for the Microsoft Windows Phone platform, which is gaining in sales in European and emerging markets, according to one report published in April. JavaScript also is picking up steam, although it still gets only gets a 2.050 percent rating. "In my own opinion, JavaScript should do much better because every kind of Web development needs to make use of JavaScript nowadays," Janssen said. "So I expect JavaScript to grow further."

Tiobe bases its ratings on the number of skilled engineers, courses, and third-party vendors pertinent to each language, with the rating determined by assessing search engines like Google, Wikipedia, Yahoo, and Bing. "We run 'C programming' and 'Java programming' for 25 different search engines. This will return a number of hits per language per programming language. Per search engine, we can then calculate the market share for a programming language." Weighted averages are then factored in, gauging percentages of all hits for a language. Following C and Java in this month's index were Objective-C (9.406 percent), C++ (8.369 percent), C# (6.024 percent), PHP (5.379 percent), Visual Basic (4.396 percent), Python (3.110 percent), Transact-SQL (2.521 percent), and, in 10th place, JavaScript.

Another index this month, the PyPL Popularity of Programming Language index, cited improved fortunes for the Objective-C language, used to build applications for Apple's popular iOS devices. "The release of iOS 7 on September 18 has created a surge of interest in Objective-C and iOS tutorials," PyPL said.

PyPL gauges popularity by examining how often language tutorials are searched on in Google. Java ranks first in PyPL's index, with a 27 percent share, followed by PHP (13 percent), Python (10.3 percent), C# (10 percent), C++ (9.6 percent), C (8.6 percent), JavaScript (7.2 percent), Objective-C (6.6 percent), Visual Basic (3.3 percent), and Ruby (2.7 percent).

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