Microsoft-backed F# language surges in popularity

The functional programming language, ranked 69th a year ago, threatens to crash the top 10 in Tiobe's rankings

The Microsoft-backed F# functional programming language is gaining traction, with the platform showing a meteoric year-over-year rise on the Tiobe Programming Community Index gauging language popularity.

Ranked 69th on the index a year ago, F# has risen to the 12th spot in this month's rankings, with a 1.216 percent rating. As the index headline notes, "F# is on its way to the Top 10."

Microsoft Research's F# page says the language is object-oriented and enables developers to write simple code to solve complex problems. "This simple and pragmatic language has particular strengths in data-oriented programming, parallel I/O programming, parallel CPU programming, scripting, and algorithmic development," Microsoft said. F# originated at Microsoft Research; the F# Software Foundation has been formed to advance the language. The Microsoft Cloud Platform Tools group technically is in charge of F#.

While a precise definition of a functional language has been subject to debate, these languages rely on mathematical functions. A Microsoft researcher has emphasized functional programming languages' immutable representation of data. Scala, ranked 42nd this month, also offers functional language capabilities. Java, which has toggled between the top two spots in the index, is adding functional capabilities with Java 8 in about two weeks, via lambda expressions.

Tiobe looks at searches on specific languages on search engines like Google, Yahoo, and Bing, as well as sites like Yahoo and Wikipedia. Ratings are based on the number of skilled engineers, courses and third-party vendors pertinent to a language. C again tops the index, with a 17.535 percent rating, followed by Java at 16.406 percent. Both languages receded from last month's index, when C had a 18.334 percent share and Java had 17.316 percent. Objective-C was rated in the third spot this month at 12.143 percent, followed by C++ at 6.313 percent and C# at 5.572 percent. Rounding out the top 10 were PHP (3.698 percent), Visual Basic (2.955 percent), Python (2.021 percent), JavaScript (1.899 percent), and Visual Basic.Net (1.862 percent). All 10 spots stayed the same as last month. (Transact-SQL was rated 11th, at 1.477 percent.) Visual Basic.Net made a splash last month, when it climbed into the top 10 for the first time.

The alternative PyPL Popularity of Programming Language index, which looks at how often language tutorials are searched on in Google, kept Java, with a 26.1 percent share, and PHP, with a 13.5 percent share, in its top two spots. Like the Tiobe index, there was no movement at all in the index's top 10 from last month. Following Java and PHP were Python (10.2 percent), C# (10 percent), C++ (8.6 percent), C (8.2 percent), JavaScript (7.9 percent), Objective-C (7 percent), Ruby (3.1 percent,) and Visual Basic (3.5 percent).

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