Groovy breaks into top 20 list of programming languages

Dynamic JVM language claims small share in Tiobe's popularity index, but ranking jumps dramatically over the past year

While the Groovy language registered only a minuscule number in this month's Tiobe index of programming language popularity, it nonetheless broke into the list's top 20 languages for the first time, ranking in the 18th spot.

Groovy is a dynamic language for the Java Virtual Machine whose proponents cite such benefits as developer productivity, simplified testing, and support for domain-specific languages. Groovy, however, only turned up in 0.658 percent of Tiobe's searches used to compile the index. 

"Yes, being part of the top 20 with a percentage of 0.658 is indeed not much," said Tiobe Managing Director Paul Jansen. "But it is more about the move Groovy made. Last month, it was at position 22 and last year it was at position 53. There is no particular reason for the sudden interest in Groovy. I see it being used more often together with Java at our customer sites."

Holding the top spot in this month's index was the C language, whose lead over second-ranked Java jumped considerably. While C showed up in 16.975 percent of hits per search engine last month and Java showed up in 16.154 percent, this month's index rates C at 17.246 percent and Java at 16.107 percent.

"The reason why C is building up a lead is that C is used everywhere in the programming world, especially in small devices," said Jansen. "And the number of small devices is still growing. Even my toothbrush contains software nowadays, and it is probably implemented in C. So the rankings of C will remain stable for many years." Oracle, meanwhile, has its own embedded computing ambitions for Java.

Java, Jansen said, has had much more competition in the fields in which it operates. Groovy would be one of those competitors, he adds. "It is the mobile development field that saves Java at the moment, thanks to the success of Android. I am really curious whether Java version 8, which will be available somewhere in 2014, will stop the gradual decline of Java's popularity."

Ranking third in the Tiobe index with an 8.992 percent rating was Objective-C, best known as the language used for building apps to run on Apple's iPad and iPhone devices. C++ came in fourth, at 8.664 percent, and PHP in fifth, at 6.094. Tiobe calculates its rankings by assessing search engines and sites such as Google, Bing, Yahoo, and Wikipedia to determine the number of skilled engineers, courses, and third-party vendors pertinent to each language.

While Tiobe's Jansen sees Java declining, the alternative PyPL index still has it way out in front this month. The PyPL Popularity of Programming Language Index, which only looks at searches on language tutorials in Google, gives Java a 26.8 percent share, far ahead of second-place PHP, at 13.2 percent. In third was Python (9.8 percent), followed by C# (9.5 percent) and C++ (9.1 percent). C comes in sixth in the PyPl index (8.4 percent).

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