Objective-C regains its mojo in Tiobe language index

The language for iOS apps moves back up to third place after slip to fourth place last month

After a slip in one language popularity assessment last month, Objective-C has clawed its way back to being the third most popular language in that index. But a second, rival index has Objective-C ranked eighth.

Best known as the language of choice for developing apps to run on the iPhone and iPad, Objective-C was again ranked behind C and Java in the Tiobe Programming Community Index for May 2013. This month, Tiobe has C turning up in 18.729 percent of searches, followed by Java (16.914 percent), Objective-C (10.428 percent), and C++ (9.198 percent).

Last month, Objective-C slipped to fourth place with 9.598 percent, while C++ took the third spot with 9.714 percent. Tiobe attributed the drop to a decline in popularity for the iPad and iPhone caused by a surging Samsung platform.

"Yes, such swaps can happen," says Paul Jansen, Tiobe managing director. "However, I still think that the peak of 11 percent at the end of 2012 will remain Objective-C's top for a long time. The main reason is the relatively declining popularity of the iPhone. As long as Objective-C's only main platform is iOS, its popularity will be vulnerable to such changes that have nothing to do with the programming language itself."

The Tiobe index gauges popularity by assessing the level of skilled engineers, courses, and third-party vendors pertinent to a particular language. Assessments of popular search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo are used to calculate ratings, along with factoring in other sites, such as Wikipedia and YouTube.

The alternative PyPL Popularity of Progamming Language index, which gauges popularity by analyzing how often language tutorials are searched on in Google, has Objective-C ranked eighth, with Java, Python, and PHP holding the top spots. Jansen is surprised to see Objective-C showing up in third place in Tiobe's index, given its limited application domain. "Based on the number of applications I see at our customer sites, I would say that it should be number 6 or 7 or so."

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