Apple's iOS strength prompted Objective-C language's growth in 2011

The language used to build apps for the iPad and iPhone has a head of steam going into 2012

Demonstrating continued momentum for Apple's iOS platform for mobile devices, the Objective-C language for building iOS applications bested other languages when it came to growth in popularity last year, according to monthly assessment of languages.

Market share for Objective-C for this month is nearly 6.92 percent; it had been slightly more than 3 percent in January 2011, according to the Tiobe Programming Community index for January, which was released over the weekend. "The major cause of this is the continuing success of the iPhone and the iPad, which both are mainly implemented in Objective-C," Tiobe said in its bulletin. Objective-C was given Tiobe's programming language award for 2011, determined by the language gaining the most market share for the year. The language had been a close runner-up for two years.

[ Despite Objective-C's rise, Java has remained the most popular language in Tiobe's surveys. | Get the latest insights and news on software development from InfoWorld's Developer World newsletter. ]

Tiobe also found significant growth for C#, C, and JavaScript in 2011. C grew to 16.98 percent, up from 15.83 a year ago. C#'s market share was 8.78 percent (it had been 6.23 percent in January), while JavaScript grew from 1.59 percent market share a year ago to a 2.32 percent share for January. As anticipated by Tiobe a month ago, C# overtook C++ this month, with C++ registering a market share of 8.06 percent.

While JavaScript certainly has plenty of mind share in the software development space, the language has a lower rating than might be expected for several reasons. "You can't build complete applications with it. JavaScript is always used in conjunction with other programming languages," said Tiobe CEO Paul Jansen. "Nowadays a lot of JavaScript is generated instead of programmed, for instance in Google's GWT (Google Web Toolkit)."

While still the top programming language overall, Java dropped from 17.77 percent in January 2011 to 17.48 percent this month. Java was used by 17.56 percent of developers last month, according to Tiobe. Python, with 6.27 market share a year ago, saw its share diminish to 3.22 percent for January 2012. PHP saw its share drop from 7.84 percent a year ago to 5.7 percent, while Visual Basic dropped from a 5.9 percent share to 4.5 percent. The overall top 10 languages for the month in order were: Java, C, C#, C++, Objective-C, PHP, Visual Basic, Python, Perl, and JavaScript.

Perl, which saw a 0.08 percent drop in 2011, is being superseded by newer scripting languages like Python and Ruby, Jansen said. PHP appears too slow and insecure for larger websites, said Jansen. He described the drop for Python as surprising.

While Tiobe doubts a new language will hit the top 10 in 2012, it cites possible candidates, including F#, Groovy, and R. "For instance, the R language entered the top 20 this month for the first time. This language for statisticians is becoming the major programming language in its field," Tiobe said.

Tiobe's index is based on an assessment of the number of skilled engineers worldwide, courses, and third-party vendors pertaining to particular languages, with popular websites like Google, Bing, Yahoo, Wikipedia, and Amazon used to calculate the ratings.

This article, "Apple's iOS strength prompted Objective-C language's growth in 2011," was originally published at Follow the latest developments in business technology news and get a digest of the key stories each day in the InfoWorld Daily newsletter. For the latest developments in business technology news, follow on Twitter.

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