JavaScript ascends as Objective-C falls in language popularity

Monthly Tiobe index sees JavaScript reaching new heights. Objective-C? Java? C? Not so much

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JavaScript has ascended to its highest position ever in the monthly Tiobe Index of language popularity, while Objective-C is on a downward slope.

The index, which gauges popularity based on formula assessing searches on languages in a variety of search engines, has JavaScript ranked in the sixth position in the February index, surpassing PHP. "JavaScript has become the language of the Internet," Paul Jansen, Tiobe managing director, said in an email. "Almost all 'real' programming at the client side of Web applications is done in JavaScript. This market is still growing because there is huge demand for more interactivity of websites, and JavaScript has hardly any competition there."

Last month, Tiobe named JavaScript its Language of the Year for 2014 based on its improvement in ratings year-to-year. This month, JavaScript scored a rating of 3.514 percent, as compared to 1.934 percent a year ago.

Objective-C, which has been Apple's principal language for building applications for its popular iOS mobile devices, has not been faring so well in the index lately. "Objective-C lost more than 5 percent in one year's time and is now back at fourth position behind C++. Objective-C was in third place in the Tiobe index for more than 2.5 years," a report accompanying the index said. The language has fallen to a 6.024 percent rating after garnering an 11.34 rating the same time last year.

Jansen attributes Objective-C's decline to an obvious culprit -- Apple's June 2014 introduction of the Swift language -- and to the growing popularity of the rival Google Android platform. "The strange thing is that Swift is gaining traction but not as much as Objective-C is dropping," he said. "Some market share of Objective-C might also go to Java because Android is getting more popular than iOS."

Swift is ranked 27th on the Tiobe list, with a rating of 0.723 percent, but the rival PyPL Popularity of Programming Language index, which analyzes how often language tutorials are searched on in Google, has Swift garnering the highest increase in popularity for last year and was thus named PyPL's Programming Language of the Year 2014. Swift finished 12th in the PyPL index this month, with a 2.5 percent share.

Elsewhere in the February Tiobe index, C and Java remained in the top two spots but have experienced drop-offs in the past year. C's share, which was 18.34 percent a year ago, was 16.488 percent this month. Java, with a 17.315 rating at this time last year, has dropped to 15.345 percent. Tiobe, Jansen said, sees the dominance of only a small set of languages as a waning trend. "There are more players becoming popular."

Rounding out this month's index, C++ finished third with a 6.612 percent share, followed by Objective-C, C# (5.738 percent), JavaScript, PHP (3.17 percent), Python (2.882 percent), Visual Basic.Net (2.026 percent), and Visual Basic (1.718 percent). Meanwhile, The PyPL index this month had Java first with a 24.7 percent share, with PHP a distant second (11.7 percent), followed by Python (10.6 percent), C# (8.9 percent), C++ (8.2 percent), C (7.8 percent), JavaScript (7.2 percent), Objective-C (6.1 percent), Matlab (3 percent), and R (2.7 percent).

Copyright © 2015 IDG Communications, Inc.