Ruby again shines in language popularity

The language jumps seven spots from a year ago in Tiobe's index, while C's popularity takes a big hit

Ruby again shines in language popularity

Once faltering, Ruby is now making a comeback in language popularity. In this month's Tiobe index, it notches a rating of 2.338 percent, which is good for eighth place and equals its highest ranking ever, achieved in December 2008.

Tiobe's index gauges language popularity based on a formula that examines searches related to specific languages in search engines such as Google. Bing, Yahoo, and Wikipedia. It rated Ruby 15th a year ago, ninth last month, and 10th in March.

Ruby previously enjoyed a surge in popularity in 2006, when it and the accompanying Ruby on Rails Web framework were about to "conquer the world." Then, scalability became a problem for Ruby, but the language's popularity started to grow again at the beginning of last year.

The language itself is becoming more mature, Paul Jansen, managing director of software quality services provider Tiobe, said. A recent study by coding educator Course Report found Ruby was the most frequently taught language at its boot camps, Jansen said. He also sees the release of improved versions of Ruby having helped it, noting that "this time it seems to be a more sustainable growth based on actual usage of the language instead of shouting."

Conversely in the May index, the C language has dropped 3.62 points from a year ago; it is now rated at 13.223 percent. Nonetheless, it remains the second-most-popular language in the index, behind only Java, which has a rating of 20.956 percent -- 4.09 points more than in May 2015. "C is indeed getting behind," even closing in on a new all-time low, Jansen said. "The C programming language is only used in embedded software and games nowadays, but in most cases C++ is taking over [as] the preferred language there." C++ is the third-most-popular language in the index, with a rating of 6.698 percent.

PHP, ranked ninth a year ago, was ranked sixth this month, with a rating of 2.992 percent. "The jump of PHP is not that big," said Jansen. "It jumped three positions because JavaScript, Visual Basic .Net and Objective-C dropped, not because PHP gained a lot of popularity."

Objective-C was in a virtual dead heat with its successor language, Swift. Objective-C was rated 14th, with a rating of 1.597 percent (down 3.8 points from a year ago) while Swift was 15, rated 1.593 percent, up 0.48 point from the same time last year. "Swift will eventually win, but this might take a couple of years. Objective-C won't come back, that's for sure." Apple's Swift has even made its way to Windows, albeit with an unofficial port at this point.

The D language ranked 20th with a rating of 0.975 percent. But Jansen recommends maintaining perspective. "I won't put too much into the entrance of D in the Tiobe index top 20. Let's see whether it will remain in the top 20."

Finishing up the top five in the index were C#, with a rating of 4.481 percent, and Python (3.789). The alternative PyPL Popularity of Programming Language Index, which assesses popularity based on how often language tutorials are searched on in Google, had Java ranked first, with a 24 percent share, followed by Python (12.4), PHP (10.6), C# (8.9), and JavaScript (7.5).

Copyright © 2016 IDG Communications, Inc.

InfoWorld Technology of the Year Awards 2023. Now open for entries!