Go tops Java, C, Python for programming language of the year

The Google-grown language bests Dart and Perl, while Java, C, and Python slip

Go is top climber in language popularity index
Jean Beaufort (CC0)

Google's Go was 2016's biggest gainer in Tiobe's index of language popularity, as the top titles on the list all slipped year over year.

Claiming the crown of Tiobe's programming language of the year, Go gained 2.16 percentage points from a year ago, with a rating of 2.325 percent. It was ranked in 13th place this month and was in 54th place in January 2016. Tiobe rankings are based on a formula assessing searches on languages in popular search engines such as Google, Bing, and Wikipedia.

"The main drivers behind Go's success are its ease of learning and pragmatic nature," a report accompanying the monthly index said. "It is not about theoretical concepts, such as virtual inheritance and nomads, but about hands-on experience. Apart from that, Go has built-in support for concurrency programming." Tiobe, which provides software quality services, sees more of its own customers adopting Go in an industrial setting. "That is a good indicator," the company said.

Trending downward were the index's top five languages: last year's winner, Java (17.278 percent, down 4.19 percentage points from January 2016), C (9.349, down 6.69 points), C++ (6.301, down .61 points), C# (4.039, down 0.67 point), and even trendy Python (3.465, down 0.39 point).

"This [slippage for the top languages] is indeed interesting," said Paul Jansen, managing director at Tiobe. "The reason is that the second tier of languages is getting more popular, so the pack is getting closer to each other. There is no language that covers all domains." Increasingly, companies and software projects themselves need multiple languages, and for C, Jansen has expressed his belief that it has slipped because of a lack of mind share in mobile or web development, not having a single vendor behind it to push it and not evolving much.

Following Go in the race for language with the greatest gains last year were Google's one-time JavaScript replacement, Dart, which grew 0.95 percent, and Perl, at 0.91 point. Google has charted out plans for Dart to fit it more for mobile development, while Perl was the subject of a major new version, Perl 6, in late December 2015. Dart jumped from 26th place a year ago to 17th this month, with a rating of 1.72 percent. Perl came in eighth place this month rated at 2.75 percent; it was in 11th place a year ago.

Finishing out Tiobe's top 10 this month were Visual Basic .Net (2.96 percent), JavaScript (2.85) in the sixth and seventh places, and, in ninth and 10th places respectively, Assembly (2.701) and PHP (2.564). But PHP fares much better in the alternative PyPL Popularity of Programming Language index, which assesses popularity based on how often language tutorials are searched on in Google. PHP came in third place in PyPL, with a share of 9.7 percent. Java topped PyPL's index with a share of 23.1 percent, while Python came in second place with a 14.4 percent share. From fourth to 10th were: C# (8.4), JavaScript (7.7), C (7.1), C++ (7), Objective-C (4.4), R (3.4), and Swift (3).

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