Java and C hit all-time lows in Tiobe language popularity index

Java and C take a sharp tumble, while Ruby-like variant Crystal sees a sharp rise

Java and C continue to lead the Tiobe index of programming language popularity, but both dropped to all-time lows in the just-published August release of the index.

The longtime leaders have had to share the programming landscape with a growing number of language options attracting developers, which has caused their slippage in the index. Java’s rating this month was 12.961 percent, a drop of more than six percentage points since August 2016, while C’s rating was 6.477 percent, a year-over-year drop of nearly five points. Java’s rating last month was 13.774 percent while C was rated at 7.321 percent.

The Tiobe index measures language popularity using a formula that examines searches on languages in popular search engines such as Google, Wikipedia, and Bing. Tiobe believes Java might be alone in seeing a continuing decline going forward. “Most of the top 10 languages will not go lower, except for Java. It could drop another [five percentage points],” said Paul Jansen, managing director at software quality services provider Tiobe. “This is based on some experimental algorithms that we use to forecast what is going to happen.”

The Tiobe index top 10 for August:

  1. Java (12.961 percent share)
  2. C (6.477)
  3. C++ (5.55)
  4. C# (4.195)
  5. Python (3.692)
  6. Visual Basic .Net (2.569)
  7. PHP (2.293)
  8. JavaScript (2.098)
  9. Perl (1.995)
  10. Ruby (1.965)

Elsewhere in the August index, the Crystal language jumped from 60th place last month to 32nd place. While the statically typed language still has just a small share of the index, with a rating of .731 percent, Tiobe predicts further gains ahead for the language. “It uses Ruby syntax to make the move for Ruby programmers easier,” Jansen said. “Crystal is compiled, so it is much faster and uses less memory. Especially in industrial settings, these are huge benefits.” The language compiles to native code.

While it remains to be seen whether Crystal’s rise is a temporary blip or a long-term trend, Google’s Go language, which has been a rising star in the index, slipped this month, dropping from 10th place in July to 16th place, with a rating of 1.645. Jansen is not worried. Big gainers in the index often drop the month after. “But eventually, it will go back to its high position.”

Jansen is puzzled by eighth-place JavaScript, which had been seventh place a year ago. It also held the eighth spot last month. JavaScript, leveraged in client-side web development and running in browsers, should rank in the top five, he believes. Jansen reasoned that the number of lines per project written in JavaScript is relatively low. “Nobody is programming a software system completely in JavaScript. It is always one of the side languages.” Jansen also expected Microsoft’s JavaScript alternative, TypeScript, to rank higher, in the top 50, but it sits in the 120th spot. The language is rising in popularity, however.

The alternative PyPL Popularity of Programming Language Index, which examines searches on the volume of language tutorial searches in Google, has the following languages in its top 10 this month:

  1. Java (22.7 percent share)
  2. Python (16.3)
  3. PHP (8.9)
  4. C# (8.3)
  5. JavaScript (8)
  6. C++ (6.6)
  7. C (6.4)
  8. R (3.6)
  9. Objective-C (3.6)
  10. Swift (2.8)

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