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C++ has had its share of ups and downs over the years in terms of popularity. But compared with its status last year, it’s now officially the fastest growing among all languages covered by software QA automation company TIOBE. For its new September 2020 Programming Community index, TIOBE gave C++ a rating of 7.11%, earning it a 1.48% increase over September 2019, the biggest gain among all languages for the month.

SEE: Top 5 programming languages for systems admins to learn (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

Image: TIOBE

Looking at its checkered history, TIOBE noted that C++ peaked in August 2003 with a rating of 17.53%, nudging it toward second place and helping it win the award for programming language of the year in 2003. But things went downhill from there.

After 2005, C++ was no longer in the top 10% and took home an all-time low rating of 4.55% in 2017. After a shaky 2019, the language seems to be catching on again, and TIOBE offers one theory why.

“I think that the new C++20 standard might be one of the main causes for this,” TIOBE CEO Paul Jansen said in the latest report. “Especially because of the new modules feature that is going to replace the dreadful include mechanism. C++ beats other languages with a positive trend such as R (+1.33%) and C# (+1.18%).”

On a more dour note, Java’s popularity has been sinking, with the language down by 3.18% since September 2019, the biggest drop in this month’s index. But even with the decline, Java remains in second place, behind C though ahead of Python, C++, C#, Visual Basic, JavaScript, PHP, R, and SQL.

Updated each month, TIOBE’s Programming Community index measures the popularity of programming languages. As TIOBE stresses, the index is not a reflection of the best programming languages or the ones that have the most lines of code. Instead, the ratings are based on the number of skilled engineers, courses, and third-party vendors focused on a particular language as well as the hits from popular search engines such as Google, Bing, Yahoo, Wikipedia, Amazon, YouTube, and Baidu.

For developers, the index is also a useful way to determine if your programming skills are up to date and to help you choose which language you might want to adopt when diving into a new software project.