Software

Fastest-growing programming language? Python's popularity is still climbing

The rising popularity of Python as a programming language shows little sign of abating.

Python continues to climb the ranks of the world's most popular programming languages.

Following last year's finding by developer hub Stack Overflow that Python was the world's fastest-growing programming language, Python has now claimed fourth place in the TIOBE index for the first time.

TIOBE describes its index as "an indicator of the popularity of programming languages". The index counts the number of engineers, courses and vendors for languages worldwide based on results from major search engines.

SEE: Getting started with Python: A list of free resources .

"Programming language Python is getting very close to the top 3 of the TIOBE index. If Python surpasses C++ and becomes number 3, this will be an all time high for the scripting language of Guido van Rossum," according to an analysis by TIOBE.

The current machine-learning boom has fuelled a sharp uptick in the number of developers learning Python. Outside of the language's use in big-data analytics, Python's versatility is evident in its range of uses, from web and desktop apps to orchestrating system operations.

"The Python programming language started as a successor of Perl to write build scripts and all kind of glue software. But gradually it entered also other domains. Nowadays it is quite common to have Python running in large embedded systems," says the analysis.

TIOBE also highlights Python's growing use in teaching, citing data that Python featured in 70% of introductory programming courses at US universities in 2014.

As a first language Python has many positives. Python code is relatively easy to read and understand, supports multiple programming paradigms, has a wide range of software libraries that can be dropped into code, and can be scaled to large applications. There are many high-quality free tutorials, courses and videos available online.

Obviously every language also has its cons, and Python is criticized for its slow performance, being a poor choice for mobile development and limitations in how it handles database access.

Python was also placed at number 3 in the 2018 Redmonk Programming Rankings, which order languages by the number of pull requests for code repositories on GitHub and tags on questions on the programming Q&A site StackOverflow.

TIOBE predicts "it is very likely that Python will enter the top 3 and even might become the new number 1 in the long run".

tiobeaug18.jpg

The latest TIOBE index.

Image: TIOBE

The big takeaways for tech leaders:

  • For the first time Python has claimed fourth place in the TIOBE index, which measures programming language popularity.
  • Python is increasingly used to teach programming, featuring in 70% of introductory programming courses at US universities as of 2014.

About Nick Heath

Nick Heath is chief reporter for TechRepublic. He writes about the technology that IT decision makers need to know about, and the latest happenings in the European tech scene.

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