There's fresh evidence that Python is attracting new learners faster than any other programming language.
Since programming Q&A hub Stack Overflow last year declared that Python was the "fastest-growing programming language", Python has been rapidly ascending various language rankings, from the TIOBE Index to IEEE Spectrum's.
Now Python has climbed to the top spot in the PYPL Popularity of Programming Language Index, which measures the proportion of people searching for programming-language tutorials, based on data from Google Trends.
Python-related queries account for almost one quarter of all searches for tutorials, according to the PYPL rankings, with the proportion of Python searches up five percent over the past year, and 14.6 percent over the past five years.
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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.
However, beyond Python's appeal for data science, fans of the language say its success also stems from its broad range of robust software libraries and how easy it is to learn.
Not faring so well in attracting new learners is the venerable back-end web scripting language PHP.
While PHP is still fifth in PYPL's rankings, accounting for just over seven percent of tutorial searches, the proportion of searches has dropped 1.6 percent over the past year and 6.7 percent over the past five years — more than any other language.
A longstanding and often-criticized language, PHP is widely used across the web to help serve web pages and apps.
Despite garnering harsh criticism for shortcomings in its design, PHP has survived for decades, and still underpins popular content management systems such as WordPress, as well as still being used by major sites such as Google and, until recently, Facebook.
PHP may have suffered a precipitous drop in the PYPL rankings, but the language's widespread nature means demand for developers is unlikely to go away, and its most recent release, PHP 7, introduces some long-awaited modern language features.
It's worth noting that each programming ranking league table only gives an indication of popularity, and in this instance the PYPL rankings likely says more about the number of learners, rather than overall usage.
The big takeaways for tech leaders:
- Interest in learning the web-scripting language PHP appears to have taken a downturn over the past five years.
- The programming language Python appears to be the most popular among new learners, according to the PYPL rankings.
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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.