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Python maintains its number one spot on the TIOBE Programming Community Index of most popular programming languages this month. The index has recently shuffled around due to dark horse, Go, which moved into the number 10 position.

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Go language reaches competitive 10th spot

TIOBE Software CEO Paul Jansen pointed out that Go receives Google backing, which increases confidence in the language. Go was invented inside of Google due to engineers’ frustration with C++.

“Go is not revolutionary, but its strength is in combining the right features. It has built-in concurrency and garbage collection, is statically typed and has good performance,” wrote Jansen.

SEE: Python Crash Course (TechRepublic Academy)

Docker and Kubernetes both have Go development in their pedigrees, Jansen added.

However, the number 10 spot on the TIOBE Index is volatile, and Jansen says the question of whether Go will stay in the top 10 is an open and “interesting” one.

TIOBE named Go Language of the Year in 2009 and 2016.

March 2023 top 10 list

Most of the top 10 programming languages held on to their February spots in March, though SQL and PHP swapped spots to land in number eight and number nine, respectively.

Python rose slightly in the TIOBE estimation with a 0.57% point increase. In second place, C maintained its spot with a 1.67% point increase. Java held on to third place with a 2.37% point increase.

The complete top 10 list for March also includes C++, C#, Visual Basic, JavaScript, SQL, PHP and Go.

What is the TIOBE Programming Community Index?

The TIOBE Programming Community Index is a leaderboard of programming languages ranked by TIOBE’s points system for the popularity of each language. The index is updated once a month. Ratings are determined by the community of engineers, courses and third-party vendors. Popular search engines such as Google, Bing, Yahoo, Wikipedia, Amazon, YouTube and Baidu are also used to calculate the ratings. TIOBE notes that the index does not measure “the best” programming language or the language in which most lines of code have been written. Rather, it is a measure of general popularity and awareness.

TIOBE positions its index as a good tool for checking whether a professional programmer’s skills are still up to date or for making a strategic decision about what programming language one should adopt when building a new software system.

TIOBE Index for February 2023: Python holds top spot

Python is number one again on the TIOBE Programming Community index, which ranks the popularity of programming languages. February 2023’s top two programming languages are Python and C.

“Python is great for data mining, AI programming, statistical programs, research projects, web sites, small glue programs and learning how to program,” said Paul Jansen, CEO of TIOBE Software, in the monthly report. “The second language, C, is the best language for writing small, embedded, safety-critical and high performance programs.”

SEE: Python Crash Course (TechRepublic Academy)

Ranked three on this list is C++, which has a stellar year-over-year increase of 5.93% — that is a very big jump compared to about 1% year-over-year growth for the other most popular programming languages. With all the requirements of C but more suitable to writing a large software system, C++ proves it’s still a juggernaut in terms of awareness among professional developers.

C++ won the TIOBE programming language of the year award for 2022; Python had won the two previous years, swapping places with C every few years since 2017. C++ last gained the top spot in 2003.

Other February 2023 findings

Other notable findings in the February 2023 TIOBE Index include C++ and Java swapping their places in third and fourth, and SQL rising from eighth to 10th place over the last year.

Behind Python’s significant 15.49% rating, up 0.16%, is C at 15.39%, up 1.31%. It was followed by C++ at 13.94%, up 5.93%, and Java at 13.21%, up 1.07%.

Rounding out TIOBE’s top 10 programming languages are C#, Visual Basic, JavaScript, SQL, Assembly Language and PHP.

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Two lesser-known programming languages, Scratch and Rust, have risen significantly in popularity and received a special shout out in the February update to the index. These are notable for their specificity, Jansen said.

“It is important to understand that every programming language has its own strengths and weaknesses and usually excels in certain domains,” he said. “Take for instance the 2 new booming languages in the TIOBE Index top 20: Scratch and Rust. Scratch is meant to learn programming and is very popular in elementary and secondary schools, whereas Rust is a safe and high performance programming language for experts. In other words, they serve different purposes.”

Late 2022 updates

In the time between our last look at the Index and February 2023, the major change is that there has been more attention given to high performance systems, said Jansen. This is shown by the growth in C++, which gained 3% to move up to position number three in the index, and Rust, which entered the top 20 list within the last half year.

August 2022: Python ‘going through the roof’

Python continues to commandeer the TIOBE Programming Community Index. Python gained another 2% in August and is now at an all-time high of 15.42% market share, making it “unstoppable,” the site said.

It is not easy to find a field of programming today where Python is not used extensively, noted Jansen. Python’s main appeal is in its ease of use, he added.

“Most languages have a steep learning curve — except for Python,’’ Jansen said. “Hence, lots of newcomers start with programming Python. It is simple, well-structured, easy to install and there are a lot of libraries available. So all the non-critical programming stuff can easily be done by Python. That makes it so popular nowadays.”

But Jansen added that “there is somewhere a ceiling for Python” because it is dynamically typed and too slow. “Since it is an interpreted language that can unexpectedly throw a runtime error, it will not end up soon in safety-critical systems,” he said.

This is why C and C++ are gaining momentum right now, Jansen added.

June 2022: Top three continue their dominance

In the June 2022 edition of the TIOBE index update, there remained very little change at the top of the rankings, as Python, C and Java kept their stranglehold on the top three spots.

“Last month, not much happened in the TIOBE index. The top four languages — Python, C, Java and C++ — have a market share of almost 50% together now,” said Jansen. “We are halfway through the year, and the biggest candidates for TIOBE’s language of the year 2022 are Python, C, C++ and C# so far.”

The most movement came toward the bottom of the rankings, as Fortran and MATLAB once again entered the top 20, supplanting Lua and Prolog. Lua and Prolog each fell significantly in the rankings from the May edition, with Lua falling six spots all the way to 24 and Prolog dropping from the top 20 to 25th in June. In the middle of the rankings, programming language, R, saw a large drop as well, falling from 13 last month to 19 in June.

Classic Visual Basic benefited most from R’s receding, jumping from 15 to 13 over the last 30 days. Ruby also saw a surge in its June’s standings, jumping from 19 to 15 as part of the shakeup.

“Last month, not much happened in the TIOBE index,” Jansen said. “We don’t foresee any of the relatively new and hot languages such as Rust, Dart, Kotlin or TypeScript approaching the top 20. Let’s hope for more exciting news in August.”

May 2022: C# poised for a jump into the top three?

While there was not a ton of movement from April 2022 to May 2022, C# as a programming language seems to be picking up steam. C# was singled out by TIOBE CEO, Paul Jansen, as a contender to make a move into the top three of the rankings, replacing C, which currently sits in second in the May rankings. One other contender to move into the top of the heap was C++, which currently sits in the fourth spot in the top 20.

“If we compare the current TIOBE Index rankings to one year ago (May 2021), C# is gaining the most popularity of all programming languages by far. Its ranking has increased almost 2% for the last 12 months. C# is one of the most mature programming languages in existence, supporting many modern programming paradigms,” Jansen said. “Until recently, its only disadvantage was that its Linux support was questionable, but this has changed rapidly the last couple of years. So chances are high that C# might enter the TIOBE Index top three by replacing C. Another serious contender for this top three position is C++. Its long-term trend, boosted by C++20, is definitely upward.”

One minor change from April to May was R falling a bit in the rankings, from 11 to 13. Jumping into those spots were Delphi/Object Pascal (11th) and Swift (12th). Elsewhere, the rankings remained relatively the same outside of a few minor adjustments, but it remains to be seen whether C# or C++ are able to supplant C in the top three.

April 2022: MATLAB falls in rankings

The release of April’s edition of the TIOBE Programming Language Index of the most popular programming languages saw a few marked changes across the board, with MATLAB notably continuing its fall out of the top 20. In March, MATLAB ranked as the 15th most popular programming language for developers before falling to the 20th spot this month. Python remains the top programming language, according to Jansen.

MATLAB’s steady decline

The biggest takeaway from April’s rankings is the continuous slide of MATLAB, the programming language best known for its use in matrix manipulations, function and data plotting, algorithm implementations, user interface creation and interfacing with programs written in other languages. MATLAB includes functions and developments for multiple disciplines through MATLAB Add-On Toolboxes. Some Toolbox examples for MATLAB include 5G, communications analysis and testing, and audio.

“MATLAB is about to drop out of the top 20 for the first time in more than 10 years,” said Jansen. “The MATLAB programming language is mainly used in the numerical analysis domain. It is often combined with Simulink models, which are from the same MathWorks company. Although MATLAB has a biannual release cycle, the language doesn’t evolve that much. And since MATLAB licenses are rather expensive, alternatives are catching up quickly.”

The alternatives mentioned by Jansen are becoming too much for MATLAB to compete with, as the rivals include powerhouse, Python, which reigns as the leading programming language once again, and Julia, which has a focus on numerical analysis. Julia moved from 32 to 26 in the April edition of the TIOBE Index.

Winners and losers

Python not only kept the number one ranking among programming languages from last month, but also saw the biggest increase in usage from April 2021 to 2022: a 2.88% increase year over year, moving from the third-most utilized language to number one.

Elsewhere in the rankings, PHP found itself falling two spots from its March ranking, declining from the eighth spot to 10th. Because of PHP’s small dip, assembly language was able to nab the eighth place in TIOBE’s index, with SQL moving up from 10th to ninth.

Another uptick, this time on the outside of the top 20, was Visual FoxPro, moving up four spots from 27th to 23rd. Visual FoxPro is a data-centric procedural programming language with object-oriented programming features.

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