Measuring programming language popularity

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

It is difficult to determine which programming languages are "most widely used" because the meaning of the term varies by context. One language may occupy the most programmer-hours, another may have the most lines of code, a third may utilize the most CPU time, and so on. Some languages are very popular for particular kinds of applications: for example, Python for machine learning, Java for backend server development, C in embedded applications and operating systems; JavaScript in web development and other languages for many kinds of applications.


Various counts have been proposed to indicate a language's popularity, each subject to a different bias over what is measured. These counts include the number of:


Different Indices calculate a programming language's popularity based on different metrics. For example: The IEEE Spectrum publishes the rankings by taking the data points from an array of matrices including Google, GitHub, Reddit, and Twitter to calculate the overall rank for the 2021 list with keeping in the account factors like job demands, Reliability, and Current trends that sum up to say Python is the top programming language of 2021.[12] Several indices have been published:

  • The monthly TIOBE Programming Community Index has been published since 2001, showing the top 10 languages graphically, the top 20 languages with a rating and delta, and the top 50 languages by rating.[13] The numbers are based on searching the Web with certain phrases that include language names and counting the numbers of hits returned. In 2021, the top ranking languages included: C, Python, Java, C++, and C#.[13]
  • The PYPL PopularitY of Programming Language index[14] is an indicator based on Google Trends, reflecting the developers' searches for "<programming language> tutorial", instead of what pages are available.[14] It shows the popularity trends since 2004, worldwide or separated for 5 countries. As of 2021, the top ranking were: Python, Java, JavaScript, and C#.[14]
  • The RedMonk Programming Language Rankings[15] are derived from a correlation of programming traction on GitHub (usage) and Stack Overflow (discussion). As of June 2021, the top ranking were: JavaScript, Python, Java, PHP, CSS.[16]
  • Trendy Skills[17] searches and extracts from popular advertising websites the skills and technologies that employers are seeking and classifies them in categories, one of which is Programming Languages. It displays trends for one or more skills or categories during specified time ranges. Data is also accessible via a public API, so anyone can generate their own statistics.
  • Indeed 2016 survey combed through job listings, identifying mentions of programming languages.[18]
  • Stack Overflow's annual Developer Survey which polls site users. In 2021, the most popular were: JavaScript, HTML/CSS, Python, and SQL.[19]
  • IEEE Spectrum's annual ranking of top programming languages. In 2021 it used 11 metrics from 8 sources: GitHub, Google, Twitter, Stack Overflow, Reddit, Hacker News, Career Builder, and IEEE Xplore Digital Library,[20][21] according to which the top languages were Python, Java, C, C++, and JavaScript.[22] The interactive ranking app[20] allows adjustment of each metric's weight, and also filtering languages by "type" (Web, Mobile, Enterprise, Embedded).


  1. ^ "SSL/Computer Weekly IT salary survey: finance boom drives IT job growth". September 2007. Retrieved 14 June 2013.
  2. ^ "Jobs Tractor language trends, based on jobs advertised on Twitter". JobsTractor. Archived from the original on 29 June 2013. Retrieved 14 June 2013.
  3. ^ "Most Popular Programming Languages 2021 Statistics". Self-Starters. Retrieved 10 October 2021.
  4. ^ Bieman, J.M.; Murdock, V., Finding code on the World Wide Web: a preliminary investigation, Proceedings First IEEE International Workshop on Source Code Analysis and Manipulation, 2001
  5. ^ "Tiobe Index Definition". TIOBE Software. Retrieved 10 April 2012.
  6. ^ "Programming Language Usage Graph". 31 October 2010. Retrieved 14 March 2017.
  7. ^ "Trends for the Future". Retrieved 14 March 2017.
  8. ^ "Language Trends on GitHub · GitHub". 19 August 2015. Retrieved 14 March 2017.
  9. ^ "Programming language popularity". Retrieved 14 March 2017.
  10. ^ "Compare Languages". Open Hub. Retrieved 20 January 2017.
  11. ^ a b c d "Which programming languages are most popular (and what does that even mean)?". ZDNet. Retrieved 16 October 2018.
  12. ^ "Top 10 Programming languages for 2021: IEEE Says Learn Python". Retrieved 7 September 2021.
  13. ^ a b "TIOBE Programming Community Index". TIOBE Software BV.
  14. ^ a b c "PYPL PopularitY of Programming Language index". 22 November 2013. Retrieved 14 March 2017.
  15. ^ O'Grady, Stephen (19 February 2016). "The RedMonk Programming Language Rankings: January 2016". Retrieved 14 March 2017.
  16. ^ O'Grady, Stephen (5 August 2021). "The RedMonk Programming Language Rankings: June 2021". tecosystems.
  17. ^ "Trendy Skills". Trendy Skills. 20 January 2012. Retrieved 14 March 2017.
  18. ^ "The Most Popular Programming Languages of 2016". Retrieved 14 March 2017.
  19. ^ "Stack Overflow Developer Survey 2021". Stack Overflow.
  20. ^ a b "Top Programming Languages 2021". IEEE Spectrum.
  21. ^ "IEEE Top Programming Languages: Design, Methods, and Data Sources". IEEE Spectrum. 22 July 2020.
  22. ^ Cass, Stephen (24 August 2021). "Top Programming Languages 2021". IEEE Spectrum.