Which Programming Language Is the Most Popular, and Does It Matter? | TechWell

Which Programming Language Is the Most Popular, and Does It Matter?

Not all of us are drawn to the endless stream of popularity contest results that the Internet provides us on a daily basis, but if those lists weren’t so popular to millions of people, we wouldn’t be so inundated with them. Everything from celebrities to schools are aggregated and ranked—and software programming languages aren’t excluded from the honor.

But, there’s a catch. With countless sources providing their definitive lists of which language reigns supreme, whose top ten list should you believe? Personally, I take issue with nearly all of them.

Two of the more trusted, or at least quoted, programming popularity contest providers,TIOBE and PYPL, couldn’t be more different. Each gives the top ranking to Java. But when it comes to C, C#, Objective-C, and Javascript, they’re all over the map.

In regards to Javascript in particular, TIOBE and PYPL have the language ranked at number eleven and number seven respectively, yet Github has JS at number one.

I recently had the opportunity to interview agile expert and Javascript proponent Rob Myers about why he’s such a fan of the language, especially on an agile project where test-driven development is being practiced. To back up his support, Rob went into Javascript’s cross-functionality and usefulness for building interactive web apps.

It’s Rob's ability to point out reasons—useful reasons—for his top ranked language that separates it from the way others put together their lists.

This begs the question—why are there such startling differences on everyone’s lists? For many compilers, the criteria for ranking the languages are often limited to a single requirement. TIOBE and PYPL in particular each use Google search results and analytics to determine popularity. In what should be obvious to everyone, ReadWriteWeb points out what’s wrong with this logic:

These results don’t reflect what developers like or use, just what terms people are searching for. Can be skewed by developers searching for more specific information (such as jQuery or Node.js instead of “JavaScript”).

In most cases, popularity contests should be taken with a grain of salt. Those who are popular usually already know it, just as those who aren’t popular are just as aware of their own status. When you’re talking about languages that don’t have the emotional issues of the humans who use them, the need for popularity contests seems somewhat trivial.

Although maybe these lists aren’t for the self esteem of the code itself, but for the egos of those who write the lists.

What’s your take on the best way to truly determine a programming language’s popularity? Or do you think there’s a better way to judge them? Let us know in the comments section below!

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