There are multiple ways to measure the popularity of programming languages. The most well-known rankings are the TIOBE Programming Community Index, the PYPL PopularitY of Programming Language Index, and the RedMonk Programming Language Rankings. Other tools such as StackOverflow, Trendy, Indeed, or IEEE Spectrum allow you to compare programming languages.

Top programming languages to learn in 2017

TIOBE Programming Community Index

TIOBE (The Importance Of Being Earnest) analyzes queries from the 25 most popular search engines. To put it simply, it counts the hits of search queries containing “<language> programming”. The index is updated once a month and is the most well-known index.

In January 2017, it places Java, C, C++, C# and Python at the top, same as last year. However, if we combine the ratings of the top 5 languages together, they add up to more than 50 points in January 2016. Their sum total drops to around 40 points in 2017, yielding place to emerging languages like Go, which gained more than 2 points, Dart or Rust.

Evolution of TIOBE top 10 programming languages

Evolution of the top 10 languages according to Tiobe

Source: TIOBE Index for January 2017

PYPL PopularitY of Programming Language Index

PYPL index is based on Google trends. It analyzes how often language tutorials are searched. Unlike TIOBE index, which uses the keyword “programming”, PYPL uses the keyword “tutorial”.

In January 2017, it places Java, Python, PHP, C# and Javascript in the top 5. The biggest progressions in shares over a one year period are Python (+2.7%), Javascript (+0.5%) and R (+0.5%).

PYPL also provides a chart of the ranking since 2005. You can select both the languages and the country you want to compare. The graph below shows a comparison of R, Python and JavaScript:

PYPL ranking of Python, JavaScript and R

Source: PYPL PopularitY of Programming Language Index, January 2017

RedMonk Programming Language Ranking

This ranking focuses on comparing language discussion through StackOverflow (SO) and usage through GitHub. For SO, it counts the number of tags, and for GitHub, the number of projects. The ranking is updated twice a year.

The last time it was computed (in June 2016), it placed JavaScript, Java, PHP, Python, C#, C++ and Ruby at the top. RedMonk detected a few notable jumps in the ranking besides Standard ML which gained 7 spots: Elixir (from #54 to #52), R (from #13 to #12) and TypeScript (from #31 to #26).

Undoubtedly, RedMonk will publish a new ranking next month with the data from January. It will be very interesting to see if they get the same evolutions as the other indexes.

RedMonk ranking of programming languages

RedMonk provides the above chart. However, you can find the same kind of data updated in real time in this fantastic chart.

Source: The RedMonk Programming Language Rankings: June 2016

StackOverflow Survey

In 2016, StackOverflow conducted a survey to which around 56,000 developers in 173 countries answered. In 2016, as in 2015, the most popular technologies were the following: JavaScript, SQL, Java, C# and PHP. SO also asked developers if they were interested in continuing developing with languages they were currently using. Interestingly, the most loved programming languages were Rust, Swift, F#, Scala and Go.

The survey also provides a lot of other statistics such as the most popular technologies per developer type and the top and trending technologies on SO. It’s a gold mine.

Source: Developer Survey Results 2016

IEEE Spectrum Ranking

IEEE enables us to choose the weights of the different criteria to establish a ranking and compare it to another ranking. Their ranking uses data from 12 different sources such as Google, SO, GitHub, Reddit, Hacker News and even Twitter.

IEEE Spectrum ranking places C, Java, Python, C++ and R in the top 5.

It’s even possible to compare this ranking with a custom one with different weights.

IEEE Spectrum different data sources and weights

Editing the weights of data sources in a custom ranking with IEEE

Source: Interactive: The Top Programming Languages, June 2016

Job Trends

By analyzing the job postings on sites like Indeed or Dice, you can discover what skills tech employers are looking for. Indeed also offers an interactive chart to find trends. Here’s an example with some of the most popular languages:

Indeed programming languages trends

TrendySkills extracts and analyzes the skills and technologies that employers seek in the IT industry. If we look at the year 2016, it shows Java, JavaScript, C#, HTML and PHP as the most popular technologies.

Popular languages in the tech industry

The site also has a public API.

Source: TrendySkills

Such rankings usually put forward “classic” programming languages. Let’s not forget all the small communities surrounding new languages. Some are growing really quickly. We might hear from them sooner than we think.

CodinGame platform currently supports 25 programming languages. Want to try Go, Rust or Swift?