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TIOBE Programming Community Index for May 2012

May Headline: Where is that next big programming language?

The last 8 years not much has changed in the top 10 of the TIOBE index except for Objective-C (in) and Delphi (out). Apart from iPhone language Objective-C, new language adoption appears to be much harder than expected. The main reason for this is probably that it is very difficult to migrate a large code base from one language to another one. So changes are slow. But even if we take this into account there are no new languages that show a slow but constant uprise.

Let’s have a look at some possible candidates. What programming languages are hot in the Internet discussions? Take, for instance, Scala. It is currently at position #46. We started monitoring this language 6 years ago. It entered the TIOBE index at #57 in 2006, but one year later it already moved to #48. So not much happened to the language after that. Other examples are F# (currently: #40, 2006: #38), Groovy (currently: #32, 2008: #36), Erlang (currently: #44, 2006: #35) and Clojure (currently: #77, 2009: #88). So where is that next big programming language? Let us know.

The TIOBE Programming Community index is an indicator of the popularity of programming languages. The index is updated once a month. The ratings are based on the number of skilled engineers world-wide, courses and third party vendors. The popular search engines Google, Bing, Yahoo!, Wikipedia, Amazon, YouTube and Baidu are used to calculate the ratings. Observe that the TIOBE index is not about the best programming language or the language in which most lines of code have been written.

The index can be used to check whether your programming skills are still up to date or to make a strategic decision about what programming language should be adopted when starting to build a new software system. The definition of the TIOBE index can be found here.

May 2012
May 2011
Delta in Position Programming Language Ratings
May 2012
May 2011
1 2 C 17.346% +1.18%   A
2 1 Java 16.599% -1.56%   A
3 3 C++ 9.825% +0.68%   A
4 6 Objective-C 8.309% +3.30%   A
5 4 C# 6.823% -0.72%   A
6 5 PHP 5.711% -0.80%   A
7 8 (Visual) Basic 5.457% +0.96%   A
8 7 Python 3.819% -0.76%   A
9 9 Perl 2.805% +0.57%   A
10 11 JavaScript 2.135% +0.74%   A
11 10 Ruby 1.451% +0.03%   A
12 26 Visual Basic .NET 1.274% +0.79%   A
13 21 PL/SQL 1.119% +0.62%   A
14 13 Delphi/Object Pascal 1.004% -0.07%   A
15 15 Lisp 0.941% -0.01%   A
16 24 Logo 0.839% +0.35%   A–
17 17 Pascal 0.808% +0.10%   A
18 18 Transact-SQL 0.654% -0.04%   A-
19 16 Ada 0.649% -0.10%   B
20 12 Lua 0.566% -0.54%   B

Long term trends

The long term trends for the top 10 programming languages can be found in the line diagram below.

Other programming languages

The complete top 50 of programming languages is listed below. This overview is published unofficially, because it could be the case that we missed a language. If you have the impression there is a programming language lacking, please notify us at tpci@tiobe.com.

Position Programming Language Ratings
21 RPG (OS/400) 0.557%
22 Assembly 0.517%
23 MATLAB 0.485%
24 Bash 0.465%
25 SAS 0.456%
26 Fortran 0.411%
27 COBOL 0.405%
28 Scheme 0.394%
29 R 0.381%
30 cg 0.372%
31 ABAP 0.372%
32 Groovy 0.344%
33 Scratch 0.343%
34 D 0.327%
35 Haskell 0.295%
36 Prolog 0.293%
37 (Visual) FoxPro 0.268%
38 NXT-G 0.252%
39 PL/I 0.245%
40 F# 0.239%
41 Smalltalk 0.238%
42 Awk 0.237%
43 APL 0.236%
44 Erlang 0.229%
45 Forth 0.224%
46 Scala 0.221%
47 ML 0.214%
48 JScript.NET 0.195%
49 VBScript 0.194%
50 Alice 0.180%

The Next 50 Programming Languages

The following list of languages denotes #51 to #100. Since the differences are relatively small, the programming languages are only listed (in alphabetical order).

  • ActionScript, Algol, Apex, bc, Boo, C shell, CFML, CL (OS/400), Clean, Clojure, Curl, Dart, Dylan, Eiffel, Euphoria, Factor, Felix, Go, Icon, Inform, J, JavaFX Script, LabVIEW, Ladder Logic, Lingo, LPC, Mathematica, Max/MSP, MUMPS, NATURAL, Oberon, OCaml, Occam, OpenCL, OpenEdge ABL, Oz, PowerShell, Processing, Q, REALbasic, REXX, S, S-PLUS, SPARK, SuperCollider, Tcl, Verilog, VHDL, X10, xBase

Very Long Term History

To see the bigger picture, please find the positions of the top 10 programming languages from 5, 15 and 25 years ago in the table below.

Programming Language Position
May 2012
May 2007
May 1997
May 1987
C 1 2 1 1
Java 2 1 3
C++ 3 3 2 7
Objective-C 4 45
C# 5 8
PHP 6 4
(Visual) Basic 7 5 4 5
Python 8 7 22
Perl 9 6 6
JavaScript 10 9 18
Lisp 15 16 16 3
Ada 19 17 11 2

Programming Language Hall of Fame

The hall of fame listing all “Programming Language of the Year” award winners is shown below. The award is given to the programming language that has the highest rise in ratings in a year.

Year Winner
2011 Objective-C
2010 Python
2009 Go
2008 C
2007 Python
2006 Ruby
2005 Java
2004 PHP
2003 C++

Categories of Programming Languages

In the tables below some long term trends are shown about categories of languages. Object-oriented statically typed languages have been most popular for more than 5 years now.

Category Ratings May 2012 Delta May 2011
Object-Oriented Languages 57.7% +0.4%
Procedural Languages 36.6% -0.5%
Functional Languages 3.9% -0.4%
Logical Languages 1.9% +0.5%
Category Ratings May 2012 Delta May 2011
Statically Typed Languages 71.6% +0.5%
Dynamically Typed Languages 28.4% -0.5%

This Month’s Changes in the Index

This month the following changes have been made to the definition of the index:

  • Ken Arromdee gave some suggestions how to improve grouping calculation. His proposals will be tried out in the near future.
  • Wes Byrd pointed out that according to Wikipedia, ColdFusion is also used to refer to the CFML programming language. This is an issue that raised a huge debate a couple of years ago. Unfortunately, Wes’ mail came to late for this edition of the TIOBE index. So from next month on we will use the ColdFusion term again.
  • There are lots of mails that still need to be processed. As soon as there is more time available your mail will be answered. Please be patient.

Bugs & Change Requests

This is the top 5 of most requested changes and bugs. If you have any suggestions how to improve the index don’t hesitate to send an e-mail to tpci@tiobe.com.

  1. Apart from “<language> programming”, also other queries such as “programming with <language>”, “<language> development” and “<language> coding” should be tried out.
  2. Add queries for other natural languages (apart from English). The idea is to start with the Chinese search engine Baidu. This has been implemented partially and will be completed the next few months.
  3. Add a list of all search term requests that have been rejected. This is to minimize the number of recurring mails about Rails, JQuery, JSP, etc.
  4. Start a TIOBE index for databases, software configuration management systems and application frameworks.
  5. Some search engines allow to query pages that have been added last year. The TIOBE index should only track those recently added pages.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

  • Q: Why is the maximum taken to calculate the ranking for a grouping, why not the sum?A: Well, you can do it either way and both are wrong. If you take the sum, then you get the intersection twice. If you take the max, then you miss the difference. Which one to choose? Suppose somebody comes up with a new search term that is 10% of the original. If you take the max, nothing changes. If you take the sum then the ratings will rise 10%. So taking the sum will be an incentive for some to come up with all kinds of obscure terms for a language. That’s why we decided to take the max.The proper way to solve this is is of course to take the sum and subtract the intersection. This will give rise to an explosion of extra queries that must be performed. Suppose a language has a grouping of 15 terms, then you have to perform 32,768 queries (all combinations of intersections). So this seems not possible either… If somebody has a solution for this, please let us know.
  • Q: Am I allowed to show the TIOBE index in my weblog/presentation/publication?A: Yes, the only condition is to refer to its original source “www.tiobe.com”.
  • Q: I would like to have the complete data set of the TIOBE index. Is this possible?A: We spent a lot of effort to obtain all the data and keep the TIOBE index up to date. In order to compensate a bit for this, we ask a fee of 5,000 US$ for the complete data set. The data set runs from June 2001 till today. It started with 25 languages back in 2001, and now measures more than 150 languages once a month. The data are availabe in comma separated format. Please contact sales@tiobe.com for more information.
  • Q: What happened to Java in April 2004? Did you change your methodology?A: No, we did not change our methodology at that time. Google changed its methodology. They performed a general sweep action to get rid of all kinds of web sites that had been pushed up. As a consequence, there was a huge drop for languages such as Java and C++. In order to minimize such fluctuations in the future, we added two more search engines (MSN and Yahoo) a few months after this incident.
  • Q: Why is YouTube used as a search engine for the TIOBE index?A: First of all, YouTube counts only for 10% of all ratings, so it has hardly any influence on the index. YouTube has been added as an experiment. It qualified for the TIOBE index because of its high ranking on Alexa. YouTube is a young platform (so an indicator for popularity) and there are quite some lectures, presentations, programming tips and language introductions available on YouTube.