The July 2021 edition of the TIOBE Programming Community Index is out, and things are a bit crowded at the top.
The Index was first published in July 2001, after TIOBE CEO Paul Jansen embarked on “a personal hobby project to see which languages were in demand”. The methodology for determining a language’s popularity – and therefore its place in the index – has remained roughly the same since then: scores are calculated by counting and normalizing query results. + "
A change in Google’s methods in 2004 led TIOBE to add more search engines to the mix in order to minimize fluctuations. However, most of the qualifying engines currently in use belong to the Google family, so a change would still influence the overall result. Criticism of the index often comes down to that it is not very significant, as singular events like a new release or temporary issues can potentially change the ranking result significantly.
TIOBE, the company, was founded in Eindhoven and is best known for its TICS product, a software code quality measurement framework. Its name means “The Importance of Being Consistent,” which aims to reflect the “sincere and professional attitude” of the company (and to make Oscar Wilde connoisseurs laugh, we suppose).
Twenty years ago, the top ranks of the TIOBE index were occupied by Java, C and C ++. It’s not much different from the way it is today, except that Python has taken over C ++’s stance and the top three contenders are seemingly closer than ever.
Between C, which ranks first for the 15th consecutive month, and Python, third, the difference is only 0.67% this time. A year ago the gap was around 7.36% between the two, so the Language of the Year 2020 appears to be on a clear upward trajectory. The latest edition of the PYPL Index is already seeing Python take hold there, giving it the strongest growth in popularity over the past five years. Meanwhile, Java, second on the TIOBE index, appears to continue to lose ground.
Jansen explains the continued rise of Python with the “burgeoning field of data mining and artificial intelligence”. However, that cannot be the whole story, given that languages like R, Matlab, and Julia – which are also common in this area – are currently retreating slightly or stagnating at best. Having a somewhat established tool ecosystem including heavyweights like NumPy, TensorFlow, and PyTorch, along with relatively strong IDE support, has surely helped Python rise through the ranks.
With a few exceptions, the top 10 has remained roughly the same since last year’s rankings. R went from # 8 to # 12, and Swift plunged from # 10 to # 16, leaving room for the PHP and SQL pillars to change a bit.
Further down, the top 30 shows at least one interesting move, with Go moving up from 20th to 13th position in February.
Rust also got tailwind and jumped from # 30 to # 27. Among other things, this could be due to the growing interest in the Rust for Linux project, which aims to secure Linux kernel memory and which has recently started to receive financial support.