C++ Picked Out By TIOBE - An Odd Choice?
Written by Sue Gee   
Thursday, 10 September 2020

The TIOBE Community Index which ranks programming languages in terms of their popularity is updated once per month. The headline for September 2020 reads "Programming Language C++ is doing very well". 


Why would anyone conclude from this chart of the popularity of C++ back to September 2001, which is TIOBE started the dataset that it has charted ever since, that it was currently "doing well". True its curve shows a recent uptick, but its been in 4th place overall since Python overtook it in April 2019: 


Looking at the chart of the top 10 languages (with some removed as it gets to look like colored spaghetti otherwise) "doing well" is not what my conclusion would be. Yes C++ is on the up at the moment, but Python appears to going up much more consistently.

However, from his reading of the data, Paul Jansen, CEO TIOBE Software sees C++ as the standout language based on the change in the year-on-year ratings, i.e in this case the difference of +1.48% between the share C++ had in September 2019, of 5.64% to its current share of 7.11%, pointing out that this means that:

C++ beats other languages with a positive trend such as R (+1.33%) and C# (+1.18%).



Considering C++ in the context of the index and the reasons for this rise in popularity, Jansen writes:

Back in 2003, the programming language C++ was a real winner. It peaked at 17.53% in August 2003, being close to the number #2 position and becoming winner of the programming language award of 2003. From then on C++ went downhill. After 2005 it didn't hit the 10% any more and in 2017 it scored an all time low of 4.55%. But if compared to last year, C++ is now the fastest growing language of the pack (+1.48%). I think that the new C++20 standard might be one of the main causes for this. Especially because of the new modules feature that is going to replace the dreadful include mechanism.

It was back in July that Jansen chose R as the month's headline language, noting that it had achieved a Personal Best in the index with 2.41% placing it in the 8th position. He was perhaps premature in that it did even better in August with a share of 2.79%.This month R has seen a slight downtick - its share down to 2.37 and in #9. 

The percentage change statistic reveals that Python is perhaps in the doldrums, it has seen an increase of only 0.59% since last September. It was named Language of the Year for 2018 because of its seemingly meteoric rise, but despite the fact that it overtook C++ in April 2019, it was C that took the honors in 2019, reinforcing the idea that its very difficult to see change at the top of programming language rankings. 

Commenting on Java's decline Jansen notes:

Java is in real trouble with a loss of -3.18% in comparison to last year.

The rationale for maintaining this index is that it:

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.

Seeing C++ gaining in popularity is good. Yes, it is seen as a challenging language in which to code - but as it gains new features it does become more developer friendly and more of us will rise to the challenge. On the other hand there are developers who think that more features equals more confusion. One C++ programmer recently described the current state of the language as "more than one language struggling to get out". 

Even though Java is perhaps in decline in terms of popularity it is certainly still the major workhorse of enterprise computing and it will take a lot for it to be ousted from its place near the very top.

Python is a good all-purpose language and has depths that I've been introduced to by reading my fellow editor's book - I refer, of course to Programmer's Python by Mike James.

It's great see C holding on to the top slot. As my collegue Harry Fairhead always tells me - it you want to be close to the metal, choose C. See his book, Fundamental C, if you need to be convinced. 

More Information

TIOBE Community Index

Related Articles

Language Popularity Retrospective 

Shock Horror - C Is The TIOBE Language Of The Year! (2019)

Python Language Of The Year (2018)

R Achieves Its Personal Best In TIOBE Index 

C Is Number One Language Again 

Rust Is A Top Twenty Language 


To be informed about new articles on I Programmer, sign up for our weekly newsletter, subscribe to the RSS feed and follow us on Twitter, Facebook or Linkedin.



New Eclipse Temurin OpenJDK Build Released

The Eclipse Foundation, together with the Adoptium Working Group, have announced the latest release of the Temurin Java SE runtime. This landmark release supports 54 version/platform combinations and  [ ... ]

Microsoft Reveals Preview C#13 Features

Microsoft has announced details of what will be included in C# 13. The news was announced at Microsoft's recent Build conference. The new version will have enhanced parameters, extension types, and se [ ... ]

More News

C book



or email your comment to: comments@i-programmer.info



Last Updated ( Thursday, 10 September 2020 )