Shock Horror - C Is The TIOBE Language Of The Year!
Written by Harry Fairhead   
Monday, 13 January 2020

Every year, about this time, TIOBE announces the language of the year and this year it isn't something new and exciting, it's an old timer - C. What next? Fortran for 2021?

Not that there is anything wrong with Fortran, or C for that matter. C is my favourite language with Rust coming a close second and catching up fast. Why do I like C? Because it is close to the machine and sufficiently high-level to allow me not to get bogged down too much in the exact nature of the machine. You can argue that C, a non-object-oriented, block-structured language really isn't up to today's programming tasks, but for some it very much is. However, if you had asked me to bet on the outcome, I would have picked Python for the language of the year and so would the TIOBE blog:

Everybody thought that Python would become TIOBE's programming language of the year for the second consecutive time. But it is good old language C that wins the award this time with an yearly increase of 2.4%. Runners up are C# (+2.1%), Python (+1.4%) and Swift (+0.6%). Why is the programming language C still hot?

The TIOBE blog suggests that the reason is the IoT and I can agree with this. I get more general C questions asked of me from programmers working on IoT-type projects than anything else. Occasionally I get a graphics question, but it usually turns out that there is an IoT connection for even these.

Even though C made the largest increase over the year, the number one language is still Java with C in second place. Python is in third place and made only a modest gain of 1.4%.


Could C get to number one?

Perhaps we have to get used to the fact that the future, as well as the past, is C.

You can argue that Go and Rust are suitable challengers. and even Python can be used in place of C. but when you have a small processor, not a huge amount of memory and need realtime performance, C has a big advantage.  C is close enough to the machine for a programmer to be able to guess what assembler the program will produce and hence how efficient the final program is both in terms of speed and memory use.

What of the other languages?

Hot languages such as Rust, Go and Swift hardly figured. Rust, at number 30, isn't even in the top twenty. While Go dropped by 0.32% it still moved up to 14. Swift did an impressive jump from 15 to 9. Most interesting, if you are a Microsoft watcher, is the fact that C# increased its rating by 2% and rose from 7 to 5. C# is an interesting language because despite Microsoft not seeming to care much about .NET any longer, the language just seems to find new uses and users. And good news for all those "Ruby is dead" deniers - it jumped from 18 to 11.


More Information


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