Java TIOBE Top Language 2015
Written by MIke James   
Tuesday, 05 January 2016

Java just keeps on giving. Since its introduction in 1996 it has constantly been in the top languages on the Tiobe index. It is certainly a language you cannot ignore no matter what your opinion of it is.

While the Tiobe index is admittedly flawed as a measure of the popularity of programming languages, looking at the relative changes it reveals does indicate that something is going on. It also tends to fit in with common sense expectations of the way languages are changing.  

As happens every year, with the January figures it is time to consider the language of the year.

Tiobe's own nomination is Java and it is difficult to argue with this selection. Java has been at the top of the list for a long time and this year it has gone up 6% compared to the next highest improvers - Visual Basic .NET at 2% and Python at 1%.




These figures deserve some comments. 

First Java. This is the language we love to hate and love. Since Oracle took the language over it has been in the strange position of being open source and yet not entirely trusted. In the browser, users have been urged not only to turn Java Applets off, but to actually remove the Java installation because of security problems. Now browsers are moving away from even allowing the sort of add-on that Java depends on. In practical terms this means that Java in the browser is virtually dead even though this was one of its big early attractions.

At the same time as Oracle is raising worries about Java's future, we have had some recent and forthcoming updates that have improved the language a great deal. Java now looks modern with lambdas, parallel operations, better date and time APIs and so on and it is promising more in the near future.

There is a feeling that Java is going somewhere, even though it has been stuck in one place for a while and suffering from Oracle's growing lack of attention. 



For this reason alone it deserves to be language of the year 2015.

Now we come to the runners up. 

Python gaining 1% isn't unreasonable, nor is its improved position - up from 8th to 5th. Python is growing in importance both as a teaching language and as platform-independent general purpose language. 

It is Visual Basic .NET that is puzzling. Why has interest in a language that is over-shadowed by C# and under-shadowed by VB 6 increased? It has got many things going for it as an easy-to-use but still modern language, but this is not an opinion widely shared. Visual Basic .NET is retained alongside C#, but I doubt that many developers would consider it for a new project unless they had a great deal already invested. If you disagree let me know. I find the position of Visual Basic .NET at number 7 up from 16 as mystifying - and probably an artifact of the way the index is computed. 

Of the other languages, C slipped to number 2 while C++ moved up one to number 3 - confirming the idea that if you put C and C++ together the combination would probably beat Java. Meanwhile  C# going up one to number 4 also seems a reasonable achievement.


Other notable risers are  assembly language, Ruby, Delphi, Pascal and Groovy. I wonder if Raspberry Pi has anything to do with the rise in assembly language?

Holding steady are PHP, which is one to look out for in 2016 with the introduction of PHP 7, and R. 

Perl dropped from 9 to 11 and probably will drop further due in part to the release of Perl 6.

Not so much a mystery is the fact that Swift has gone from 25 to 14 and Objective C has dropped from 3 to 18. Expect Objective C to become an endangered language over the next few years. 

Finally just to remind us that old languages never die - Cobol and Fortran are at 23 and 24. Let us recall Tony Hoare's quote from 1984: 

“I don't know what the language of the year 2000 will look like, but I know it will be called Fortran.” 

Perhaps for the prediction for 2030 has to change  Fortran to Java. 


More Information

Headline: Java is TIOBE's Programming Language of 2015!

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Last Updated ( Tuesday, 05 January 2016 )