TIOBE or not TIOBE

Don’t be misled – Java is more popular than ever

Lucy Carey
real-time-popularity

Whilst certain popularity stats may have you believe the language is tottering towards its dotage, a little probing reveals that things are very much alive beneath the surface.

 As
we’ve noted before, the

TIOBE Index
, a barometer of language popularity based on
search engine result frequency, including data from Google, Bing,
Youtube and Wikipedia, is a contentious beast. Recently, the fight
for top spot between alleged arch rivals Java and C has been closer
than ever, and every time C comes out on top, thre’s an inevitable
chorus decrying “Java’s long and painful decline.”

Looking at the TIOBE stats from the last 13
years, you can’t blame people for drawing negative conclusions
about the health of Java, which follows a largely dipping
trajectory.

However,
Kevin Farnham
, java.net managing editor, has
taken a stand against this latest bout of Java eulogizing. Whilst
the chart seems to indeed highlight the slow and steady plunge of
Oracle’s language into the minor leagues, beneath the figures,
argues Franham, there’s an entirely different story in
play.

For a start, Java is a legacy language. It’s
been around long enough that only the freshest minted devs would
have to research it – unlike a crazy new programming concept that
you might find getting Redditors all het up about.

What’s more, whilst the proportion of searches
for Java relative to “interest” in all topics has
dipped by a third since 2004, Franham observes that if you skew
results on the basis of total interest in “Java programming”,
searches on Google more than quadrupled between 2007 and
2013!”

There will always be cool new languages grabbing
the Google stats, but how many people will actually start coding in
it? Java has also chipped out a large niche in the enterprise
world, sequestered away in legacy, proprietary systems that will
remain important for decades to come. It’s highly unlikely that
it’ll truly slalom into oblivion within the next decade or
so.

Just a cursory look around for the most popular
programming languages among

recruiters
shows just how in demand Java
continues to be, topping the  StackOverflow
Careers
2.0
 with 22.26% of all search queries. Oh,
and Java devs continue to be some of the

best paid
in the industry. In spite of the
vertiginous troughs in TIOBE rankings over the years, stats from
the real world speak more than any virtual number games ever
could.

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