This JVM language is on fire

Clojure makes RedMonk Programming Index top 20 debut

Lucy Carey

Java may have slipped off its number one perch, but growing success of Javasphere language affirms strength of the platform.

As we’ve seen previously, programming language rankings are always worth taking with a pinch of salt. Case in point: Transact SQL’s triumph as the TIOBE Index programming language of the year 2013 highlights how subjective results can be in a wider context.

Tied to Microsoft SQLServer – which is long past its glory days – by dint of nothing really dramatic happening in the space over the past 12 months, it shot to victory with a near full 1% rise in popularity.

The lack of drama in the space in 2013 is also reflected in the latest tabulations by RedMonk, who have just released their first quarter 2014 Programming Index. Between the first and third quarters of 2013, only two languages in the top ten swapped places.

Java slipped down one place from its number one position (*gasp*), replaced by a buoyant JavaScript (oh). As RedMonk, who calculates their index based on data from GitHub and StackOverflow, note, any minor shift between rankings at the top of the leagues is effectively meaningless, and, “no one is going to use one language or drop another because it’s fifth rather than sixth, for example.”

For those with an interest in the Java platform, perhaps the most significant take home is that whilst Java has been usurped by JavaScript, overall languages from the Javasphere have consistently dominated the top of the table for the past year –  reflecting the sprawling, dynamic nature of the ecosystem that has grown up around the platform.

Case in point: for the first time, Clojure has broken into the RedMonk top twenty for the first time, leaping up five positions to join fellow JVM-language stable mate, Scala.

RedMonk concludes with the final takeaway that, “language diversity is the new norm.” And that’s something we should get used to. New languages come and go all the time of course – emerging to solve new problems, and fading into obscurity as technologies lapse into obsolescence. The apparent rude health of JVM languages is a positive for Java users across the board, signalling that the platform will remain relevant and able to adapt to changes in the industry for a long time to come.

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