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Usurping Java: Why aren’t new languages dethroning the old?

Sarah Schlothauer
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The Cloud Foundry Foundation has released their top enterprise language report. The results are shocking to no one: Java takes first place yet again. But what about newer languages? Why are businesses sticking with the old?

The Cloud Foundry Foundation released a report about the top languages for enterprise application development. Businesses were polled about what the top languages used in their companies were and the results have been released to the public.

It’s Java’s world, we just program in it

These Are the Top Languages for Enterprise Application Development” is available for your own perusal. The top results come as no surprise to anyone familiar with similar polls. What does this mean for developers’ and their favorite languages?

Let’s take a look at the top twenty-five most used languages:

  1. Java
  2. JavaScript
  3. C++
  4. C#
  5. Python
  6. PHP
  7. VB.NET
  8. C
  9. Visual Basic 6
  10. VBA
  11. Perl
  12. Ruby
  13. Swift
  14. Typescript
  15. Objective-C
  16. Assembly
  17. Matlab
  18. R
  19. Scala
  20. Go
  21. Groovy
  22. Haskell
  23. CoffeeScript
  24. Lua
  25. Other

Java and JavaScript taking the first two spots respectively are not newsworthy. Time and time again Java continues to lead usage rates. Why is this? The language is commonly taught, its age lends itself credibility, and there is no shortage of tools and frameworks for developers to pick and choose from. There is no shortage of Java learning materials, including tutorials, shelves of books, and a strong online community. Java also has an international reach; it was the most commonly used enterprise language in North America as well as Asia.

In short, Java is popular because it is popular.

SEE ALSO: “Go is on track to be the go-to language for blockchain”

Golang, Golang, gone?

Back in February 2018, we examined the rising popularity of Go in the businesses sphere. Go has been steadily gaining traction and moving from a hobbyist language to one that can be found in the office. In the 2017 survey, 67% of Go users answered that they program at work in Go.

Meanwhile, VP of Upwork Shoshana Deutschkron said that Go is one of the fastest-growing programming languages and that, “Go is seen as simple and increasingly being used to create smart contracts in building blockchain, which may have played a role in its recent demand surge.” With the meteoric rise in popularity of blockchain technology, will Go continue to grow alongside of it in an enterprise environment?

In May 2018, we also examined what new tech skills companies are looking for in their hiring credentials. On the list of noteworthy skills (wedged between React and machine learning) was Go.

Yet, in the survey from The Cloud Foundry Foundation, Go lags at the tail end of the list at number 20.

Fan-favorite Kotlin is nowhere to be seen on the top twenty-five list. The “other” category came in last place, and includes every other language not previously mentioned in the list. So, if Kotlin is in there, it is in a wide grab bag.

Most of Kotlin’s developers come from a Java background  and still work with Java. The young language has been rising in popularity according to a RedMonk report and the Pusher’s State of Kotlin 2018. However, a rise in popularity does not always translate to a rise in business usage, as we see in the survey results.

In with the new?

Does this add up? Why are companies avoiding using new languages? 

SEE ALSO: Linux is the number one in-demand skill: Open source career trends

An obvious answer is that new is not always better. We have all had a job where everything was going smoothly — until it wasn’t. A new change disrupted the workflow or the company adopted a new practice that just didn’t click. Another answer may be that trends are fashionable, but not always the best solution.

Take for example the blockchain. By now, it seems everyone wants a piece of the blockchain and their own ledger, even if that doesn’t make sense for their company beyond a buzzword.

Legacy programming languages will probably not step down off their pedestal any time soon. Even if newer languages are technically “better” or easier than behemoths like Java and PHP, adoption of these languages and putting them into practice will always lag behind.

So, here’s the million dollar question: How do we get businesses to adopt new programming languages?

One good way of getting the decision makers to see the benefits of using a different language at work would of course to be showing them the cost benefits. Does using Kotlin instead of Java save you time and make you more productive? Personally, I suggest using a screenshare option to show your preferred language’s capabilities to a skeptical employer.

We want to hear from you about this topic! 

Do you think newer languages should be adopted in businesses more or less? Should we stick with the old classics while programming at work, or should new languages boot out the old?

Sarah Schlothauer

Sarah Schlothauer

All Posts by Sarah Schlothauer

Sarah Schlothauer is the editor for She received her Bachelor's degree from Monmouth University, West Long Branch, New Jersey. She currently lives in Frankfurt, Germany with her husband and cat where she enjoys reading, writing, and medieval reenactment. She is also the editor for Conditio Humana, an online magazine about ethics, AI, and technology.

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Brett Sutton
Brett Sutton
3 years ago

The real question is why are C++ and assembler so high on the list, neither make sense for typical business applications.

3 years ago

“In short, Java is popular because it is popular.”
No! Java is not popular.
In short, Java is there because it is there.
BTW. Cobol also is there, and you can still earn a lot of money with this language, but no one would claim Cobol to be popular.

3 years ago

Java running on the JVM is the most maintainable combination for a large scale project, this is the reason why it remains at the top and the reason why when small projects grow to large implementations, more of them move over to Java than anything else.