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Groovy makes debut entry into programming language top twenty

Lucy Carey

Java compatible upstart makes its way into top of list of most searched for languages online for the first time.

Groovy continues to slowly but surely grapple its way towards becoming a mainstream programming language – reflected in the latest TIOBE Index, where, for the first time, it’s just clawed its way into the top twenty most frequently searched for languages on the web.   


Currently standing at the 18th spot, admittedly, the dynamic JVM language isn’t exactly setting ratings alight with this entry, showing up in just  0.658% of the searches Tiobe used to compile the index- a pittance when compared to number one C, which came in at 17.246%. What is impressive is how big a leap Groovy has made in the last year – jumping up 35 places in the chart from number 53 in October 2012.

It’s hard to pin down one key reason propelling the growth of Groovy. Part of it lies in how easy it is to learn the language, as well as the sheer size of the ecosystem that has grown up around it. It also simplifies a lot common Java scenarios, including complex code with conditionals and error handling. It’s also very simple to combine Java programs with Groovy, due to the total-compatibility of the two languages.

Java is holding fast at number two, resoundingly beaten by 1.14% by C – something Tiobe Managing Director Paul Jansen attributes to the ubiquity of the language in the programming world, especially in the growing number of small devices on the market.

It’s worth bearing in mind that the TIOBE Programming Community Index is a contentious barometer of language adoption. Monthly totals are calculated by ranking programming languages’ popularity by measuring the number of search engine results including Google, Bing, Youtube and Wikipedia. It doesn’t take into account figures that relate to quantitative use of code such as number of lines written, nor is it an indicator of the ‘best’ programming language. The compilers of the index claim that it is a good measure of the number of skilled engineers, courses and jobs worldwide relating to a specific language. At the very least, it’s certainly a measure of the interest in a language – hence the reason little used languages like Factor find their way onto the index.

Whilst Java rules Android – a factor that massively boosts its index ranking – there are plenty of increasingly popular competitors like Groovy nibbling into its market share from elsewhere. It remains to be seen if Java 8 will do anything to stop the rise of Java alternative. Flawed as the TIOBE Index may be, this October’s figures serve to underline the fact that Java’s competitors are gaining traction – and it’d take something  pretty huge for Java to reverse this trend.

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