Silver medallist

Java is still the #2 language in the world

Elliot Bentley

The latest rankings of language popularity have revealed that Java is more popular than ever, second only to JavaScript.

The September 2012 rankings, courtesy of Stephen O’Grady.


For the past year, Stephen O’Grady of RedMonk has compiled a list of the world’s most popular programming languages, based on their popularity on StackOverflow and GitHub. First utilised by analyst Drew Conway, O’Grady has since updated the plot every six months.

Last night, he released the latest compiled rankings, and the results are pretty interesting. Far from dead, Java is now the number two language in the world, second only to JavaScript.

Another method of ranking languages, the Tiobe index – which is based on search engine results – also currently places Java at number two, but behind C. O’Grady notes that Java has actually risen two places in his rankings since Drew Conway’s first analysis.

Of the major JVM languages, Clojure has dropped out of the top 20 since February’s analysis, leaving just Scala and Groovy at places 12 and 20, respectively. Red Hat’s currently-incubating Ceylon, meanwhile, has benefited from this round’s inclusion of more languages and appears towards the bottom of the graph.

Interestingly, Google’s Go has seen decent growth despite its young age. O’Grady writes:

Our rankings have Go jumping from #32 in 2010 to #30 today, a number that sounds modest but means that in that time it has improved more in popularity than Scala or Haskell and as much as Java, at least from a rankings standpoint (obviously growth becomes more difficult the more popular the language becomes).

While far from definitive, O’Grady’s rankings make interesting reading, especially with two years’ data for comparison. By far the most interesting conclusion is Java’s continued success – that it seems that there’s still life left in the old dog.

Photo by Julie Rybarczyk.

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