Top of the podium

Java is the world’s #1 programming language (again)

Chris Mayer

Helped by a change in calculations, Java knocks C to second and reclaims No.1 spot in the popularity programming index


Java has reclaimed the No.1 spot of the TIOBE Index, ending C’s four month stay at the top of the programming rankings.

The TIOBE Programming Community Index ranks programming languages’ popularity by measuring the number of search engine results including Google, Bing, Youtube and Wikipedia. In the latest release, Java sneaked past C to retake top honours thanks to the addition of 16 new search engines to the calculations. The newcomers, added to improve validity according to TIOBE Managing Director Paul Jansen, includes websites from China, Japan and Brazil, as well as Reddit.

The biggest casualties from this rethink are C and Objective C. While both only fell one spot in the rankings (C to 2nd, Objective to 4th), they lost 1.65% and 2.17% of the total share respectively.

The winners from August’s changes include Google’s garbage collecting language Go (up 16 places to 26th) visual dataflow dialect LabVIEW (from 100 to 49) and business application language Openedge ABL (from 129 to 57). Fellow JVM languages Scala (37) and Groovy (44) remain in the Top 50.

Java and C have been duking it out for top spot since TIOBE’s inception, with the object-oriented language falling behind through much of 2012. Some might say that Java could be top of the pile because its shortcomings and learning difficulty indicate that developers are often searching for answers. Indeed, The TIOBE Index has faced staunch criticism over its validity, but the team state that the rankings are purely an indicator of popularity and do not show which languages is the best or has the most lines of code.

Alternatives have sprung up in recent years in an attempt to find a more accurate measure. PYPL measures the amount of times tutorials are searched for on Google, while RedMonk’s quarterly analysis measures GitHub projects against StackOverflow comments. Across all three, Java is currently top, suggesting that, while no longer fashionable, the language isn’t on its deathbed just yet.

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