Still kicking

Java still top but chasing pack closing, RedMonk finds

Chris Mayer

Increasing language fragmentation is biggest threat to Java’s future, but it’s still riding high according to the latest rankings

Critics of Java are often quick to decry the death of their least favourite programming language, but perhaps they shouldn’t be so hasty.

The latest rankings from developer analysts RedMonk are in for Q3, showing that Java has edged to the top of the pile, but only just.

The RedMonk Programming Language Rankings measures the traction of languages on two of the biggest communities out there, by correlating the number of tags on Stack Overflow questions against the number of GitHub projects in that given language. The results are shown below. Given the size of data on show, it might be worth checking out the weekly version here.

RedMonk’s Stephen O’Grady is quick to point out that Java is “technically tied with JavaScript rather than ahead of it.” JavaScript holds top spot on GitHub, but is lagging behind in fourth on Stack Overflow whereas Java takes silver and bronze on Stack Overflow and GitHub respectively. Rounding out the top five are fellow Tier One languages PHP, Python and Ruby.

According to O’Grady, the top 10 remains static from the Q1 snapshot, hence why no rankings were taken in Q2. JVM languages Groovy has broken into the top 20 programming languages (#18), while Scala remains the frontrunner of the Tier 2 languages at #12. Another JVM dialect, the functional Clojure, is at #22.

By taking a glance at other language rankings, we can see that Java is still riding high. The TIOBE Index (which uses search engines as an indicator) has the object-oriented language at No.2, pipped by C. The PYPL Index, which looks at how often language tutorials are searched for on Google as its data, has Java well out ahead with 26.5%, suggesting there is going to be a great interest in working with the language for some time yet.

So what does the latest rankings tell us? Well, not very much. RedMonk know that this metric is merely a snapshot of two communities and shouldn’t be taken as gospel, and state as much. What the RedMonk rankings do show us is that the expanding language landscape is continuing to fragment, as shown by the number of languages sitting in the first two tiers.

The en vogue upstarts of the programming world are threatening the old guard, while there’s still room for both. This is undoubtedly healthy for the software community, showing great diversity in the number of tools you can select to do the job. Java will of course eventually lose its place to trendier languages in time, but you can’t see this for the foreseeable future.

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