RedMonk rankings see JavaScript back in top spot, Go and Swift on the move

Natali Vlatko
Ranking image via Shutterstock

The bi-annual RedMonk programming language rankings are out and its good news for JavaScript fans. Java supporters are getting used to second place, while Google’s Go and Apple’s Swift are making headway outside of the Top 10.

Much like the RedMonk programming language rankings of last quarter, JavaScript and Java find themselves at ranks 1 and 2 on the winner’s podium respectively in Q315. The Top 20 round up actually includes 21 languages this time around, with a few tied positions shaking up the numbers.

Movers and shakers

Looking at the Top 10, Stephen O’Grady notes that language positions have remained rather static for sometime now, with the difference between JavaScript and Java’s numerical rankings incredibly slight. As a plus for JS, its sustained performance is said to reflect the language’s “versatility and growing strategic role amongst startups and enterprises”.

Screen Shot 2015-07-07 at 13.51.10

For those who challenge the notion of the Top 10 not being as static in the rankings as suggested,  O’Grady wasn’t taking the bait:

While we see periodic arguments from advocates of a particular language, or a particular style or type of language, the simple fact is that the group of the most popular languages has changed little and shows little propensity for future change… This raises some interesting questions about language adoption and whether fragmentation has reached its apogee.

However, outside the Top 10, O’Grady recognised the potential of newcomers Go and Swift, saying that they could very well be the first two potential challengers for the Top 10 that they’ve seen in a while.

Screen Shot 2015-07-07 at 14.18.15

Google’s Go was predicted by RedMonk to break into the Top 20 within a six to twelve month timeframe, before this goal was achieved in January’s ranking report. Commenting on its upward trajectory, O’Grady notes that although a period of disillusionment was evident, “none of the periodic criticism has had any apparent impact on the project’s growth”.

He’s also suggested that the US Supreme Court’s recent decision in the Google vs Oracle copyright saga could positively impact the amount of adoption we see with Go in the future.

SEE ALSO: US Supreme Court will not review software copyright decision in Oracle vs Google drama

Swift’s meteoric rise to the Top 20 may have been influenced by Apple’s WWDC, with the results before and after the event differing somewhat. Before the conference, RedMonk attempted to run its usual analysis, however due to a change in page structure, their automated Stack Overflow scrape had failed.

In order to collect the data required, they narrowed their scope for a partial run of data, with the result seeing Swift settle for a tie with Lua at number #21. After Apple’s WWDC, and when a complete set of Stack Overflow data was available, the required data was once again collected and saw Swift’s ranking jump to number #18.


Regardless of the difference, there’s no denying that the jump from #68 to #18, and it’s cracking of the Top 20 list in less than a year, means that Swift is growing faster than anything else RedMonk currently tracks. “The forthcoming release of Swift as open source and availability of builds for Linux, as well, should theoretically provide even more momentum going forward”.

O’Grady’s final thoughts for the ranking turned to how the two new languages on the block could penetrate the static and stoic Top 10:

At a minimum, Go would have to displace Objective C, Perl, Shell, R and Scala. Perl and Shell are everywhere but lack the volume of languages higher up the spectrum, while R and Scala are very popular languages but specifically purposed. The best bet for weakening Objective C, meanwhile, is accelerating Swift adoption. Swift, for its part, has to tackle the above list, as well as Matlab, Haskell and Go itself.

RedMonk’s full analysis is available here.

Natali Vlatko
An Australian who calls Berlin home, via a two year love affair with Singapore. Natali was an Editorial Assistant for (S&S Media Group).

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments