Programming Language Table Ranks C As Most Popular

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Over forty years old and still going strong, as survey ranks C as the most popular programming language

IEEE Spectrum’s ranking of the most popular programming languages has revealed that the venerable C language is the world’s most popular programming language, usurping Java which has reigned supreme for the past two years.

The arrival of this survey comes as the IT industry continues to bemoan a skill shortage amid a constant demand for experienced programmers and helps to show which languages are most used in server rooms across the world.

IEEE Rankings

Courtsey of IEEE Spectrum
Courtesy of IEEE Spectrum

The metrics involved in deciding these rankings are varied, as IEEE Spectrum admits it cannot look over the shoulder of every programmer.

Instead from ten online sources (Google, Twitter, GitHub, StackOverflow, Reddit etc) it uses 12 metrics, each one of which “gives insight along a different axis of popularity.”

Combining these metrics produces the table ranking.

C of course was originally developed by Dennis Ritchie between 1969 and 1973 at Bell Labs. It was used to re-implement the Unix operating system, and has since become one of the most widely used programming languages of all time. Ritchie died in 2011 after a long illness, aged 69 years old.

Java is now in second place on the rankings, followed by Python (a hugely popular dynamic language used for scripting), which overtook C++ to take the third spot. In fifth position was R, which may be a surprise to some but continues the growing popularity for “modern big-data languages.”

And some big tech names are also making their presence felt in the rankings, after Google’s Go (ranked tenth) just beat Apple’s Swift for inclusion in the Top Ten. But the survey noted that the rise of Swift is impressive as it has jumped five positions to 11th place since last year.

Other notable entries are HTML in sixteenth position.

The organisers point out that Shell programming seems to have been the biggest loser in the past year. Shell programming is a catchall term for the creation of scripts commonly used by system admins, and may “reflect the development of more sophisticated systems to manage cloud-based data centres,” said the survey creators.

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Author: Tom Jowitt
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