Home RedMonk Programming Language Rankings: CoffeeScript and Java Make Gains

RedMonk Programming Language Rankings: CoffeeScript and Java Make Gains

Here’s a tip: If you want to gain traction with developers, having a name that calls caffeine to mind may not be a bad thing. OK, that may not be why CoffeeScript and Java are making gains on GitHub and Stack Overflow according to RedMonk’s February 2012 language rankings, but it probably doesn’t hurt.

RedMonk is using a ranking system developed by Drew Conway that pulls data from GitHub and Stack Overflow to gauge language popularity. They first looked at this in September of last year and came up with four tiers of languages.

In the first tier, you have the most popular languages like JavaScript, Java, C, C++, C#, Objective-C, Perl, Python, PHP, Ruby and shell scripts. The second tier has languages that are less widely used, but are still fairly popular like Clojure, CoffeeScript, Lisp (Emacs and Common, separately), Haskell, Lua, R, Scheme, Tcl and so on. The third tier is more obscure, with Ada, Racket, Smalltalk, Verilog and others. Finally, the fourth tier has even more obscure languages – at least in terms of the following on sites like GitHub and Stack Overflow. That includes Objective-J, Supercollider, Vala and Boo.

The caveat that this applies to very specific communities is important. As Stephen O’Grady said last September, “This is a measure of two specific communities, and therefore reflective of the respective biases in terms of usage of same. This kind of analysis is observational in nature, and therefore cannot be considered representative of the market as a whole.”

Changes Since 2011

O’Grady says that little has changed since the last survey, with a few exceptions. CoffeeScript has made impressive gains on GitHub and Stack Overflow. It’s jumped from 19th most popular to 13th most popular in six months. Says O’Grady, “the jump is even more significant since six new languages were added to GitHub’s list in that span.”

If you were predicting Java’s demise, says O’Grady, then you might want to reconsider. O’Grady says that it not only has the second most associated tags on Stack Overflow (C# is first, PHP is third as of this writing), but it’s the second highest growth language on GitHub and grew faster than the average on Stack. O’Grady says that Java’s popularity is also borne out on LinkedIn. (That’s based on the Java user group on LinkedIn growing faster than other tracked languages.)

Mozilla’s Rust is also gathering steam, and Go and R have grown quite a bit on Stack Overflow.

Looking at the language plot from February and the plot from September it’s easier to visualize the results. If you’re hoping to engage other GitHubbers and Stackers then you want to be looking at Red Monk’s first tier of languages. Java, JavaScript, Python, C#, C++ and so forth. It’s interesting that Perl is hanging in so well, given the number of times you hear that it’s “dying.”

How does this compare with what you’re using for work? Are GitHub and Stack Overflow reflecting what’s being used behind the corporate firewall? Any surprises here?

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