Programming Language Rankings by GitHub and Stack Overflow

Developers often discuss which languages are best, or which are on the rise. How would you rank the popularity of a programming language? The consultants from RedMonk (Drew Conway and John Myles White) have prepared an analysis of the most popular languages comparing the relative performance of the programming languages on GitHub and Stack Overflow. Find out in the blog post below what are the most popular programming languages of today.

Drew Conway and John Myles White have been performing the same analysis since 2010. The last one is for January, 2015. The idea was not to offer a statistically valid representation of the current usage, but rather the collate language usage (GitHub) and discussion (Stack Overflow) in an effort to present possible future trends. While neither metric gives straightforward data, they decided to exploit the data on GitHub and Stack Overflow to measure each respectively. GitHub provides a popularity ranking for each language based on the number of projects and Stack Overflow provides the number of questions tagged for each language.

The chart shows the results of the data collection, where high ranking values indicate greater popularity, for example, the most popular languages in each dimension are in the upper-right of the chart. It is important to mention, that to be included in this analysis, the language must be observable within both GitHub and Stack Overflow. Also, the metrics are highly correlated and the rankings have a correlation of almost 0.8.

Drew Conway and John Myles White also provide a numerical ranking of popularity. Some results produced several ties which are reflected below:
1. JavaScript;
2. Java;
3. PHP;
4. Python;
5. C#;
5. C++;
5. Ruby;
8. CSS;
9. C;
10. Objective-C;
11. Perl;
11. Shell;
13. R;
14. Scala;
15. Haskell;
16. Matlab;
17. Go;
17. Visual Basic;
19. Clojure;
19. Groovy.

Click to enlarge the chart

JavaScript edged out Java for the top spot in the rankings, but the difference between the two is so marginal as to be insignificant.  PHP has not shown an ability to unseat either Java or JavaScript, but it has remained unassailable for its part in third place. After a brief drop in 2014, Python has been stable in fourth place, and the rest of the Top 10 looks much the same as for the last several quarters.

The biggest jump has been made by the programming language Swift. During the last rankings, Swift was listed as the language to watch. Being officially presented as the future standard for iOS applications was obviously going to lead to itsgrowth. Swift has gone from 68th ranked language during Q3 2014 to number 22 the last quarter, a jump of 46 spots. It seems reasonable to expect that Q3 rankings of 2015 will see Swift in the Top 20 language.

Also, in our previous blog post you can find the answer to question – When is too late to start programming? Probably, you can start with Java and JavaScript and check-out our page of open vacancies at Softheme: