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Class move, Java. Coding language slips to third place behind Python in latest popularity contest

Rust enters the top 20, and yes, JavaScript is still number one

Python surpassed Java in Redmonk's latest biannual programming language ranking to take second place... by not doing anything.

Python usage, as measured by GitHub pull requests and Stack Overflow queries, remained flat over the past six months while the presence of Java code slipped from second place to third. Yes, JavaScript remains first.

"Ironically, the most notable 'winner' in this quarter’s rankings is Python, which did not move at all," wrote Stephen O'Grady, co-founder of the Redmonk consultancy, in a blog post on Monday. "But in assuming sole control of the number two spot in our rankings, Python is the first non-Java or JavaScript language ever to place in the top two of these rankings by itself, and would not have been the obvious choice for that distinction in years past."

When last Redmonk published its programming popularity measurements in March, Python and Java were tied for second place behind JavaScript, which remains the overall leader.

O'Grady goes to great lengths to urge people not to read too much into these figures, noting that Redmonk's rankings, which began in 2012, are simply a look at data correlations between GitHub and Stack Overflow.

While stressing that Java use remains widespread, he allows that competition among programming languages is fierce and that Java's prominence among enterprises will continue for years though isn't guaranteed. He suggests that it's worth paying attention to Java in the coming quarters to determine whether its decline is a statistical blip or an indicator of gradually dwindling prospects.

Redmonk's Top 20 as of July are:

  1. JavaScript
  2. Python
  3. Java
  4. PHP
  5. C++
  6. C#
  7. Ruby
  8. CSS
  9. TypeScript
  10. C
  11. Swift
  12. Objective-C
  13. R
  14. Scala
  15. Go
  16. Shell
  17. PowerShell
  18. Perl
  19. Kotlin
  20. Rust

This particular sampling of languages doesn't show a lot of movement – the positions of Kotlin, Dart, TypeScript, and Julia, trendy languages all, remain unchanged.

One that did advance was Rust, which moved into the top 20 for the first time. Five years ago, it was at position 48.

"Its focus on the construction of secure applications is of particular and growing importance, and contributes to Rust’s usage in more and more high profile projects," said O'Grady.

For the past five years, Rust has been the most beloved programming language in Stack Overflow's annual survey and given the role of Stack Overflow data in Redmonk's rankings, it's not surprising to see the language doing well. Rust looks like it will play a more prominent role on the edges of Linux kernel development, in innovative projects like Deno, and at companies like Microsoft.

At the same time, O'Grady expects that Rust, like Go, won't rise much beyond the mid-teens in ranking because of its systems-level focus and complexity relative to more accessible languages.

Another programming language comparison, the Tiobe Index, puts C at the top for July, followed by Java and Python. Tiobe's measurement also suggests that Java popularity has declined since July 2019 when it held the number one spot.

The Tiobe Index shows a surprising surge by the statistics-oriented R programming language – possibly attributable to COVID-19-related data science – and upticks for Rust, Kotlin, and Delphi/Object Pascal. ®

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