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Apple’s Swift programming language in top 20 list for the first time

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July 2, 2015

Earlier today, a new programming language survey reveals that Apple’s Swift language is breaking into the top twenty for the first time.

Meanwhile, the future of Microsoft’s Visual Basic (VB) in the top rankings is now unclear, according to the survey.

The 'Redmonk Consultancy' published the analysis based on Github usage and Stack Overflow discussions.

The calculations are an imperfect but reasonable method to assess language trends, since these communities are both important and vendor-neutral.

However, JavaScript is at the top by a narrow margin, followed by Java, PHP, Python, C#, C++ and Ruby. The last three are ranked fifth, however.

The order is unchanged from the previous survey, and Redmonk’s Stephen O'Grady said-- "The simple fact is that the group of the most popular languages has changed little and shows a small propensity for future change".

And as could be expected, the various points of interest are further down the rankings. In particular, Apple’s Swift (which the company said will be open source by the end of the year) has risen from 22 to 18, making it the top 20 for the first time.

But O’Grady was quick to point out that the rankings may have been artificially boosted by Apple’s WWDC event early last month.

Also, another growing programming language that seems to be gaining in popularity is Google’s Go, up from 17 to 15.

Since December of last year, it's possible to write complete Android apps in Go, and O’Grady speculates that if court decisions concerning Java continue to swing against Google, its usage could potentially increase somewhat.

Erlang usage is also growing slightly, thanks to its high suitability for concurrent programming, and both Julia and Rust have made small rises as well.

So you might ask, what’s on the way down? CoffeeScript, Dart and Visual Basic (VB). VB remains popular, at number 19, although O’Grady said that the future of VB in the Top 20 is very unclear at this point in time.

VB’s English-like syntax and avoidance of curly braces and semi-colons make it approachable for beginners, but the roots of its decline go back to 1999-2000 when Microsoft announced both C# and its .NET Framework.

At the time, VB was riding high among Windows developers, and the company attempted to migrate VB developers to .NET by creating Visual Basic .NET, similar but incompatible with earlier versions.

Since C# was designed for .NET, many VB programmers and developers moved in that direction rather than learning a new dialect.

Today, C# is somewhat more popular, particularly among professionals. As for C# its future will depend to some extent on Microsoft’s success (or otherwise) in stimulating interest in Windows programming with the Windows 10 release, and in using C# and .NET on other platforms with the open source .NET Core project.

Source: Microsoft.

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