The fastest growing language community in percentage terms is Kotlin. In fact, it’s one of the two communities – the other being Rust – that has grown more than two-fold over the last three years, from 1.1M developers in Q4 2017 to 2.6M in Q1 2021. This is also very
evident from Kotlin’s ranking, where it moved from 11th to eight place during that period – a trend that’s largely attributed to Google’s decision to make Kotlin its preferred language for Android development. Even so, Kotlin still has a long way to go to catch up with the leading language in mobile development, Java; there are currently twice as many mobile developers building applications in Java than in Kotlin.
Swift was recently outranked by Kotlin, after attracting slightly fewer net new developers in the second half of 2020 (100K vs 300K). Even so, Swift is currently the default language for development across all Apple platforms, which has led to a stagnation in the adoption of Objective C. This gradual phase-out of Objective C from the Apple app ecosystem is also matched by a significant drop in its rank, from ninth to 12th place.
The more niche languages – Go, Ruby, Rust, and Lua – are still much smaller, with up to 2.1M active software developers each. Go and Ruby are important languages in backend development, but Go has grown slightly faster in the past year, both in absolute and percentage terms. Rust has formed a very strong community of developers who care about performance, memory safety, and security. As a result, it grew faster than any other language in the last 12 months, more than doubling in size. Finally, Lua was also among the fastest growing language communities in the last year, mainly attracting AR/VR and IoT developers looking for a scripting alternative to low-level languages such as C and C++.
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