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December 05, 2019
The Queen of Programming Languages with 11M+ Users

The choice of programming language matters deeply to developers because they want to keep their skills up to date and marketable. Programming Languages are a beloved subject of debate and the kernels of some of the strongest developer communities. They matter to toolmakers too, as they want to make sure they provide the most useful SDKs.

Here is an update on Programming Language Communities, from our State of the Developer Nation Report 17th Edition.

It can be hard to assess how widely used a programming language is. The indices available from players like Tiobe, Redmonk, Stack Overflow’s yearly survey, or Github’s Octoverse are great, but mostly offer only relative comparisons between languages, providing no sense of the absolute size of each community. They may also be biased geographically, or skewed towards certain fields of software development, or open source developers.

The estimates we present here look at active software developers using each programming language, across the globe and across all kinds of programmers.

They are based on two pieces of data:

First, our independent estimate of the global number of software developers, which we published for the first time in 2017. We estimate that in mid 2019 there are 18 million active software developers in the world.

Second, our large-scale, low-bias surveys which reach tens of thousands of developers every six months. In the surveys, we consistently ask developers about their use of programming languages across ten areas of development, giving us rich and reliable information about who uses each language and in which context.

JAVASCRIPT REMAINS QUEEN OF PROGRAMMING LANGUAGES

11M+ developers use Javascript

The most popular programming language by a wide margin is Javascript, including derivatives like TypeScript and CoffeeScript. The Javascript community counts over 11 million active developers. Even in software sectors where Javascript is least popular like machine learning or on-device code in IoT, over a fifth of developers use it for their projects. 

Programming language communities Q2 2019
Programming language communities Q2 2019

The rise of machine learning is a clear factor in the success of Python:

8 in 10 machine learning developers use Python in their work (compared to just 25% using R, the other language often associated with data science). Java, of course, is a cornerstone of the mobile app ecosystem (Android) as well as a great general-purpose language.

Language use is not static: developers drop and adopt new languages all the time

It would appear that it is not meaningful to speak of “Java developers” or “Python developers” in any fundamental sense, other than that they use those languages at a certain point in time. While we see a net decline in the use of most languages by our repeat respondents, some languages reverse that trend and show significant growth. The first of these is Kotlin, which we are confident to say is the rising star in the programming language firmament.

Kotlin’s rank among programming languages moved from 11th to 8th place in just a year, and one in ten developers now use the language.

Rank of programming language communities 2017-2019
Rank of programming language communities 2017-2019

Tracking the ever-changing landscape of the software development ecosystem is why we run our Developer Economics surveys twice a year and there is one live right now. To track changes on programming languages, tools and platforms we need you to share with us your coding experiences!  We would be very interested to know what programming languages, hardware, frameworks and platforms you use, and the types of projects you’re working on.

Has the new Oculus Quest piqued your interest and restarted the heart of VR development? Or is AR and mixed reality where it really is? Help us tell the technology leaders what you think, and by doing so become part of the change you want to see in the tools you use.


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