Python Remains the Most Popular Programming Language

By John Russell

August 7, 2018

Once again, Python is the most popular programming language according IEEE Spectrum’s fifth annual interactive ranking of programming languages published last week. C++ and C followed closely in this year’s snapshot which is based on data gathered in June 2018. Gauging “popularity”, of course, is tricky and IEEE Spectrum’s interactive report allows some slicing and dicing of the data and focusing on languages by area of greatest use. It’s fun exercise.

Here what IEEE Spectrum writer Stephen Cass has to say:

“Python has tightened its grip on the No. 1 spot. Last year it came out on top by just barely beating out C, with Python’s score of 100 to C’s 99.7. But this year, there’s a wider gap between first and second place, with C++ coming in at 98.4 for the No. 2 slot (last year, Java had come third with a score of 99.4, while this year its fallen to 4th place with a score of 97.5). C has fallen to third place, with a score of 98.2.

“Why is Python continuing to gain programmer mindshare? Two other changes in the Top Programming Languages may give a hint as to why.

“First, Python is now listed as an embedded language. Previously, writing for embedded applications tilted heavily toward compiled languages, to avoid the overhead of evaluating code on the fly on machines with limited processing power and memory. But while Moore’s Law may be fading, it’s not dead yet. Many modern microcontrollers now have more than enough power to host a Python interpreter. A nice aspect of using Python this way is that it is very handy in certain applications to play with attached hardware via an interactive prompt or dynamically reload scripts on the fly. Growing into a new domain can only help boost Python’s popularity.” (See top ten list below)

The report writers started with a list of more than 300 programming languages found on GitHub and winnowed that down to 47 languages: “[We] looked at the volume of results found on Google when we searched for each one in using the template “X programming” where “X” is the name of the language. We filtered out languages that had a very low number of search results and then went through the remaining entries by hand to narrow them down to the most interesting. We labeled each language according to whether or not it finds significant use in one or more of the following categories: Web, mobile, enterprise/desktop, or embedded environments.”

Sources used to determine popularity included Google Search, Google Trends, Twitter, GitHub, Stack Overflow, Reddit, Hacker News, CareerBuilder, Dice, and IEEE Explore Digital Library. (Link to methodology used)

Link to IEEE Spectrum interactive report: https://spectrum.ieee.org/at-work/innovation/the-2018-top-programming-languages

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