Trying to decide which programming languages to study, whether prior to college, during it, or in continuing professional development can have a significant impact on your employment prospects and opportunities thereafter. Given this, periodic efforts have been made to rank the most important and popular languages over time, to give more insight into where’s the best place to focus one’s efforts.
IEEE Spectrum has just put together its fourth interactive list of top programming languages. The group designed the list to allow users to weight their own interests and use-cases independently. You can access the full list and sort it by language type (Web, Mobile, Enterprise, Embedded), fastest growing markets, general trends in usage, and languages popular specifically for open source development. You can also implement your own customized sorting methods.
Python has been rising for the past few years, but last year it was as far back as #3, whereas this year, it wins overall with a rank of 100. Python, C, Java, and C++ round out the top four, with all well above 95, while the fifth place contestant, C# (Microsoft’s own language, developed as part of its .NET framework) sits at a solid 88.6. The drop-off in spots #5-10 is never as large as the gap between C++ and C#, and the tenth language, Apple’s Swift, makes the list for the first time at 75.3 overall rank.
Previously popular languages like Ruby have fallen dramatically, which is part of why Swift has had the opportunity to rise. Apple’s predecessor language to Swift, Object-C, has fallen to 26th place as Apple transitions itself and developers over to the newer language.
How you adjust the languages and focus your criteria, in other words, leads to a fairly different distribution of languages. But while Python may have been IEEE’s overall top choice, it’s not necessarily the best choice if you’re trying to cover a lot of bases or hit broad targets. At least one variant of C is present in the Top 5 of every single category, and multiple categories have C, C++, and C# present in three of the Top 5 (the Web category is anomalous in this regard, as only C# makes it into the Top 5).
IEEE continues to refine its criteria and measurements and has applied these new weightings to the previous year’s results as well. If you want more information on how the company weights data or to see how languages compare year-on-year, all such information is available here.