Top programming languages: C reigns supreme but third-ranked Python gains on Java
October 6, 2020
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TIOBE releases its monthly programming languages index to detail fluctuations across the landscape. Its latest index identifies granular changes as well as long-term trends.


Image: iStock/monsitj

Software quality assurance company, TIOBE, releases its top programming languages index each month to detail shifts in the ever-evolving landscape. TIOBE recently announced its latest updated index for October. TIOBE uses a series of metrics including searches on Amazon, YouTube, Wikipedia, Bing, Google Yahoo, and Baidu to determine the rankings. Overall, the top 10 saw no positional shifts since the September report, although there are granular data fluctuations and long-term changes to note.

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Top programming languages: TIOBE October index

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In the latest index, C remains in the top spot with a rating of 16.95% representing a positive 0.77% change over October 2019. C continued its reign at the top from last month when the programming language held a rating of 15.95%. In October of 2019, C was ranked number two according to the TIOBE index.

Java remains the runner-up in the latest rankings with a 12.56% rating. Overall, Java had a negative 4.32% change since last October; the largest swing (negative or positive) in the top 50. Python remains in the third position with an 11.28% rating. The index notes this is Python’s highest position since 2001. Python recorded a positive 2.19% change since last October; the largest uptick registered in the top 50. In order, C++, C#, Visual Basic, and JavaScript round out the remaining top seven.

C++, C#, Visual Basic, and JavaScript were rated in the same order in TIOBE’s October 2019 ratings. The eighth-ranked programming language, PHP, jumped one spot from the October 2019 ratings. The ninth-ranked language in the latest rankings, R, surged six spots since October 2019. In order, PHP, R, and SQL round out the remaining top 10.

Long-term changes across decades

Using an annual average for a 12-month period, TIOBE also provides information related position changes over the decades, illustrating long-term fluctuations in rankings. Based on these averages, some programming languages have consistently ranked near the top for more than 30 years, while others have surged in recent decades.

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Programming language C has ranked either first or second in 2020, 2015, 2010, 2005, 2000, 1995, and 1985 according to these rolling annual averages. Interestingly, Java ranked 29 in 1995, making a leap to third in 2000, and then to second 2005, using these annual averages. Python ranked 15th in 1995 before falling to 21 in 2000 and surging to the sixth spot in 2005, according to TIOBE’s rolling annual averages.

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