Friday, June 10, 2005

Programming Languages – What’s Hot and What’s Not?

Programming languages go in and out of fashion like the clothes you see on display at the shopping mall. In reviewing what’s currently hot and what is not, I found several new programming languages that leverage the web. Codecrawler is one example which searches and indexes source code stored on the web. This facilitates groups working in a cross-geographic setting. There are many other examples of niche programming languages. They typically do or two things in a very cool way, but they lack robustness to become an industry leader.

Java, one of the hotter technologies in the programming language world recently turned 10. The first press release heralded Java as "the first language to provide a comprehensive solution to the challenges of programming for the Internet, providing portability, security, advanced networking and robustness without compromising performance." Java is no doubt a successful language. Factors such as portability, strong community support, and standards served it well. But is it still hot?

One way to gauge programming language popularity is to look at book sales for that language. The O’Reilly Blog tracks book sales to see trends in the industry. According to their blog, computer science books dropped 20% per year since 2001, but are now seeing an upturn. The choice of computer languages is somewhat insightful. C# is outpacing Java. Java was down by 10%, Visual Basic was down by 23%, C/C++ was down 4%. Object-oriented programming languages are up 245% and Patterns is up 55%. A new title that may be pushing up the numbers here is Head First Design Patterns.

Another way to gauge popularity is to use Google hits. In this blog the author attempts to quantify Google searches to find out what programmers use today. In it he found that C# and Java are still widely used.

Also, he used the Craigslist to find out what jobs are open for each programming language. Again, C# and Java come to the top of the list, but IT languages such as SQL and COBOL also come up in the top tier as well.

If you want to see an historical perspective of programming languages this site provides a poster-sized view.

If you are working with programming languages, I would like to hear from you. Please email me at hall.martin@ni.com.
Best regards,
Hall T. Martin

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