JavaScript supplants Java as top programming language

Spurred by wide utilization of reporting tools and app development, JavaScript surpassed Java in the latest RedMonk programming language rankings. As overall software development accelerates, organizations across all industries invest in data analysis tools and vibrant developer communities see what is possible in certain programming frameworks, most of the top languages were on the move in the recent rankings.

It's important to note, as RedMonk does, that the rankings are not based purely on which languages are the most widely used. Rather, a combination of their current usage, as well as the types of applications they are used for and their future potential, informed the final assessments.

"No claims are made here that these rankings are representative of general usage more broadly.," RedMonk stated. "They are nothing more or less than an examination of the correlation between two populations we believe to be predictive of future use, hence their value.

According to RedMonk, the top 10 programming languages are:

  1. JavaScript (+1 spot from the last ranking)
  2. Java (-1)
  3. PHP
  4. C# (+2)
  5. Python (-1)
  6. C++ (+1)
  7. Ruby (-2)
  8. C
  9. Objective-C
  10. CSS (new to the list)

Major takeaways from the rankings
One of the main findings RedMonk stressed is that the shifting power dynamic between JavaScript and Java takes a backseat to the fact that the two remain the most widely used programming languages in every survey. They form the foundation for many reporting tools and software development efforts and continue to inform tools aimed at programmers. They also noted that the gains for C# and C++ at the expense of Python and Ruby may indicate a "renaissance" for compiled languages. Overall, growing diversity among programming languages is a positive sign of both interest and investment in program development and will likely drive innovation in this area.

RedMonk created the rankings list by counting repository languages on GitHub and StackOverflow, the two most widely used public development communities. It stated that it toyed with several elements of its methodology, including an appropriate length of time through which to make evaluations. It decided that its findings would be most meaningful if they were released bi-annually, instead of quarterly. Programming languages had to meet several criteria in order to be eligible for analysis, including being observable on both GitHub and StackOverflow. Forking languages were discounted.

Is JavaScript the best language for beginners?
While JavaScript pulled RedMonk's top honors, ITworld contributor Phil Johnson argued that Python and C might be better options than JavaScript for first-time programmers. After an extensive informal survey of articles, comments and user contributions on forums such as Stack Exchange and Quora, Johnson determined that users often credited JavaScript with providing a good basis for basic programming methodologies and presented a simple user experience. It was also selected for its ubiquity and the variety of its applications.

C was also popular, despite a steeper initial learning curve - much of the support for C as the best first-time programming language emanated from its capacity to prepare users for learning other, more complex languages.

In selecting Python as the top language for budding programmers, Johnson stated that its ease of use created a low barrier to entry and a greater chance that a first-time user would be likely to keep working at mastery.


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