It’s been another see-saw year for the Java programming language, with continued buoyancy of the platform throughout the year offset with the news that Oracle had trimmed its evangelism team, and this month’s decision to postpone the release of Java 9 for an additional six months. Overall however, Java will be ending 2015 – the year of its twentieth anniversary – on a high. In fact, Java’s popularity has been so steady over the past few months, it’s been crowned the TIOBE programming language of the year.
Year on year, thanks to the strong uptake of Java 8 and popularity of Android, the language has risen a full 6.01% in popularity on the TIOBE – a change the Index compilers write is in stark contrast to the near 8% drop for Objective C over the past 12 months, pushing it from 3rd in the league down to number 15. Conversely, lower down the league, Objective C heir Swift has ascended three places from 14 to 17. With Apple’s official open sourcing of the language last week, along with the addition of Linux support and server-side language features, the doors have been effectively thrown open for pollination in a host of new language ecosystems.
As ever, it’s worth remembering that the TIOBE Index often comes under scrutiny for its methodologies, and other different rankings often come up with wildly varied results. However, as a measure of just how strong a year it’s been for the ecosystem overall, this certainly is a positive indicator. Java’s strong performance in the TIOBE is echoed elsewhere in the PYPL PopularitY of Programming Language Index, which is concocted by analyzing how frequently language tutorials are searched on Google. Over the past year, Java saw a modest +0.4% boost in popularity, once again finishing the year at the top of the table.
Looking ahead to next year, it’s a certainty that this relative newcomer is on course to continue soaring in popularity over the next twelve months, in tandem to the fall of Objective C. As we’ve mentioned, a wide swath of Java’s popularity is down to the Android platform. Whilst it’s unlikely Swift is going to be nibbling on Java’s lead anytime soon, it’ll be interesting to see what impact this shift has on Android’s mind share over time.
Another interesting mover and shaker on the index this time around is popular teaching tool Python, which is now sitting an “all time high” at number 4 in the index – up from 8 last year. As the compilers highlight, its increasing popularity comes down to its versatility, widespread industry acceptance, and relatively gentle learning curve.