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IEEE Helps You Make Sense out of Programming Language Rankings

| by Michael Stiefel Follow 6 Followers on Jul 31, 2017. Estimated reading time: 1 minute |

Unlike other programming language surveys, the IEEE Programming Language Survey gives you the ability to interactively alter the weights on the ranking criteria. Applying 12 metrics to 10 data sources, they rank 48 languages. They also explain their design, methods, and data sources.

Several preset rankings are given: for a typical reader of the IEEE Spectrum, emerging trends, employer interest, and open source. You can also filter based on industry sector: web, mobile, enterprise, or embedded. You can compare the results to a previous year. Changing the weights on the various data sources allows changing how much importance you want to give them. One of the survey's data sources is the IEEE Xplore Digital Library of conference and journal articles about scientific and engineering.

Using the default ranking for a typical reader of the IEEE Spectrum, the top ten languages are Python, C, Java, C++, and C#, R, JavaScript, PHP, Go, and Swift. Even FORTRAN and COBOL still appear in the list. The top ten trending languages for all industry sectors are Python, C, C++, Java, Swift, JavaScript, Go, R, and C#. If you look at what is trending in the mobile sector only, you find: C, C++, Java, Swift, JavaScript, C#, Scala, Objective C, Delphi, and Scheme.

The IEEE survey is more flexible than other language surveys. Richard Eng writing in TechBeacon discusses the usefulness of 12 different surveys. For example, the latest RedMonk survey is based on the raw lines of code in GitHub repositories and Stack Overflow language tags. As such, it only reflects open source projects. Their top five languages are JavaScript, Java, Python, PHP, and C#. This survey does not offer a statistically valid representation of current use. It tries to relate language discussion (Stack Overflow) with use (GitHub) in an effort to extract insights about potential future adoption trends.

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RedMonk's Biggest Flaw is JavaScript by Richard Eng

RedMonk has one other major statistical flaw, the biggest one, as far as I'm concerned. It ranks JavaScript at the top. It's a serious over-representation because every time a web project is stored in a GitHub repository, irrespective of the programming language used, JavaScript is also counted (because what web project doesn't have at least some JavaScript?). JavaScript is the only language native to the web browser, so whether you're using PHP or Java or Python or Ruby or whatever, some JavaScript must still be present.

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