Java Still Number One, But What’s Taking Over?

| by Tim Hodkinson Follow 12 Followers on Aug 11, 2017. Estimated reading time: 2 minutes |

The TIOBE index for August 2017 shows Java as the world’s number one programming language in terms of popularity, but interest continues to fall. However, studying the top 20 rankings, it seems that is the same trend with all of the major programming languages. So where are developers going? TIOBE reports that several new languages are filling the gap by increasing their share of the programmer mindset.

Java still holds twice as much share of the index as its next most popular rival, C, but both languages have seen significant drops in their popularity in the last year. Another twelve of the languages in the top 20 have also seen a drop, while the combined increase of 1.34% in the remaining six (Visual Basic .NET, R, Go, MATLAB, Scratch and Dart) falls far short of the drop of 6.05% incurred by Java alone.

TIOBE sees an upsurge of interest in a group of new languages, calling out Crystal, Kotlin, Clojure, Hack and Julia for special mention. Their overall share of the index is small (all less than 1%) but the speed of their uptake is enough to take notice. Ruby cousin Crystal in particular leapt from position 60 to 32 in one month. Crystal advocate Santiago Palladino tweeted that this was not surprising, now that more companies are using Crystal in production environments.

A factor in the rise of Jetbrains’ Kotlin JVM language is probably Google’s adoption and advocacy of the language for Android development in May of this year. A Google trends search shows a sharp upsurge in Kotlin around that time. The Spring Framework also announced support for Kotlin in January.

Hadi Hariri from Jetbrains concurred on the influence of Google, but stated that Kotlin has been steadily on the rise even before the announcement. He told InfoQ:

We assume the spike on the TIOBE index has been associated with the Google I/O announcement. Independent of this we've also seen an increase of Kotlin adoption since the time of release which was over a year ago, and an 8-fold increase in Kotlin lines of code on GitHub projects from the release of 1.0 to 1.1 (released in February this year).

While seeing some relevance in Kotlin’s rank in the TIOBE index, Hadi says that ultimately "the continuous increase in Kotlin adoption is what is more important."

The TIOBE Programming Community Index (to give it its official title) is published monthly and reflects the relative popularity of programming languages. It derives the rankings from the number of skilled engineers world-wide, courses and third party vendors using data collected from the main search engines. This month’s edition contains extra analysis of trends over the last 12 months. Languages must be Turing Complete to be included. 

Rate this Article

Adoption Stage

Hello stranger!

You need to Register an InfoQ account or or login to post comments. But there's so much more behind being registered.

Get the most out of the InfoQ experience.

Tell us what you think

Allowed html: a,b,br,blockquote,i,li,pre,u,ul,p

Email me replies to any of my messages in this thread

Weird rank ... by Fanime Fartoon

I think this rank is kind of weird or does anyone really believe that visual basic is more popular than javascript?
I mean, JS is everywhere these days, from browser to the server.. where is visual basic and python? really ...

Bullshit by Serge Bureau

Kotlin, no interest

Re: Bullshit by Victor Grazi

Thanks for registering your opinion. This is very helpful. Care to contribute your reasons, or should the entire civilized planet just take it on your word?

Re: Bullshit by Serge Bureau

On a civilized planet we are not inventing facts, I repeat "Kotlin, no interest"

Re: Bullshit by Cameron Purdy

I repeat "Kotlin, no interest"

No interest for 12 months. 19.6% APR thereafter. Minimum finance charge $15. Some restrictions apply.

Allowed html: a,b,br,blockquote,i,li,pre,u,ul,p

Email me replies to any of my messages in this thread

Allowed html: a,b,br,blockquote,i,li,pre,u,ul,p

Email me replies to any of my messages in this thread

5 Discuss

Login to InfoQ to interact with what matters most to you.

Recover your password...


Follow your favorite topics and editors

Quick overview of most important highlights in the industry and on the site.


More signal, less noise

Build your own feed by choosing topics you want to read about and editors you want to hear from.


Stay up-to-date

Set up your notifications and don't miss out on content that matters to you