Thursday, February 3, 2011

Random Thoughts on Tiobe Index January 2011

The Tiobe index is an index of the popularity of programming languages (formally defined here).
According to the Tiobe web site "the index can be used to check whether your programming skills are still up to date or to make a strategic decision about what programming language should be adopted when starting to build a new software system."

Some Data to Notice From the Index

As someone who has worked mainly in .NET through the last several years, my interest in the index focuses on .NET languages (and on my favorite language for recreational coding for some time now: Scala). The rankings of .NET languages in the January 2011 index are:
  • F# ranked between 50 and 100 (the index put these 50 in one big pile because differences the in scores are minuscule)
  • VB.NET at no. 49
  • PowerShell at no. 28
  • C# at no. 6

For perspective here are some selected other languages:

  • BETA ranked between 50 and 100
  • AWK at no. 31
  • T-SQL at no. 17
  • Ruby at no. 10
  • VB at no. 7
  • Python at no. 5

And also worth noticing is that Java, C and C++ take the top 3 spots, and have for a decade.

What I Get From That Data

Now what does this mean for a .NET developer?

  1. C# is hugely popular, but still much, much less popular than Java. Looking at the long term trend C# is steadlily gaining ground. So having and maintaining C# skills is a really good idea in terms of making a living.
  2. VB.NET is so unpopular it's almost off the a bad way. But (!) considering how the Tiobe index is done I don't think it distinguishes VB and VB.NET properly. So IMHO it's more fair to add the VB and VB.NET scores which would place VB.NET at 5th place - where VB is now. If this is true having VB.NET skills is a really good idea too, but the long term VB.NET trend is downwards, especially over the last couple of years. So maybe it's time to translate those VB.NET chops to C# chops?
  3. F# doesn't seem to be going anywhere. So don't learn F# for job security. Learn it to open your mind. But then again, if you want to open up your mind, and you're a .NET dev, why not look outside .NET and do Scala or Clojure or Erlang or something completly left field?
  4. PowerShell seems to be becoming important. Maybe it's time to really learn it.
 What does it mean for the .NET community?

  1. Assuming the VB and VB.NET points needs to be added C# and VB.NET combined would weigh in at a 3rd place, meaning that .NET is doing very, very well in terms of popularity. 
  2. Both Ruby and Python are doing very well. So if the Iron* languages are dropped an opportunity for engaging two very large communities is lost. That would be really sad!

Those were my 2 cents. Go check the index out, and make up your own mind. And let me know what you think :-)

Oh, and Scala is at place 50, just within the list proper. Still rooting for it :-)