A woman at a computer with two screens showing code against a dark background. She’s using a programming language.
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What’s the best programming language to learn this year?

16 Jan 2019

Whether it’s your first programming language or you’re just adding a new string to your bow, keep an eye out for these ones that have grown in popularity.

With the tech talent shortage, proficiency in a programming language can almost always be considered a valuable skill. But which one should you choose?

The popularity of programming languages changes all the time. Some newer ones can gain traction and therefore become more popular among the programming community. Others can be in greater demand for the industry and therefore pay more.

According to Tiobe’s search engine-based ranking, Java has topped the latest list, having seen the largest rise of any language, closely followed by C and Python.

Tiobe is a world-recognised authority when it comes to programming language popularity. It takes data from hundreds of different sources and compiles it in an index based on a myriad of metrics, including the number of experienced engineers in a language, the amount of courses available and the search engine popularity for that language.

Java is widely used for building enterprise-scale web applications. It is known to be extremely stable, and so many large organisations have adopted it. Java and C are also both widely considered to be two of the easiest languages to learn.

Interestingly, though one of the most popular and well-known programming languages, Python has been slow to climb to the top of the Tiobe index. While it is widely considered as the best programming language for beginners and is the go-to language for a number of jobs in machine learning, web programming and statistical analysis, it only made it into the top three languages on the index in September 2018.

A likely cause of the sudden popularity for a language that has been around since the early ’90s is the fast-growing need for talent in data science. Data science still remains one of the hottest areas in the tech industry and the number of queries for Python and data science have shot up in recent years. Python has also climbed to the top spot in the PYPL Popularity of Programming Language Index, which measures the proportion of people searching for programming language tutorials, based on data from Google Trends.

Two newer languages to watch out for this year include Android app programming language Kotlin, which rose from 39th to 31st place, and Rust, which moved from 46th to 33rd place.

Tiobe forecasts that Kotlin will join the top 20 most popular languages this year. Indeed, the number of contributors using Kotlin to build projects hosted on GitHub more than doubled in 2018.

Meanwhile, Rust is a new system-level programming language that came in first place in the 2018 Stack OverFlow Developer Survey for developers’ most loved and wanted language.

Jenny Darmody
By Jenny Darmody

Jenny Darmody became the editor of Silicon Republic in 2023, having worked as the deputy editor since February 2020. When she’s not writing about the science and tech industry, she’s writing short stories and attempting novels. She continuously buys more books than she can read in a lifetime and pretty stationery is her kryptonite. She also believes seagulls to be the root of all evil and her baking is the stuff of legends.

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