Growing programming languages, June 2015

Steve O’Grady published another edition of his great popularity study on programming languages: RedMonk Programming Language Rankings: June 2015.

As usual, it is a very valuable piece. There are many take-away from this research. I will not go over Steve O’Grady findings, but what I found interesting is:

  • Open Source and license matters. For two of the hot languages, Erlang and Swift, we have seen important changes in licensing that may have an impact in the coming months.

    • Erlang changed its license from its Erlang Public License to a more widely accepted Apache V2. Steve O’Grady notes that it will not change language popularity but will remove friction for adoption and will make the language more attractive for large contributors. It is worth noting that Erlang is still growing and is now in the top 25, thanks to the amazing projects build with it.
    • Apple announced that Swift will be open source by end of the year, with a Linux version coming at the same time. This was a much needed change that will expand the community and accelerate the adoption of one of the fastest growing programming languages.
  • There are 4 booming programming languages: Go, Swift, Rust and Julia. Go and Rust are competing for the same type of projects and developers. In a sense, with an open sourced Swift, it could reach the same target of system programming, even if it will be difficult to overshadow its mobile development roots. It will be interesting to see how those three languages evolves comparatively in the next research. Julia is a scientific language and evolves in its own niche space.

  • My current favorite, Elixir, is not progressing as fast as Rust, despite reaching version 1 and being developed at an incredible page under Jose Valim’s vision. My feeling is that it is still in developer projet inception phase and that it is winning the heart of Erlang developers first, and many Ruby developers. I expect it to grow slowly in the coming months, as Phoenix Web Framework matures.

The programming language space is still extremely interesting to see evolve and I am looking forward seeing what the developer community is doing with them. Actual projects are the language king makers. For example ejabberd has been critical for Erlang popularity. Docker project is boosting Go adoption. Let’s watch other big project to understand programming languages future.

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