Programming Language Popularity

Mon, Aug 30, 2010

Which programming language you choose to work in (if it is your choice) affects your productivity, satisfaction and much more. Not only that, but working in a trending language will probably affect your business or your career. Last year Paul Graham talked about trends for the future at the Business of Software conference, where he said the following:

I think you are going to see a succession of new popular languages. So I would bet on what ever the next popular language is (this sounds like stupid advice) but what ever the next hot language is, I would advice using it.
I've been dabbling in clojure, python and ruby recently and since I've been thinking a lot about programming languages I thought it would be interesting to see what Google Trends thinks about the topic of programming languages.

The chart you get when you put in all the languages of interest is kind of useless, so I made three charts (in a descending order of popularity):

Java, C# and PHP

Nothing surprising there, really. Java, PHP declining as you'd expect.

Ruby & Python

This is pretty interesting, I thought ruby would've been a more popular search term.

Clojure, Haskell, node.js & Erlang:

This is where it gets more interesting. Node.js has in a short time caught up with clojure's popularity. I also believe, since there are so many javascript developers out there, that it should be easy for node.js to pick up steam and become even more popular.

Of course, I should mention that Haskell is also a relatively common name, a university, etc, so the searches might be a little skewed. Thanks to @JonGretar for that tidbit of info.

Number of search results

Another metric that's nice to look into, especially if you're interested into learning a new language, is how many websites are out there covering the topic. So I did a google search for all those languages (I added "programming" to the language to make sure only to get programming related search results) and organized them in ascending order of popularity.
Search term Search results
clojure programming 215,000
erlang programming 714,000
node.js programming 760,000
haskell programming 1,420,000
ruby programming 2,030,000
python programming 8,640,000
c# programming 12,800,000
java programming 40,600,000
php programming 70,200,000
Number of search results

Of course Google's result count is only an estimate, so it shouldn't really be used as a scientific reference, but it still gives you at least an idea of how many resources are out there.