​Java and JavaScript rule but use of Apple's Swift language skyrockets

Just a few months after Apple released Swift for iOS, the language has become one of the most popular for developers.

Developers' use of Apple's Swift programming language, designed for building apps for iOS and OS X, has skyrocketed since its September release, according to a new report.

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Image: RedMonk

Apple only released version 1.0 of Swift in September but the replacement to Objective-C is already the 22nd most popular language, up 46 spots from three months ago, according to analyst firm RedMonk's language rankings for the fourth quarter of 2014.

Growth like that is "unprecedented" in the firm's four years of ranking programming languages, according to RedMonk analyst Stephen O'Grady.

"When we see dramatic growth from a language it typically has jumped somewhere between five and 10 spots, and the closer the language gets to the Top 20 or within it, the more difficult growth is to come by," he noted.

The rankings are based on a correlation of language discussions on Stack Overflow and language usage on GitHub.

While it may be unprecedented, Swift's rapid ascent might not be surprising given Apple's stamp of approval for it as the iOS language of the future and the fact it has nine million registered developers who want their wares to reach Apple's iOS user base.

Still, Swift remains well behind the leading languages used by developers - 20 year old Java and JavaScript.

The two languages are followed by PHP, Python, C#, C++, Ruby, CSS, C and Objective-C, which make up the top 10. The top 20 also include Perl, Shell, R, Scala, Haskell, Matlab, Go, Visual Basic, Clojure and Groovy.

"The most important takeaway is that the language frequently written off for dead and the language sometimes touted as the future have shown sustained growth and traction and remain, according to this measure, the most popular offerings," O'Grady noted, referring to debate over the death of 20 year old Java at the expense of newer languages for web development such as PHP and Ruby on Rails.

Go, a language developed within Google, rose above Visual Basic, Clojure, Groovy and CoffeeScript to take 17th place, with support the latter language appearing to be eroding, according to O'Grady.

Rust, a language developed by the Mozilla Research project, just hit alpha version 1.0, and jumped eight spots to 50th most popular language.

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