Java, JavaScript, C#? No, Python is the fastest growing programming language

Python is now the fastest-growing major programming language, according to Stack Overflow.
Written by Liam Tung, Contributing Writer

Visits to Python-tagged questions have overtaken Java and JavaScript for the first time.

Image: Stack Overflow

Already highly popular, Python could also be the fastest-growing major programming language, according to Stack Overflow, a site that helps developers solve coding questions.

The company estimates Python's growing popularity based on the percentage of visits to pages containing questions with a Python tag.

This method should provide a reasonable indicator of trends in programming languages since the site attracts about 40 million visitors a month, of which an estimated 16.8 million visitors are professional developers and university-level students.

In June for the first time, visits to Python-tagged questions edged past Java and JavaScript, which historically have had the highest share of visits from users in high-income nations, such as the US, UK, and Germany.

Other languages that Stack Overflow considers major include C#, PHP, and C++, but not Apple's Swift, Google's Go, and Microsoft's TypeScript.

"We make the case that Python has a solid claim to being the fastest-growing major programming language," said Stack Overflow data scientist David Robinson.

Python has become the most visited tag in the US and UK, and is in the top two in most other high-income nations, which include Canada, countries in Western Europe, and Australia and New Zealand.

The popularity of languages is influenced by factors such as education and wealth. Since Java is widely taught in undergraduate classes, its traffic rises in fall and spring and declines in summer.

Among countries not considered wealthy, Python is the eighth most-visited tag. There has also been more interest in R from high-income nations than poorer nations.

This pattern may be due to Python's and R's use in science and academic research, which generally form a larger part of wealthier nations' economy than less developed nations, Robinson has previously suggested.

However, even in non-wealthy nations, Python is the fastest-growing major language and is actually growing faster year on year than in wealthy countries.

As noted by ZDNet's sister site, Tech Republic, the Python Software Foundation believes Python is popular because of its versatility, which sees it used in system operations, web development, deployment and scientific modeling.

Robinson predicts that traffic to Python-tagged questions will continue to grow next year while traffic to JavaScript and Java will remain static.

Other fast-growing but less-popular languages include Microsoft's TypeScript, Apple's Swift, Rust, and the Google-developed Go. However Python stands out as an already popular language that is also fast growing.

"Python is an unusual case for being both one of the most visited tags on Stack Overflow and one of the fastest-growing ones. Incidentally, it is also accelerating. Its year-over-year growth has become faster each year since 2013," writes Robinson.

Python also ranked highly in Stack Overflow's 2017 developer survey, which found it was the fifth most popular language behind JavaScript, SQL, Java, and C#. It was also the top language respondents wanted to learn.

However, IEEE Spectrum earlier this year ranked Python as the top language, ahead of C, Java, C++, C#, R, JavaScript PHP, Google's Go, and Apple's Swift.

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