Programming languages: Developers now ask more questions about Python than JavaScript on Stack Overflow

Rise in queries driven by interest in Python and community of new programmers.
Written by Liam Tung, Contributing Writer

Widely-used Python has now overtaken JavaScript as the programming language developers are most likely to have questions about on knowledge-sharing site Stack Overflow. 

Python is already one of the most-loved programming languages, according to Stack Overflow's recently released 2019 developer survey. Now, going into 2019 it has overtaken JavaScript as the language that developers on the site have asked the most questions about, according to numbers crunched by app-testing outfit Global App Testing.

JavaScript remains the language with the most total number of question tags on Stack Overflow, which currently number 1.76 million since Stack Overflow's 2008 launch. Java, C#, PHP, and Python have between 1 million and 1.5 million question tags per language. Following this group are languages with between 650,000 and 200,000 questions, which include C++, SQL, Objective-C, R, Swift, and Ruby. 

Global App Testing's Nick Roberts speculates JavaScript's dominance on Stack Overflow is because of the breadth of applications and services it's used for and its widespread usage on the internet. 

SEE: Python is eating the world: How one developer's side project became the hottest programming language on the planet (cover story PDF) (TechRepublic)

Python's ascent can be seen by looking at the percentage of questions tagged either "#javascript" or "#python" each month over time. Python is actually six years older than 23-year-old JavaScript but JavaScript has had a significantly higher share of tagged questions per month each year since 2008.     

Roberts takes 2012 as an inflection point for Python after the Harvard Business Review named data scientist the "sexiest job of the 21st Century". Yet the only language the article references is Java. 

"Since then, Python - one of the go-to-languages of data scientists - has been ever-growing in popularity… so much so that going into 2019 it has dethroned JavaScript as StackOverflow's most-questioned programming language," writes Roberts. 

Python usage has been driven up by the rise in machine learning as well as its use in academic research and other circles, including finance. As reported by Business Insider recently, British banking giant Barclays recently started publishing internal blogs, online courses and templates to teach traders how to code in Python, so they can run run their own post-trade analysis and bypass a bottleneck caused by a limited number of quantitative analysts or "quants".


Python now draws more questions per month on Stack Overflow than JavaScript.

Global App Testing

But Python's growth could mean one of two things: it's either fast becoming the most popular programming language, or it has attracted a bigger proportion of new coders keen to solve challenges on the site. 

Whatever the reason, by November 2018 Python's share of questions asked each month on Stack Overflow rose to 11.3 percent, ahead of JavaScript's share of 10.2 percent. Questions about Java made up 7.6 percent, while C# questions amounted to 5.3 percent. 

Python's rise measured by monthly questions on Stack Overflow matches its rise in several language popularity indexes, such as search engine-based the TIOBE index, IEEE Spectrum's index, and PYPL.    

The main questions developers have about Python revolve around "pandas", a data-analysis package or software library for Python. That was the fastest growing Python-related tag on Stack Overflow in 2017. The Django web framework is also a frequently asked Python question. 


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