Four programming languages rule, but one new alternative is on the rise

While the most used programming languages move ahead of their competition, there is still room for new options for developers.
Written by Liam Tung, Contributing Writer
Image: Getty Images/Maskot

The Rust programming language is gaining in popularity among developers, according to the most recent update from software quality firm Tiobe's language index. 

Rust has risen to 20th position in October, up from 26th this time a year ago. It's the second time it's been in Tiobe's top 20 after peaking at 18th position in September 2020, a few months after it reached version 1.0

Paul Jansen, CEO of Tiobe Software, sees Rust as a "small threat" for C and C++ – the two languages that some developers believe Rust should replace for new projects due to its better management of memory security. 

Also: The most popular programming languages and where to learn them

Despite rising in popularity, Rust remains well behind C and C++, which are even more entrenched in the top five most popular languages than they were last year. As Jensen notes, the top four, which include Python, Java, C and C++, now have a share of 55%, up from 40% last year. 

"This is an indication that there is not much room for competition at the moment. Java's main competitor C# is losing ground, whereas Python competitors R and Ruby are more or less stabilizing," writes Jensen. 

"However, for C and C++ there is one small threat arising on the horizon: the programming language Rust. Rust re-entered the top 20 again with an all-time high market share of 0.70%. Rust focuses on performance and type safety. One of the reasons for Rust's increasing popularity is that Google started programming low-level parts of Android in the Rust language."

The Android Open Source Project began using Rust for new Android code in 2021. Linux kernel developers are also now putting in place the parts for Rust to be a second language to C in the kernel. 

While Rust has a small estimated share of developers, Rust has been crowned the "most loved" language in Stack Overflow's past few annual developer surveys. Another language that has seen a rise in popularity, according to Tiobe, is Objective-C.

There are a number of different programming language rankings, each of which measure coding-language popularity slightly differently. Tiobe says its rankings are based on the number of skilled engineers worldwide, courses and third-party vendors. It also uses popular search engines to calculate the ratings. The top 10 languages: Python, C, Java, C++, C#, Visual Basic, Javascript, Assembly Language, PHP, and SQL.

IEEE Spectrum's top programming languages for 2022 are slightly different to Tiobe's, but Python is also the top language. It's followed by C, C++, C#, Java, SQL, JavaScript, R, HTML, TypeScript. 

RedMonk's top 10 languages are JavaScript, Python, Java, PHP, CSS, C#, C++, TypeScript, Ruby, and C. Rust is in 19th position with Dart. 

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