Python's rise: Could it soon edge out C++ in programming language popularity?

Python climbs up TIOBE's search engine-based index of programming language popularity.
Written by Liam Tung, Contributing Writer

A boom in machine-learning applications continues to drive up the popularity of 27-year-old Python, so much that it could soon outrank 33-year-old C++ on TIOBE's programming language index.

Python's rise on the new TIOBE index results for August lines up with past results from Stack Overflow, a site that helps programmers solve coding questions, which last year found that growth in Python-tagged questions may have made it the fastest-growing language.

IEEE's app for rating the most popular languages has had Python in top spot since 2017 where it remains today, as it does on PyPl. Developer analyst RedMonk places Python in third spot.

But on TIOBE's index, Python has never reached third spot. It has risen from fifth to fourth place since August 2017 with a current rating of 6.992 percent, just behind C++'s 7.471 percent rating.

SEE: Python is eating the world: How one developer's side project became the hottest programming language on the planet (cover story PDF) (TechRepublic) | Learn Python: Online training courses for beginning developers and coding experts (TechRepublic)

TIOBE analysts believe that Python's running on large embedded systems will likely see it take third spot at some point soon, and even overtake Java, its current top-placed language.

They also note that Hack, Groovy, and Julia entered the top 50 while the Microsoft-maintained TypeScript dropped out of the top 50.

The top 10 in descending order are Java, C, C++, Python, Visual Basic .NET, C#, PHP, JavaScript, SQL, and Assembly language.

TIOBE bases its programming language popularity index on a range of search-engine queries, mostly from Google's various international sites, but also Wikipedia, Bing, Baidu, Amazon, and YouTube.

SEE: How to build a successful developer career (free PDF)

In other words, the rankings don't necessarily reflect the quality of a language or how many lines of code have been written in it.

But the company argues its list is a good way for programmers to check whether their skills are up to date and which languages should be used when building a new system.

As ZDNet's David Gewirtz argues based on his multi-index analysis, there are three clusters of languages. The top one includes Java, C, Python, and C++. None of them is specific to a programming platform and developers should familiarize themselves with these.


Python has never reached third spot but has risen from fifth to fourth place since August 2017.

Image: TIOBE

Previous and related coverage

JavaScript rules but Microsoft programming languages are on the rise

Microsoft languages seem to be hitting the right note with coders across ops, data science, and app development.

The best programming language for data science and machine learning

Hint: There is no easy answer, and no consensus either.

Which programming languages pay best, most popular? Developers' top choices

Stack Overflow's annual survey shows Android developer language Kotlin has soared in popularity.

The six best programming languages to learn right now TechRepublic

Which languages are most popular among developers due to their high demand, and how to get started learning them.

Young women dominate in software, but still face setbacks CNET

The gender gap for programmers is shrinking, but women are still disproportionately stuck in junior positions, according to a HackerRank study.

Editorial standards