Top programming languages list: An unexpected change at the top

One of the biggest programming languages has dropped out of the top three, according to one of the lists used to track coders' favourites.
Written by Liam Tung, Contributing Writer
Image: Shutterstock / iJeab

C++ has overtaken Java to be the third most popular language in the Tiobe programming language index. 

It's the first time C++ has over taken Java in the Tiobe index and it's the first time since 2001 that Java hasn't been in the top three, according to Paul Jansen, CEO of Tiobe Software, a Dutch software quality testing firm. 

"The rising popularity of C++ goes at the expense of Java. C++ surpassed Java for the first time in the history of the TIOBE index, which means that Java is at position 4 now," Jansen notes. "This is the first time that Java is not part of the top 3 since the beginning of the TIOBE index in 2001."

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He also notes Kotlin and Julia are getting closer to joining the top 20 list. Java-compatible Kotlin is backed by Google for Android app development while Julia, debuted by MIT researchers in 2012, is popular among some for data science. 

Analyst RedMonk picked Julia as a language to watch in 2018 as a possible Python rival. It's not in RedMonk's latest June 2022 top 20 list, but also isn't far from it. 

In a year-on-year comparison in Tiobe's index, the languages now in the top 20 that made significant gains over the period are: Rust (up from 27 to 20), Objective-C (up from 29 to 19), science-specialized MATLAB (20 to 14), and Google's Go language (up from 19 to 12). 

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Apple promotes Swift over Objective-C for app development on its platforms but, in Tiobe's index, Swift's ranking dropped from 10th last December to 15th today. Swift and Objective-C are neck and neck respectively, according to RedMonk, at 11th and 12th spot. Stack Overflow places Swift in 19th position in its list of most commonly used programming languages, ahead of Objective-C in 27th.   

Lists of 'top' programming languages don't tell you everything about individual coding platforms, and can vary in their focus and how they are put together. Tiobe, for example, uses certain programming-related queries on popular search engines to calculate its ratings, but also bases ratings on the number of skilled engineers in the world, courses and third-party vendors.   

Source: Tiobe
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