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This old programming language is suddenly getting more popular again

Apple's Objective-C finally exits the top 20 list of popular programming languages tracked by Tiobe, but a 'dinosaur' language has had an unexpected boost.

Objective-C, the programming language superseded by Apple's Swift for iOS and macOS app development, has finally dropped off the top 20 most popular languages, according to the April 2021 edition of the Tiobe Programming Community index

While it's been seven years since Apple released Swift, Objective-C has continued to linger in Tiobe's top 20 list of the world's most popular languages. Objective-C was third on the index in 2014 when Swift arrived. 

Tiobe provides software quality analyses for enterprise customers and bases its rankings on the share of total searches for each language according to several popular search engines. 

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Over the past year, Objective-C has slowly but surely dropped on that list. Tiobe theorized that Objective-C remained popular in part because Swift adoption slowed as mobile app developers turned to languages that could be used for building apps on multiple platforms. 

Swift meanwhile has fallen to 15th position on Tiobe's index today, down from 11th spot in April 2020.  

Another notable change is the re-emergence of Fortran in the index at 20th position, up from 34th spot a year ago. Fortran, which emerged from IBM in the 1950s, remains popular in scientific computing. Its highest ranking on Tiobe's index was 10th in 2002. 

"This dinosaur is back in the top 20 after more than 10 years. Fortran was the first commercial programming language ever, and is gaining popularity thanks to the massive need for (scientific) number crunching. Welcome back Fortran," says Tiobe. 

Groovy, a language that runs on the Java virtual machine (JVM), also made a return to the top 20 this month, rising from 48th position last April to its current 17th position. But it was in 10th position in January 2021, according to Tiobe

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The top 10 programming languages this month were: C, Java, Python, C++, C#, Visual Basic, JavaScript, Assembly language, PHP, and SQL. 

Rounding out the top 20 were: Classic Visual Basic, Delphi/Object Pascal, Ruby, Go, Swift, R, Groovy, Perl, MATLAB, and Fortran. 

Developer analyst RedMonk's Q1 2021 programming language rankings were led by JavaScript, followed by Python, Java, PHP, C#, CSS, TypeScript, Ruby, and C.