Main image of article 5 Programming Languages That Should Die
[caption id="attachment_142485" align="aligncenter" width="5669"] Programming Language Popularity Programming Languages Popularity[/caption] Everyone has a favorite programming language (and probably one they just can’t stand). Then there are those programming languages that we just wish would die. Some are ancient and ripe for abandonment; others have been eclipsed by languages that do many of the same things better. In any case, here are five that deserve a final consignment to the dustbin of dead tech.


Top learning platform Coding Dojo believes in Ruby so little that it’s altering its curriculum so it no longer has to teach Ruby on Rails, a seemingly popular language framework. All the rage in the aughts, Ruby has now slipped to the edge of TIOBE’s top ten, and has similar placement on IEEE’s list. Rails’ popularity is seemingly on the wane in the wake of JavaScript’s broadened libraries. Because of that, fewer people are using Ruby, which makes it one to watch out for (and not in a good way).


Swift is here to stay. After being introduced in 2014, Apple’s now open-source programming language has taken the iOS developer community by storm. The only thing keeping Objective-C relevant is Swift’s lack of ABI stability, which will be solved with Swift 5. Though it’s not doomed yet, Objective-C has already ceded ground to Swift on the popularity scale. With Swift ABI stability on the horizon, expect Objective-C to really start tanking.

Visual Basic

This is a tricky one. Technically a ‘technology’ rather than a language, Visual Basic has long been on our list of undesirables, but it’s holding strong on TIOBE’s list (a good indicator that the language is used widely). Stack Overflow’s recent developer survey is a big reason we’re hoping this language just plain dies. Some 79.5 percent of respondents said they dreaded the language; in fact, it beat out other disciplines such as WordPress, SalesForce and SQL for that dubious distinction. Visual Basic was built to supplant BASIC, which maybe shows how long in the tooth it is. Still, Microsoft is invested, so we’re probably not going to get our wish. At Build 2017, there were plenty of Visual Basic sessions, which can still be found on the company’s Channel 9 website.


I know, I know: SQL is basically everywhere. The database systems language is pretty boilerplate at this point, though. It’s spawned some offshoots, and even some that try hard (and do a great job) of distancing themselves from SQL altogether. Services like Realm offer excellent alternatives to SQL. Realm is easily structured into existing codebases, and makes offline functionality a snap. SQL is also one of the least desirable languages to work in, and we just want everyone to be happy.


If you’re asking yourself, “What’s Assembly?” you can guess why it’s on the list. Still in TIOBE’s top-20, Assembly has tanked from inside the top ten to number fourteen on the list. It doesn’t rank on Stack Overflow’s list, and IEEE situates it similarly to TIOBE at #12. When we examined Assembly earlier this year, we wrote: “Still in use today, Assembly remains slow and tedious. In the time it would take you to write ten lines of Assembly, you could write ten lines of Python or C# that would accomplish far, far more from a software perspective.” That’s a good indicator that the language is hanging around on these lists because of legacy code.

Time To Go!

We think it’s time for these languages (and ‘technology,’ in the case of Visual Basic) to go. They’ve all reached a point where iteration has stalled or ended. These five are simply legacy tools and languages that are hanging on. There's good reason to doubt these will go away, though. Legacy code means a developer or team has to work with the language, and refactoring or re-writing a large codebase is tedious (at best). I wouldn’t envy a team charged with finding a better solution for a massive SQL database. Some languages and tools make that conversion easier than others. Apps and services such as Lyft adopted Swift early on, re-writing their apps from the ground up and eschewing Objective-C entirely. So it can be done. Some of these languages may also see a resurgence. Ruby itself is a fine language, but Rails seems to be causing its dip in favor and popularity. Others may linger like a barnacle (looking at you, Visual Basic). Whatever happens, these are five disciplines we’d just as soon never see again.