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Programming languages fade. It’s an inevitable fact of life: The old and tired is inevitably replaced by the new and better (or at least slightly different). While it’s impossible to predict which languages will indeed endure over the next decade (except Python and JavaScript; we’ll bet both of those are sticking around), it’s worth asking which languages are on a trajectory to oblivion—after all, you don’t want to burn time learning something that won’t have utility for much longer.

Perl Will Fade Away

Yes, Perl has its adherents. Every time an article rolls out that declares Perl on the endangered-languages list, fans point to the number of open Perl jobs currently listed, and how there’s still an active developer community around Perl and its potential evolution into something new and interesting.

Yet RedMonk and the TIOBE Index both show Perl in decline—and while you may take issue with how either site ranks programming languages, if their varying methodologies arrive at the same conclusion, then it’s safe to say that something is actually going on here. Adherents like to point to Perl’s solid performance and its ability to scale (hence its lovely nickname, “The Swiss Army Chainsaw”), but other languages—most notably Python—have begun to eclipse it with regard to adoption, libraries, and features.

We’re betting that, over the next ten years, the number of folks using Perl will decline still further, putting the language at serious risk of fading away entirely.

Why Will Objective-C Die?

Apple’s original programming language has been alive for 36 years, and it seems certain that some legacy apps will still incorporate it 10 years from now. But the chances of you actually working with it by the end of the decade? Pretty much zero, unless you land a job maintaining some obscure iOS app that a company absolutely refuses to update under any circumstances.

Apple is dedicated to ensuring that Swift, which launched in 2014, totally replaces Objective-C. Despite that push, however, Objective-C has managed to maintain much of its popularity and market-share. Why is that? The explanation is pretty straightforward: Swift didn’t emerge fully featured, and its creators have spent the past five years adding crucial features such as ABI stability. That’s encouraged many iOS and macOS developers to stick with Objective-C for the time being.

As Swift becomes more robust, though, the use-case for Objective-C will fade. Over the next ten years, companies will also re-write big chunks of their iOS/macOS codebase in Swift, lessening the need to maintain Objective-C legacy code. If you’re interested in building for Apple’s ecosystem, now’s the time to learn the various features of Swift, including Strings, Arrays, and Package Manager.

Ruby Will Go Bye-Bye

Last year, our analysis of Dice job-posting data showed a significant dip in the number of companies looking for technologists skilled in Ruby. Coding Dojo stopped teaching Ruby on Rails, the popular language framework. And Ruby has been falling on the various programming-language rankings, including IEEE Spectrum. To paraphrase The Simpsons, Ruby is probably in some serious long-term danger:

via GIPHY

Why Is R Dead?

Data science is only becoming more crucial to many companies, leading to a spike in job postings for data scientists, data analysts, and data engineers. Core programming languages to data science include Python, R, and SQL—but there are a lot of signs that Python has begun to swallow up R, which was developed for statisticians and data analysts.

“Behind Python’s growth is a speedily-expanding community of data science professionals and hobbyists—and the tools and frameworks they use every day,” read the latest edition of GitHub’s State of the Octoverse. “These include the many core data science packages powered by Python that are both lowering the barriers to data science work and proving foundational to projects in academia and companies alike.”

For years, various sites have tracked Python gaining ground at R’s expense. In 2018, a KDnuggets poll traced that decline in R usage in favor of Python (especially among tech pros who utilized both languages). Meanwhile, a separate survey from Burtch Works revealed that Python use among analytics professionals grew from 53 percent to 69 percent over that same time two-year period, while the R user-base shrank by nearly a third.

There’s no reason to think this trend won’t continue over the next few years, putting R at serious risk of being completely supplanted by Python.

CoffeeScript is Burned

According to codementor.io, CoffeeScript (a programming language that compiles to JavaScript; yes, we’re counting it) ranked among the worst languages for community engagement and growth in 2019. “CoffeeScript’s Facebook community was nonexistent this year and it ranked near the bottom of the pack for Freenode IRC, Twitter, GitHub, and Stack Overflow tags,” the website wrote in a note accompanying its data. “/r/coffeescript, unfortunately, also had the dubious honor of being the least popular subreddit on our list of languages.”

CoffeeScript has also experienced a decline in Google Trends. Barring some remarkable event that returns it to relevance, it seems unlikely that CoffeeScript will be broadly used within ten years.