The beginning of a new month means it’s time for the TIOBE Index to unveil its updated list of the most popular programming languages. If you follow that list on a regular basis, you know there’s not a lot of movement in the upper echelons of the rankings—Java, C, Python, and C++ all occupy the top slots, and haven’t moved in at least a year. It’s further down that things get interesting.
For this month’s edition, TIOBE also seems pretty focused on Delphi and its seeming collapse. For those who’ve never worked with it, Delphi is based on Object Pascal, itself an extension of the Pascal programming language, and is mature and fully featured. It’s used for building everything from mobile to web and desktop applications, and right now (at least according to TIOBE) it’s in a bit of trouble. (If you're a history buff, you can probably guess the extremely nerdy, Delphi-related joke in that top image there.)
“Delphi has been in the top 20 since the beginning of the TIOBE index (started in June 2001). In the early 2000s it was one of the most popular languages and IDEs,” reads the note accompanying the data. “After that Delphi got in to troubles: the port to Linux was not successful, there were some buggy releases and non-commercial IDEs with similar features started to conquer the market.”
The frequency of new Delphi releases has likewise fallen off: “Delphi had at least one major release per year since 2001. However, the latest Delphi release is from 2018.” In any case, Delphi has plunged into 20th place, down from 19th a year ago.
In order to create its rankings, TIOBE leverages data from a variety of aggregators and search engines, including Google, Wikipedia, YouTube, and Amazon. For a language to rank, it must be Turing complete, have its own Wikipedia entry, and earn more than 5,000 hits for +”<language> programming” on Google. That methodology has obviously sparked complaints that these rankings aren’t a “true” measure of languages’ respective popularity.
Some other things to note: Swift continues to climb upward in the rankings, balanced out by Objective-C’s plunge—no surprise, given how Apple is pushing the former and the expense of the latter. Over the past year, Swift has become even more fully featured; those interested in learning its ways should familiarize themselves with sets, loops, functions, and more.
Also, Go is on the rise, jumping from 18th place to 10th over the past year. Perhaps that’s unsurprising, as HackerRank’s 2020 Developer Skills Report, which collects and analyzes survey responses from 116,000 developers worldwide, suggested that Go is the top language that developers want to learn next, followed by Python, Kotlin, and Typescript.