Main image of article Is It Worth Learning Newer Programming Languages?

The latest update of the TIOBE Index, a monthly tracker of the world’s most buzzed-about programming languages, reveals… well, not much.

As the list’s creators point out, the top-ranked languages—including Python, C, Java, C++, C#, and Visual Basic—have all maintained their spots for years. “Almost every day a new programming language is born, but hardly any of them enter the top 100,” read the note accompanying the latest update. “At least not in their first 10 years.”

Even the newer languages making some inroads on the list, including Swift and Rust, are over five years old. “It is almost impossible to hit the charts as a newbie,” the note continued. “On the contrary, we see that golden oldies revive. Take for instance Fortran, which is back in the top 20 thanks to the growing demand for numerical computational power.”

If you’re new to the TIOBE Index, here’s how its methodology works: it leverages data from a variety of aggregators and search engines, including Google, Wikipedia, YouTube, and Amazon. For a language to rank on the Index, it must be Turing complete, have its own Wikipedia entry, and earn more than 5,000 hits for +”<language> programming” on Google. As many have pointed out in the past, that’s not a scientific way of measuring a language’s true international usage (if such a thing is even possible), but it’s a good way of determining which languages are being talked about.

For tech professionals who are curious about which programming languages to learn, the TIOBE Index is instructive: while it’s fun to kick the tires on newer programming languages, organizations across the economy continue to rely on really old and well-established languages like Python and JavaScript to actually build everything from mobile apps to complicated, cloud-based services. If you want to break into software engineering, learning some of those popular languages is an absolute must.