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The Python Programming Language Is More Popular Than Ever

The Python Programming Language Is More Popular Than Ever

Python is one of the world’s most popular programming languages. In fact, it’s more so than ever. Python climbed from third place to tie for second in

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Python is one of the world’s most popular programming languages. In fact, it’s more so than ever. Python climbed from third place to tie for second in the latest ranking of programming language popularity published by the analyst firm RedMonk. It’s the first time that a language other than JavaScript, which remains number one in the firms ratings, or Java, the other runner-up, has entered the top two since RedMonk started compiling its rankings in 2012.

That milestone is all the more significant given a sometimes rocky transition from the second version of Python, which the language’s developers stopped supporting this year, to the third version.

RedMonk usually doesn’t make much of small rankings changes, cofounder Stephen O’Grady writes in the report, but it’s rare to see any sort of movement in the top tier of programming languages, which consists of well-established languages. JavaScript is the primary way developers run code inside web browsers and is also increasingly used for other purposes, ranging from mobile and desktop app development to programming drones. Java, meanwhile, is the standard language for writing Android apps and is a corporate software development mainstay.

Python’s continued success wasn’t a given. The long transition from Python 2 to Python 3 in particular could have shunted developers elsewhere. Python 3 was first released in 2008, and the team initially planned to stop supporting Python 2 in 2015, meaning there would be no further bug fixes and security updates from the official project. But they extended that deadline to 2020 when it became clear that many developers would need more time to update their code to the newer version.

During that time, developers could have opted to switch to a newer programming language, like Mozilla’s Rust, Google’s Go, or JetBrains’s Kotlin. Meanwhile, newer programmers could have opted to learn the more widely used JavaScript, or been turned off by confusion over what tutorials, code samples, and open source code libraries would work with each version of Python. But if Python lost any developers due to the transition, it appears to have more than made up for them in new converts.

O’Grady cites Python’s versatility as one reason for its ongoing popularity. Companies like Google, Dropbox, and Instagram all rely heavily on Python, as do countless smaller ventures. It also has a home in academia as the preferred data-crunching language of many scientists and mathematicians.

RedMonk ranks programming languages based on two criteria: the number of questions asked about each language on the question-and-answer site StackOverflow, and the number of projects based on each language hosted on the Microsoft-owned service GitHub. The idea is to spot trends in the software development profession.

RedMonk’s assessment, at least as it relates to Python, is consistent with other measures. According to a survey by StackOverflow, Python is the third most widely used programming language, not counting HTML, behind only JavaScript and the database query language SQL. The survey found Python was the respondents’ second-favorite language, after Rust. Meanwhile, the Tiobe index, which measures the number of search engine results for particular languages, shows Python has grown in popularity in recent years and now ranks third in the index, after Java and C.

There was little movement in the top 20 languages in RedMonk’s latest report. But O’Grady did flag one rising star further down in the ranks: Dart, a language developed by Google, jumped nine places, from 33rd to 24th in the past 18 months.

Dart is a language for writing software that runs inside web browsers. Dart code is translated into JavaScript, which is supported by practically all modern browsers. O’Grady writes that its surge in popularity is probably due to its use in Google’s open source programming framework Flutter, which was released in December, 2018.


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