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Looking beyond TIOBE

Posted by fabriziogiudici on November 9, 2011 at 4:37 AM PST

The last page on the latest issue of IEEE Spectrum attracted my attention since it was about the popularity of programming languages. The page was made of four pictures taken from, which makes popularity figures out of multiple sources:

  • Yahoo Search
  • Craigslist
  • Powell's Books
  • Freshmeat
  • Google Code
  • Ohloh
  • Slashdot
  • IRC

This is different than TIOBE, that looks at some of the same sources, but then provides a weighted average ( offers a form to compute a weighted average with equal coefficients - useless - and with your favourite coefficients - useful only to tweak the statistics to accomplish your desires).

Java performs very well in all cases (being mostly in the first or top three places); Craigslist gives a lower figure, and one might thing it's relevant since it's about job offerings. But AFAIK Craigslist is popular in the US, not in Europe (perhaps a query on LinkedIn or Monster would be more interesting). In most cases, Java, C and C++ are at the top three positions, while some sites gives the first position to JavaScript or Python.

The funny thing is that probably the best result is with Slashdot, which is a site mostly hostile to Java. This recalls me a popular motto in my country: "good or bad, it's mostly about being talked on". Who knows.

It's difficult to compare all that stuff. Too bad doesn't provide trends for each source (there's a timeline view, but it's only aggregated and the web owners say that they don't have a big deal of historic data; in any case, if you try it, Java is substantially stable since 2008). They would be much more interesting when compared over time.


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 "good or bad, it's mostly about being talked ...

 "good or bad, it's mostly about being talked on" has two equivalents I hear: "The only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about." and "There's no such thing as bad publicity except your own obituary." 

Then again people have been writing Java's obituary since 1994.

 "good or bad, it's mostly about being talked ...