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Microsoft's C# Programming Language Chosen Most Popular

The contest was based on the growth in the number of searches from the previous year.

Microsoft's chief .NET Framework language won a beauty contest. What that means, if anything, is another matter.

In terms of growth, C# surpassed all other programming languages in a popularity contest called the PopularitY of Programming Language (PYPL) index, based on Google Trends data from 2012.

The PYPL, created by Pierre Carbonnelle, measures popularity by the number of Google searches for tutorials in the respective languages.

While Carbonnelle crowned C# as the 2012 king, this coronation was based on the growth in the number of searches from the previous year. In terms of the overall number of searches, Java comes in at No. 1, with about 31 percent of the overall share of searches, followed by PHP (15 percent), and C++ and C# (basically tied at about 10 percent).

In these overall terms, the top 10 languages were reported as:

  1. Java
  2. PHP
  3. C++
  4. C#
  5. C
  6. Python
  7. JavaScript
  8. Visual Basic
  9. Ruby
  10. Perl

However, C# earned its election as programming language of the year due to its 1.8 percent growth during 2012, edging out C++ (1.1 percent) and Python (0.8 percent). This growth propelled it from No. 6 in 2011 to No. 4 last year. PHP reported the biggest decline in search percentage, at -1.8 percent.

Carbonelle, who blogs about Python, noted that his favorite language had the biggest increase in search share for the past five years. He also took some pot-shots at the more well-known TIOBE Programming Community Index, which for the second year running awarded the "programming language award" to Objective-C.

The TIOBE index, updated monthly, is based on market share rankings using data such as the number of skilled engineers using the language worldwide, number of courses offering it and number of third-party vendors offering it, collected from search data from Google, Bing, Yahoo, Wikipedia, Amazon, YouTube and Baidu.

Carbonelle said the TIOBE index is a "lagging indicator" while the PYPL is a "leading indicator."

TIOBE "counts the number of Web pages with the language name," Carbonelle said. "Objective-C programming has over 28 million pages on the Web, while C programming has only 11 million. This explains why Objective-C has a high TIOBE ranking. But who is reading those Objective-C Web pages? Hardly anyone, according to Google Trends data."

Objective-C won the TIOBE award because it had the highest reported growth, at 3.37 percent, which moved it up from No. 5 in overall 2011 rankings to No. 3 for 2012. C++ came in at No. 2 with 1.09 percent growth from 2011 to 2012, followed by Python at 0.96 percent.

The TIOBE Programming Community Index for January 2013 lists overall language popularity thusly:

  1. C
  2. Java
  3. Objective-C
  4. C++
  5. C#
  6. PHP
  7. (Visual) Basic
  8. Python
  9. Perl
  10. JavaScript

At his PYPL site, Carbonelle provides tools for readers to conduct their own research, such as analyzing language popularity for different countries.

About the Author

David Ramel is an editor and writer for 1105 Media.

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Reader Comments:

Sat, Jan 19, 2013 M. Whitener US

I moved from Java to C# over ten years ago, but I want to note that Java became so widely used because it was pushed out to every platform, something MS unfortunately didn't intend to do.

Thu, Jan 17, 2013 Vibov

What I dislike about Java is not its restrictiveness (indeed, I'm not sure whether it really is the major difference between Java and C#) but how 'square' it is. In terms of syntax it's lacking so much convenient functionality, most notably LINQ. I'm somewhat pampered by C# and Java feels way less expressive in comparison. On the plus side, Android (I only use Java for mobile development) is very well documented.

Thu, Jan 17, 2013 skip

^^^^^So, you are saying Java is more restrictive than C#?

Thu, Jan 17, 2013

Java was always an anal, overly-restrictive, annoying language to use, but Sun Microsystems hyped it with the most powerful and effective PR campaign the tech world has ever seen. As a result, Java is the most widely used programming language, while languages that are more productive and fun to use, like Python and C#, are playing catch-up.

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