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Python, Fully Embraced by Visual Studio, Is on the Rise

For the first time, Python has cracked the top three in the TIOBE index of programming language popularity, helping to demonstrate why Microsoft has fully embraced the language in its Visual Studio IDE and Visual Studio Code editor.

The brand-new TIOBE Index for September 2018 noting the rise of Python comes out at the same as a post from careers site Dice, "Exploring Microsoft's Adoption of Python in Visual Studio."

"You don't usually think of Microsoft and Python in the same sentence," today's Dice post said. "But now, in Visual Studio 2017, you can develop applications in Python, making Visual Studio probably the best Python IDE around (at least on Windows)."

Released in 1991, the open source Python covers many bases, being known for its fast onramp and ease of use even though it's a favorite for many demanding data scientists for cutting-edge analytics and artificial intelligence projects, including our own data maestro, Dr. James McCaffrey.

Perhaps capitalizing on the growth of such projects, Python has climbed steadily in language popularity rankings, as noted in these reports from our sister site, ADTmag:

  • Earlier this year, the PYPL PopularitY of Programming Language chart reported Python was on the verge of overtaking perennial No. 1 Java.
  • Just last month, IEEE Spectrum published its fifth annual interactive ranking of the top programming languages, which saw 2017 champ Python again in first place.
  • Also last month, we reported that the RedMonk report (for June) listed Python at No. 3, the same position it held the year before, behind only JavaScript and Java.
  • Earlier this year, a developer skills report from recruiting company HackerRank said: "JavaScript may be the most in-demand language by employers, but Python wins the heart of developers across all ages, according to our Love-Hate index. Python is also the most popular language that developers want to learn overall, and a significant share already knows it." The Love-Hate index measures the percentage of developers who love a language while subtracting the percentage of developers who dislike the language.
  • In June, we reported that the Hacker News' April 2018 Hiring Trends analysis indicated Python was the No. 2 most-in-demand skill, behind only React.

Previously, the TIOBE Programming Community index foreshadowed Python joining its top three, saying in the August report: "This time Python was a clear winner with more than 70 percent 'market share.' This Python boost is also visible in the TIOBE index. But industry is adopting Python as well. The Python programming language started as a successor of Perl to write build scripts and all kind of glue software. But gradually it entered also other domains. Nowadays it is quite common to have Python running in large embedded systems. So it is very likely that Python will enter the top 3 and even might become the new number 1 in the long run."

TIOBE Index Top 10 for September 2018
[Click on image for larger view.] TIOBE Index Top 10 for September 2018 (source: TIOBE index)

And, indeed, it did enter the top three in the new September report on the strength of 4.67 percent growth from September 2017 (though Java and C retained their top two slots on even higher percentage growth rates). C++, with 1.83 percent growth, relinquished its top-three position, falling to No. 4.

"Python has entered the TIOBE index top 3 for the first time in its history. This really took a long time," the report said. "At the beginning of the 1990s it entered the chart. Then it took another 10 years before it reached the TIOBE index top 10 for the first time. After that it slowly but surely approached the top 5 and eventually the top 3. Python is becoming increasingly ubiquitous. It is already the first choice at universities (for all kinds of subjects for which programming is demanded) and is now also conquering the industrial world. Python's selling points are easy to learn, easy to install and easy to deploy."

Meanwhile, in today's Dice post, David Bolton details how to use Python in Visual Studio, touching upon debugging, different environments, IntelliSense and more.

"I was very impressed with what Microsoft has done; the ability to directly import packages from Pypi into any environment is neat," Bolton said. "I recommend a read of Microsoft's Work with Python in Visual Studio article if you want additional details; it offers a matrix of what Python features can be used with earlier versions of Visual Studio, going back as far as Visual Studio 2010. You need to install it in those earlier versions; there's another Microsoft article on doing just that.

"I think Microsoft has done an excellent job in integrating Python into Visual Studio; the documentation is great. It's clearly by far the best IDE on Windows for Python, and free."

And of course, VS Code is one of the most popular code editors for Python, with its dev team going all in its embrace of the language. That goes hand-in-hand with the work the Visual Studio IDE team has done, as Bolton noted, with its work the Python language server.

The VS team recently took its Python IntelliSense technology and morphed it into a standalone product, previewing it in its VS Code extension (boasting more than 16 million installations).

"The end result is that we have a black box that takes Python code and provides all the information your editor needs for tooltips, completions, finding definitions and references, global variable renaming and more," Microsoft's Steve Dower said.

The ties between Microsoft tooling and Python have grown so close that we earlier this year reported that VS Code has been bundled into the official Anaconda Python distribution.

"This is another example of Microsoft's continued investment in the Python community, following our release of an official Python extension for VS Code, strong support for Python in Azure Machine Learning Studio and SQL Server, and Azure Notebooks, which has been increasingly adopted as a learning platform by leading universities such as the University of Cambridge," said John Lam of Microsoft's Python Engineering group at the time. "Microsoft is committed to helping Python developers build anywhere and on any platform."

About the Author

David Ramel is the editor of Visual Studio Magazine.

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