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Visual Basic .NET Sees Popularity Hike

OK, raise your hands: Do you do your data programming in Visual Basic .NET? If I was a speaker at a development conference and asked that question, I'd expect to be squinting to see the results.

Yet this month's TIOBE Programming Community Index, which measures the popularity of programming languages, reports that Visual Basic .NET has cracked the top 10 for the first time ever, right between JavaScript and Transact-SQL (the latter of which, by the way, was recently named by TIOBE as "programming language of the year").

Though not specific to data-related programming, the TIOBE index measures popularity by counting the number of developers using a language, courses offered, search engine results and more.

Visual Basic .NET saw an increase of 0.79 percent, the fourth-highest percentage gain among the top 20 languages listed. That moved it from No. 12 last February to No. 10 this month.

Here's TIOBE's take on the news:

This is quite surprising for two reasons. Visual Basic .NET is the successor of Microsoft's well-beloved classic Visual Basic 6.0 version. Since Visual Basic .NET needed to run on Microsoft's .NET platform, the language has changed drastically. Many software engineers refused to migrate to Visual Basic .NET. For this reason, Visual Basic .NET has been criticized through the years. The other reason why this is surprising is that Microsoft seemed to slow down further development of Visual Basic .NET. For example, the latest Visual Studio version 2013 doesn't contain any new Visual Basic .NET language features.

The index shows "(Visual) Basic" at No. 7, even though it suffered a percentage drop. The "classic" Visual Basic has fallen considerably since its peak in April 2004 and is lately trending steeply downward. In fact, Visual Basic .NET, which debuted on the index in September 2010, has been climbing and it looks like the two could intersect in the next few months.

It's hard to make similar comparisons to TIOBE's rankings with other such programming language popularity tools because many don't distinguish between classic Visual Basic and Visual Basic .NET or don't show historical trends. Anyway, for what it's worth, examinations of other sites, of varying formats and publication dates, shows the following. The PYPL PopularitY of Programming Language Index shows Visual Basic at No. 10 in its chart. LangPop.com shows Visual Basic at No. 16. On the Transparent Language Popularity Index, Basic (no "Visual") was No. 5 last July. The RedMonk Programming Language Rankings: January 2013 site shows Visual Basic at No. 19. You can also fool around with tools at TrendySkills and Google Trends.

What do you make of this rise in popularity? What do you think of Visual Basic .NET? Comment here or drop me a line.

Posted by David Ramel on 02/21/2014


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