RedMonk rankings: JavaScript stays firmly on top and Dart gets new momentum

RedMonk Ranking

The first quarterly Programming Language Rankings report for 2021 by the analysts at RedMonk is out, finding an “unusual” degree of movement amongst the Top 20.

RedMonk has for the past decade regularly correlated language discussion on Stack Overflow with usage on GitHub to shed some insight into adoption trends. The result of the latest work has seen JavaScript remain on top, followed by Python, Java, and PHP. C#, C++, and CSS shared the fifth place, while TypeScript came in 8th, Ruby 9th, and C 10th.

Compared to earlier versions of the ranking, half of the languages placed in the Top 20 have seen movement. JavaScript was one of the constants, according to analyst Stephen O’Grady, who said the language “remains – it detractors notwithstanding – a force of nature like no other within the industry, and there are no indications in the data that this is likely to change any time soon.” Pull requests, for example, went up 96% “just from last quarter,” he added. 

Adjacent languages like TypeScript and Dart (21) also rose up the ranks, demonstrating enough grid to face their web competitors. Things didn’t look so certain for Dart about a year ago yet the rising interest in Flutter, Google’s UI toolkit, seems to have helped nudge it closer towards the upper echelons of the ranking. 

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The same cannot be said for Go, another language initiated at Google, whose trajectory looks concerning to RedMonk. Despite its wide-spread use in the containerisation space, the company saw the language peaking in 2018 and has since been “at best static”. This might be down to Go’s “more narrow addressable market” when compared to other languages, the analyst noted. 

Statistical computing language R fell into the same, if not even narrower category, but has enjoyed a more upward facing trajectory. Earlier this year the team behind the Tiobe programming community index said they’d seen a surge in interest in R over the past twelve months. RedMonk arrived at a similar conclusion, placing R at 12 in their analysis. It now is situated between Swift (11) and Objective-C (13), meaning it has overtaken the “more versatile” Objective-C and serves as a divider to the language’s successor.

Another interesting development in RedMonk’s list was confirmation of an increased enthusiasm for Rust, which has jumped from 20 to 19 in the latest ranking. Rust has often been hailed as a security-centered alternative to Go.

The recent launch of a Rust foundation could help to spread the word, especially with Google amongst the initial backers. Google has already hinted at plans to make more use of the language across the company to exploit its memory safety features, so who knows where it will pop up next. 

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