Questions about programming languages just won't go away. Arguments about which is the most popular, the most useful, the fastest growing, or the most insanely designed are as common in certain corners of the tech world as arguments about the importance of moon-phases are to baseball statistics fans.
For programmers, though, the arguments boil down to a simple question: Which language will help me make the most money for the longest period of time? In the language of economics, in which language will an investment of time and learning bring the greatest return?
I am not an investment counselor, but I do spend more than my share of time looking at different websites that rank the popularity and use (both relative and absolute) of programming languages. I can now watch the lists with a certain detachment. I no longer make my living as a programmer, and the languages that I once used have long since fallen off all but the most esoteric of these lists. But I am very interested in what the lists have to say, because I think that the languages that matter say a lot about where technology and IT practitioners are going.
The list that I've put together here was created by looking at more than half a dozen separate lists around the Web. They included the TIOBE Index, which calculates ratings based on 25 search engines; General Assembly, an IT education firm; PYPL, which analyzes how often language tutorials are searched on Google; CodeEval, which looks at hundreds of thousands of data points collected by processing more than 1.2 million challenge submissions; and Tech.co, which is the most popular programming languages in GitHub; among others.
Some of the lists looked at job ads, others at searches for training, and still others at how often programs in particular languages were submitted for quality control runs. That means that some of the lists were all about today, some about tomorrow, and some about what will be happening a year or more in the future. The fascinating thing is the number of languages that were common to all of the lists.
So that's where I drew my list. If a language appeared on all the various lists, then it made my list. There are a few on my list that didn't appear on every single source list, and there are a couple of things you need to know based on that information.
First, my list doesn't have any ranking. The first seven languages are all treated equally -- they each appeared on pretty much every list I saw. The final three are different. They're more forward-looking, so they tended to come from lists that looked at languages growing quickly in use or languages that people want to learn.
Oh, and one more thing: I'm not getting into the whole scripting language versus "real" language article here. These are all languages that make systems do things. That's enough. We'll have the scripting language argument later.
Here they are, then. Languages that will make you rich, popular, and incredibly attractive. Or at least, that might help keep you employed -- which is, if you think about it, almost the same thing. Let me know what you think; the comments are, as always, open.
Curtis Franklin Jr. is Senior Editor at Dark Reading. In this role he focuses on product and technology coverage for the publication. In addition he works on audio and video programming for Dark Reading and contributes to activities at Interop ITX, Black Hat, INsecurity, and ... View Full Bio
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