Top Programming Languages That Will Future-Proof Your Portfolio - InformationWeek

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3/13/2016
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Top Programming Languages That Will Future-Proof Your Portfolio

The most popular programming languages are used to code most of the applications in the world. Here are the 10 most popular now -- and insight into a handful on a rocket up the charts.
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(Image: geralt via Pixabay)

(Image: geralt via Pixabay)

Every year there are lists about programming languages. The 10 most popular, the 10 least popular, the 10 most searched for, most loved, most hated …you get it. In the world of programming languages there are constant lists, but the ones that matter are those that help you plan your future or plan your development teams.

One of the companies that keeps a regular list of the most commonly used languages is TIOBE, a Netherlands-based company that evaluates code for quality. It's a list that shows the relative popularity of languages it is testing right now. We used its work as the basis for choosing the languages presented here because it is a good snapshot of the development market as it exists right now.

Another way of looking at the market for programming languages is through the lens of companies hiring programmers. This is more a view to the future, since even agile-based organizations will tend to have a lag measured in weeks to months between hiring a developer and seeing the first deployable code from the developer's keyboard.

Toptal is a company that acts as a broker between developers and the companies that want to hire them. It has a list of the most popular languages used in hiring searches -- a list that doesn't directly track to the TIOBE list.

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Alvaro Oliveira is VP of talent operations for Toptal. When I spoke with him on the phone about Toptal's list, we opened with the No. 1 language companies are searching for: Swift. "Swift is new, so it's expected for its growth to be way higher than any other languages," Oliveira said. "It's also the language that has allowed a lot of people to join the iOS market."

Oliveira said that Swift's growth is coming from two sources: Those moving their programming from Objective C, and those coming into the iOS development market for the first time. "The iOS programming market was always held back by Objective C, which is a language that a lot of people found uninviting," he said. "But then Swift came along and was much easier."

The other language at the top of Toptal's chart is HTML. "For any web project, HTML is going to be there. Whether it's a Ruby on Rails or Rython job, HTML will be there. It shows that Web pages are still in demand," Oliveira said.

There was at least one language on the Toptal list that I found quite surprising, but I'll wait until later in the article to talk about it. Until then, let's take a look at the languages most commonly used in March 2016, and see how many of them you have in your project portfolio.

Once you've reviewed our list, tell us in the comments section below which of these are in use in your organization right now, and which ones you're personally working with.

Curtis Franklin Jr. is Senior Analyst at Omdia, focusing on enterprise security management. Curtis has been writing about technologies and products in computing and networking since the early 1980s. He has been on staff and contributed to technology-industry publications ... View Full Bio

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Curt Franklin
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Curt Franklin,
User Rank: Strategist
3/14/2016 | 2:26:07 PM
Re: Script & Interpreters
TerryB, the problem with so many scripting languages is that they were never really intended for applications where security (or, in many cases, the outside world) were considerations.

It would be nice to have a simple, powerful, scipting language that just happens to be intrinsicially secure. I'm just not sure what it would be. And the real problem is that IT executives are always going to want fast, low-cost solutions for development, and nothing really beats a scripting language for fast and cheap.
Curt Franklin
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Curt Franklin,
User Rank: Strategist
3/14/2016 | 12:50:10 PM
Re: Expectation setback: No Go, No Node.js
Charlie, I was surprised by the lack of Go. There are several possible explanations (aside from the obvious), including that companies using Go aren't using external testing. The lack of interest in hiring language could mean that companies are using existing in-house talent for their dev teams, but either way I agree: You'd think that companies would be both using the languages now and hiring for the future.

The question is whether there's a lot of latent demand or whether there's less uptake than we think.
Charlie Babcock
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Charlie Babcock,
User Rank: Author
3/14/2016 | 12:13:11 PM
Expectation setback: No Go, No Node.js
In terms of future-proofing the enterprise, I expected to see Google's Go listed, since it's the language of container orchestration and management, as found in Kubernetes. I also expected to see Node.js in higher demand than JavaScript, but it could be client-side programming still dominates server-side.
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