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- Since 2014, GitHub’s annual State of the Octoverse report has tracked various developer trends.
- That includes the top 10 programming languages each year, which, in 2020, included Java, Python, and C.
- Read more on the Insider homepage.
2020 was an extraordinary year that changed the way many developers work, according to GitHub’s annual State of the Octoverse report.
Since GitHub was founded in 2008 and acquired by Microsoft in 2018, it has become the largest host of source code in the world, connecting more than 56 million developers across the globe. Its scale allows it to track various trends, including an annual ranking of the top programming languages, which it calculates based on the number of contributions to repositories in a given language, as well as new repositories created.
Despite 2020’s many job-related changes, developers maintained a few preferences over the course of the year, with the top three languages maintaining their rankings. There were a few shifts, however, with C bumping up, PHP falling down, and TypeScript receiving the biggest surge in popularity as it jumped from seventh to fourth place in the ranking.
Meanwhile, GitHub’s report also found that non-work open source activity jumped on the weekends at higher levels than in 2019, which could indicate that users were increasingly focusing on passion products in their free time.
According to GitHub, here are the top programming languages, as well as how they’re used.
(Disclosure: The author’s mother is currently employed at Microsoft, working on the company’s open source initiatives.)
Yukihiro “Matz” Matsumoto created Ruby in Japan in the 1990s. This open-source language is similar to Python in the sense that it’s structured like the English language. Ruby has seen a sharp decline in popularity over the past half-decade, falling from fifth to tenth place in the State of the Octoverse report since 2014.
A shell script is a computer program designed to control an operating system via commands, rather than using the graphical user interface (like the icons on a desktop).
Someone might encounter Shell when they run into a computer problem and an IT systems administrator remotes in to use it to fix the issue.
Ken Thompson and Dennis Ritchie developed C in the 1970s and, due to the way it’s compiled, it’s well-suited to developing operating systems. For example, Linux and Unix were both built using C.
C++ (pronounced”C-plus-plus”) is a descendent of C, and was originally named “C with classes,” as it added object-oriented features that C lacked.
C++ was one of the most popular programming languages in the 1990s, but has since decreased in use, though it’s still a core language in many operating systems, browsers, and games.
Rasmus Lerdorf created PHP in 1995 and it stands for PHP: Hypertext Preprocessor — because “HP” was already taken. This scripting-language is most commonly used for web development and has seen a recent decline in use since 2018, in part because many programmers don’t like using it. PHP’s design was influenced by languages such as C, Perl, Java, C++, and Python.
Microsoft created C# — pronounced like the music note “C-sharp” — in 2001. C# is most commonly used in creating desktop applications and video games for Windows. The video game engine Unity also uses C#.
These additional features have helped TypeScript’s popularity surge: It shot from tenth to fourth place in GitHub’s rankings in the past two years.
Originally called Oak during its creation, Java is an object-oriented language created by Sun Microsystems, which is now owned by Oracle.
Java is commonly used for back-end development projects, desktop and mobile apps, databases, and more. The versatile language also closely resembles C, C++, and C#.
Python is one of the most popular open-source languages, with a notably strong community backing.
It’s easy to use, with much of the coding resembling plain-English, and is often noted as the best language to learn for beginners. Python developers also focus on making it a fun language to engage with — fitting, considering that its name originated from the 1970s BBC comedy series “Monty Python’s Flying Circus.”