JavaProgramming Language Popularity: The TCP Index for September, 2004

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This article is based on information provided by  Tiobe Software (

Here on, we have decided to post the TIOBE Programming Community (TPC) Index. This is just one possible means of indicating the popularity of a langauge.

In the month of September, some changes have occurred on the index that may raise a few questions. Most notably C had bumped Java out of the top spot. Less of a surprise, yet still interesting is the rise once again for Delphi/Pascal/Kylix for three more positions. It has now moved up to the number 7 postiion. Python also rose three spots, but that is less of a surprise. In looking at the delta for the past year, it is no surprise that Visual Basic and Python are the two langauges that continue to show the largest increases. Java shows one of the biggest decreases. Check back in October to see if Java’s drop is a fluke or if change is in the air!

TIOBE Programming Community Index for September 2004

The index can be used to check whether your programming skills are still up to date or to make a strategic decision about what programming language should be adopted when starting to build a new software system.

Position Delta 1 Year Programming Language Ratings Delta 1 Year Status
1 C 17.122% -0.65% A
2 Java 15.896% -6.35% A
3 C++ 14.916% -2.62% A
4 (Visual) Basic 11.650% +4.47% A
5 Perl 8.968% +0.87% A
6 PHP 8.231% +2.80% A
7 Delphi/Pascal/Kylix 5.865% +4.28% A
8 Python 5.597% +4.17% A
9 SQL 2.693% -0.55% A
10 C# 1.634% -0.43% A
11 JavaScript 1.510% -0.39% A
12 SAS 0.653% -0.33% A-
13 COBOL 0.498% -0.53% B
14 IDL 0.338% -0.10% B
15 Lisp 0.319% -0.33% B
16 Fortran 0.281% -0.55% B
17 Ada 0.267% -0.27% B
18 Prolog 0.259% -0.24% B
19 MATLAB 0.258% -0.07% B
20 ABAP 0.254% -0.10% B


The last 3 columns need a bit of extra explanation:

  • Ratings. The search query '+"<language> programming" -tv' is used to calculate the TPC Index. This query is executed both for the regular Google and Yahoo! web search and the Google newsgroups for the last 12 months. The formula that is applied is #(Google web hits) + #(Yahoo! web hits) + 50 * #(Google newsgroup hits). If the number of hits for one of the 3 applied queries deviates more than a factor 2 from the results of the previous month, its new value is discarded because the query result is considered to be a temporary anomaly.
  • Delta 1 Year. This column indicates the changes in ratings for the last 12 months. Observe that the first “Delta 1 Year” column indicates the difference in position.
  • Status. Programming languages that have status “A” are considered to be mainstream languages. Status “A-” and “A–” indicate that a programming language is inbetween status “A” and “B”. If a programming language has a rating that is higher than 0.7% for at least 3 months it is rewarded status “A”. The first two months the programming language will receive status “A–” and “A-” respectively. The opposite holds for languages that go from status “A” to status “B”.
About The Numbers and Ranks

The TPC index is based on the world-wide availability of skilled engineers, courses, and third party vendors. This availability is determined by using the Google and Yahoo! search engines to calculate the ratings.

There are a number of methods for determining which programming languages are themost popular. If you ask ten developers for the most popular language, the odds are that the languages they use will influence their answer. If you look at the number of lines of code, you may find that some of the older languages seem to be more popular. You can check the number of classes or the number of job openings. If you go to the search engines, you can search on different langauges to see which returns the most results.

This is all related to popularity. This doesn’t indicate which is best or even which is the most used or has the most lines of code.

Long Term Trends

The long term trends for the first 10 programming languages are depicted in the line diagram below.

Other Programming Languages

We have included the top 20 languages on this site. You can find the next 30 languages (21st to 50th in rating) on the Tiobe SoftwareWeb site.

Frequently Asked Questions
  • Q: What definition of programming languages has been used?

    A: The adopted definition is “any computer language which is either interpreted or compiled and is capable of manipulating data”. Based on this definition languages such as HTML and XML are not considered programming languages. ASP is also not because it is regarded a technique that makes use of other languages such as JavaScript and VBScript.

  • Q: How are dialects of languages grouped?

    A: Some languages are grouped together because they are very similar to each other. An example is the language entry Basic which covers Visual Basic, QBasic, Microsoft Basic, VB.NET, etc. The ratings for such a collection of languages is calculated by taking the maximum of all individual entries. Another example of a group of dialects is Delphi, Kylix and Pascal. Assembly languages are not grouped in the index because they differ so much from each other in our opinion that they are treated separately.

  • Q: Where can I send suggestions for improving this data?

    A: You can send ideas on how to improve the way the TPC index is calculated to us or you can send them to TIOBE directly.

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