With help from Docker, Google's Go jumps in popularity

The language has climbed to 16th place in Tiobe index and could claim Programming Language of the Year honors

Google's Go language, which anchors projects like Kubernetes and Docker, keeps climbing the charts in language popularity.

Ranked 65th a year ago in the Tiobe Index of language popularity, it was ranked 16th this month and is on track to become Tiobe's Programming Language of the Year, a designation awarded to the language with the biggest jump in the index.

"Google's Go language seems to be unrivaled, probably boosted by the immense popularity of Docker, the container application that is written in Go," said a report accompanying the index, which gauges popularity based on a formula assessing searches on languages in popular search engines.

While Go was rated at 1.809 percent in this month's index, it was rated at .139 in October 2015 -- a figure index producer Paul Jansen, Tiobe managing director, believes was artificially low, resulting in changes in the formula. In September of 2015, Go had jumped to the 44th spot after being ranked 95th a year earlier.

In the alternative PyPL Popularity of Programming Language index, which looks at searches on language tutorials in Google, Go was in 18th place this month, with a share of .4 percent. "Go is especially very good in multi-threading, making use of multi-core platforms," Jansen said. "We see that is being adopted now also by our industrial customers. So that is a good sign."

Groovy also is doing well, slotted in 17th place this month, with a rating of 1.769 percent. It was rated at .65 percent one year ago. "Why Groovy is doing that well really wonders me," Jansen said. "I would expect Scala to be in more demand. Both Scala and Groovy are languages that run on the same VM as Java." Scala came in 33rd place this month with a rating of .611 percent.

Other Language of the Year candidates include R, Objective-C, and Swift. R, ranked 20th with a rating of 1.741 percent, has more than doubled its rating for October 2015. But the real surprise is that both Objective-C and Swift are vying for the honor, since Swift is a more modern successor to Objective-C.

In this month's index, Objective-C was ranked 10th, with a rating of 2.263 percent, while Swift was 12th, with a 2.004 rating. "I think Swift will eventually replace Objective-C. But the popularity index is also about emotions," Jansen said. People realize the migration to Swift will not happen that fast, thus it remains interesting to invest in Objective-C too for the time being, he noted. And the mobile app market is still growing, so it is no surprise that both languages, used for iOS development, are increasing -- in fact, Jansen said that "it surprises me that Swift is still not in the top 10."

Elsewhere in the index, Java again came in first place, with an 18.799 rating while C, still in second place, nonetheless continued its precipitous drop, to 9.835 percent (it had been 16.185 percent a year ago). In third was C++ (5.797) followed by C# (4.367), Python (3.775), JavaScript (2.751), PHP (2.741), Visual Basic .Net (2.66), and Perl (2.495). In the PyPL index, the top 10 were: Java, with a share of 23.4 percent, followed by Python (13.6 percent), PHP (9.9), C# (8.8), JavaScript (7.6), C++ (6.9), C (6.9), Objective-C (4.5), R (3.3) and Swift (3.1).

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