C continues to decline in TIOBE rankings

According to new data from TIOBE, the popularity of C programming language has seen a consistent decline over the last 13 months. In mid-2015, Java had overtaken C as the most popular language on the TIOBE Programming Community index.

For those unfamiliar, TIOBE maintains a regularly updated list of the world’s most popular programming languages.

Considering how TIOBE’s December list places C in second place, which has remained unchanged from December 2015, its conclusion comes as a surprise. However, TIOBE sees some decline in interest in the language resulting in its downfall in popularity.

“The language was in a range of 15% to 20% for more than 15 years and this year it suddenly started to suffer,” read a note accompanying the latest update. “Its ratings are now less than 10% and there is no clear way back to the top,” reports the site, asking what happened to C? “It is not a language that you think of while writing programs for popular fields such as mobile apps or websites, it is not evolving that much and there is no big company promoting the language.”

The rankings on TIOBE is determined based on data from 25 search engines, including Google and Bing (an extensive breakdown of its methodology is available on its site). The final list is not a reflection of actual usage but shows a measurement of popularity of the languages. This makes TIOBE very different from, for instance say, GitHub, which ranks languages according to pull requests on its repositories.

So, what does make TIOBE think that C is declining? “Some months ago we already listed some possible reasons: it is not a language that you think of while writing programs for popular fields such as mobile apps or websites, it is not evolving that much and there is no big company promoting the language,” its note added.

TIOBE has hammered on C for quite some time, according to the Insights blog at Dice.com. Earlier this year, it again highlighted as to how C is “hardly suitable for the booming fields of web and mobile app development.” Having said that, there’s still an extensive demand for C, which can be used in everything from operating systems to data-intensive applications, and serves many programmers as well as an intermediate language, suggest job postings on Dice (as well as rankings compiled by other organizations).

In descending order, TIOBE’s top-ranked languages include Java, C, C++, Python, Visual Basic .NET, C#, and PHP. This list doesn’t come as a surprise, given those languages’ ubiquity. Further, even a small change in the number of developers using a language can cause it to climb up (or fall) several places in the rankings in the organization’s list.

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