C Is Number One Language Again
Written by Harry Fairhead   
Wednesday, 06 May 2020

Yes, I know its all meaningless and you can't base any decision on it, but given I'm a C groupie you can't expect me to ignore the latest Tiobe index which puts C back at number one!

This month's index puts C, notice not C++ or C/C++ but just C, back at #1. It only beats Java by a little, but the idea that C could be more popular than Java is a strange idea - so many Java programmers and programs. Of course, it is likely that this is some sort of artifact, but it probably does represent some sort of resurgence of interest in C. It was also Tiobe's language of the year for 2020 for its bounce back in 2019.

Take a look at the chart:


 You can see that C and Java have been close for a long time and then in 2016 something happened to C. It drops until 2018 when it suddenly picks up again. Could it be the release of the C18 standard in 2018? I don't think so as the standard was a small fixing up of C11 and nothing to get excited about. Could the previous slump be something to do with the rise of "undefined behavior" putting people off C? No, because if you check with Google trends undefined behavior was big in 2004 but drops and levels off around 2013.

So what is the explaination?

In the Tiobe blog, Paul Jansen suggests:

"The last time C was number one was back in 2015. We can only guess why C is number one again. One of the reasons might be the Corona virus. This might sound silly but some programming languages really benefit from this situation. Examples are Python and R in the data sciences area because everybody is searching for an antidote for the virus. But also embedded software languages such as C and C++ are gaining popularity because these are used in software for medical devices."

Could it be that the reason is Corona-related? It doesn't seem that likely to be that programmers suddenly get into C to build a ventilator say, but I can't disprove it and I can't think of a better reason.


Also of note is that Rust is pushing its way into the top 20, moving from 27 to 21 in a single month. Now there is a language that might be a good choice for medical equipment, given its safely features.


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Last Updated ( Wednesday, 06 May 2020 )