Changes in the rankings of programming languages"


Drew Conway ranked programming language by popularity on GitHub and Stackoverflow in 2010, and many people like it. I wrote this post after Stephen O'Grady's Ranking made a new ranking September 2012. He compares new data to the original data from 2010, but I am not impressed and doubt his conclusions:

  • raw data is missing (Drew Conway published his [raw data][rawdata2010] online)
  • Stephen O'Grady increased the number of languages, but compares ranks anyway
  • some new Top-20 is used to judge languages.

I don't understand how the Top 20 is built (is it GitHub's Top 20?). The whole point of such a ranking was to avoid Top 20. And if you want to compare two plots, the old and the new one, show how the points move. Plot displacements.

That's is why I decided to fetch and plot the data myself. This is my script. I compared to the recalculated ranks from the Drew's raw data. I had to recalculate ranks due to removing some languages from both sets (old and new). Some notes:

  • only common languages between two sets are compared (so ranks are comparable)
  • languages which definitely or mostly gained popularity rank have blue change arrows
  • languages which definitely or mostly lost popularity rank have red change arrows

"Mostly" means that the sum of both rank gains/loses is over 3. I don't know how to fetch the number of GitHub projects per language, and ranked by its negative popularity. So my gh.rank is not the same as the rank calculated by Drew Conway.

So this is new raw data for September 2012. And here it is the plot of rank changes:

changes plot

Arrow tips are not visible: all arrows point from the black points to the colored points. There are labels at their ends.

I have to admit, that Clojure is losing ranks, as well as other less popular languages (OCaml, Haskell, Erlang, Scheme, Lua, CL, to name some). Even C and Perl have been slightly displaced. Meanwhile someone brought a lot of Racket, Assembly, Ada, and Golang on GitHub. Racket gained more than Scheme lost. Does it mean that comparing ranks is meaningless? VimScript and F# have their Stackoverflow tags fixed. People talk a lot about Microsoft languages (C#, F#, VB.Net, ASP.Net), but the amount of code brought to GitHub lags behind. CoffeeScript is definitely a hit.