Most Popular programming languages in 2020

For beginners in the world of programming, the biggest dilemma is to decide where to begin or what are the most popular languages that one should master for career benefits. At times, professional coders also face a situation where learning a new language seems more fruitful.

Whatever may be the reason, here is a list of the most popular programming languages across the world to know which languages are ruling the charts. This list of top programming languages is based on the data sourced from the TIOBE Programming Community Index — a popular indicator of the popularity of programming languages.

TIOBE calculates the ratings by analyzing data from Google, Yahoo!, Bing, Wikipedia, Amazon, Baidu, and YouTube. Variables like the number of professional developers worldwide, training courses, and third-party vendors have also factored in this list.

July 2020 headline: C beats Java

The TIOBE Programming Community index is updated every month and the results for July 2020 are here. Back in the month of June, we finally got to see a change in the top three most popular programming languages where C has surpassed Java and claimed the first position, displacing Java to second.

Meanwhile, Python continues to maintain its third position with very little decline in its popularity. Overall, there is almost no change in the top 5 languages as all of them are maintaining their positions from the previous month and are growing incrementally in terms of popularity each month. Now let’s take a look at the other big changes:

All Time High For R programming Language

Once again, developers are expressing their interest in the R programming language that is mostly used in the Data Science field. Over the span of one year, R has climbed 14 places in the list, moving from 22nd to 8th position. This is the highest position R has ever scored on TIOBE Index. It can be largely attributed to the increasing growth of Data Science jobs and the adoption of R by more programmers.

A few months ago it seemed like Python had won the battle of statistical programming, but it’s clear that R’s popularity is still increasing in the slipstream of Python.

Rust continues to grow steadily

It’s been almost a decade since Rust was first released. Now Rust has finally made it to the top 20 in the list of most popular programming languages. Last month it ranked in 20th position and this month it has climbed up to the 18th position. However, it isn’t a big surprise as Rust has already been voted as the most loved programming language by Stackoverflow for the last five consecutive years.

This can be attributed to the fact that Rust is a system programming language that has been made the right way. Rust essentially eliminates issues likememory safety in other languages like C/C++ while being statically strongly typed.

Earlier have seen D, Lua, and Julia attempting to beat C and C++ but Rust seems to be the first one to come really close.

Scratch is catching up

Apple’s programming language Scratch is seeing a steady growth since the past few months as it manages to climb one position higher each time. This time, Scratch has been ranked at 17th position just above Rust.

Top 10 Most Popular Programming Languages In 2020

The following list contains the top 20 programming languages and their performance in comparison to last year’s ratings. After that, the top 10 languages have been individually described in brief:

Jul 2020Jul 2019ChangeProgramming LanguageRatingsChange
12C16.45%0.0224
21Java15.10%0.0004
33 Python9.09%-0.17%
44 C++6.21%-0.49%
55 C#5.25%0.0088
66 Visual Basic5.23%0.0103
77 JavaScript2.48%0.18%
820R2.41%1.57%
98PHP1.90%-0.0027
1013Swift1.43%0.31%
119SQL1.40%-0.0058
1216Go1.21%0.19%
1312Assembly language0.94%-0.45%
1419Perl0.87%-0.04%
1514MATLAB0.84%-0.24%
1611Ruby0.81%-0.83%
1730Scratch0.72%0.35%
1833Rust0.70%0.0036
1923PL/SQL0.68%-0.01%
2017Classic Visual Basic0.66%-0.0035

Now let’s talk about the ones that have managed to secure top 10 positions in this list:

1. The good old C programming language

As one of the oldest programming languages, C still stands as one of the top programming languages, thanks to its portability feature and early adoption by tech giants including Microsoft, Oracle, and Apple. It can work with nearly every system and is highly suitable for operating systems and embedded systems.

Since it has a relatively small runtime, C makes the perfect choice for keeping such systems lean. Highly recommended for beginners, C is essentially the universal language of programming languages and has given birth to spinoffs like C++ and C# which are also quite popular.

Career Opportunity:  Software Developer, Application Developer, Tester

C programming for beginners

2. Java – continues to dominate

Java still continues to top the most popular programming language charts for the past several years. According to TIOBE’s data, Java has secured the first and second positions more than any other language for about a couple of decades.

A large number of renowned companies use Java to develop software and applications so if you happen to know Java, you definitely won’t have to struggle to find a job. The major reasons behind the popularity of Java are its portability, scalability and a large community of users.

Career Opportunity: Web developer, Application developer, EJB programmer, Software Developer, Tester, etc.

Learn Java from Scratch

3. Python – on the rise

The last 15 years have seen steady growth in the popularity of Python. This year too, Python has seen a significant rise in the index and deemed as one of the most popular programming languages. It has been able to secure a spot in the top 5 of the TIOBE index for the past couple of years.

As the major language behind some of the most promising technologies, today such as AI, machine learning, Big Data, and robotics, Python has amassed a huge fanbase in recent years. You will be surprised by learning how easy it is to learn Python and this is the reason why many seasoned developers opt Python as their second or third language.

Career Opportunity: Software Engineer, Software Developer,  Web Developer, Quality Assurance Engineer, Data Science

Python 3 Bootcamp

4. C++ continues to dominate

This object-oriented programming language was developed in the 1980s and is still found in numerous systems from desktop web apps to server infrastructure. C++ still remains in demand owing to its flexibility, performance, and multiple contexts where you can use it.

A career in C++ would usually involve the development of desktop applications which are focused on performance-intensive tasks. Mastery of C++ can give a deeper understanding of how programming languages and help in acquiring low-level memory manipulation skills.

Career Opportunity: Operating Systems and Compilers, Database engines, Gaming industry, Financial platforms,
Embedded systems

C++ for absolute beginners

5. C# – Game developers’ favorite

C# is a modern object-oriented programming language that was developed by Microsoft to rival Java, which was heavily used by business software developers at that time. It was designed for developing apps on the Microsoft platform and needs the .NET framework on Windows to work.

You can use C# to develop almost anything but it’s particularly strong in case of Windows desktop applications and games development. After seeing a constant decline in its popularity in the past two years, C# finally seems to gain traction as it has shifted one position upwards this year, pushing away Visual Basic .NET

Career opportunity: Game Developer, Application Engineer

The Complete C# Foundation

6. Visual Basic .NET

Even though Visual Basic .NET continues to hold the sixth position as last year in the most popular programming languages list for 2020, there is an overall decline in the ratings of the language. It is one of Microsoft’s OOP languages that combines the power of .NET Framework-based classes and run-time environment.

Derived from VB6, it is well known for the development of GUI applications making tasks easier for programmers and improving productivity. For coders, VB .NET offers a fast and easy way to create desktop applications for the Windows platform as well as web-services and web development.

Career Opportunity: Senior Engineer, Software Developer, DevOps Engineer, QA Automation Engineer

Guide to VB.NET

7. JavaScript is an essential

JavaScript has not only managed to secure the seventh position consistently among the top programming languages, but there is a slight decline in its overall ratings. All software developers these days use JavaScript in some way or the other. Used along with HTML and CSS, it is essential for front-end web development that creates interactive web pages and displays content dynamically to users.

Over 90% of the websites use this language and it is one of the friendliest programming languages for learners, to begin with. So, there will be no shortage of opportunities if you master JavaScript. However, you will need to learn other supporting languages and frameworks to pursue a career as a front-end developer for desktop, mobile app, or game development.

Career Opportunity: Web Developer, Software Developer, App Developer, UI/UX Engineer

JavaScript: Complete Guide

8. Programmers R loving it

The demand for R programming language and the number of people using it is increasing rapidly in recent years. For the past several months, it had struggled to find a place in the top 10. But it is evident from its TIOBE ranking that R has significantly improved by 13 places moving up from 22 to 9 in the last one year. For data scientists, R stands as the number one choice for statistics, graphic representation, and data visualization analysis. It has turned into a Big Data tool and finds its uses in machine learning, and some areas of scientific computing too. The scope and future of R programming look quite promising, and it is definitely a stable and profitable career choice for people interested in data science.

Career Opportunity: Data Scientist, Business Analyst, Big Data Engineer

Complete Introduction to R

9. PHP for Web Development

According to TIOBE, after getting displaced by JavaScript and shifting down to number eight in on the most popular programming languages index in 2020 — PHP has stabilized. PHP is mostly used on the server-side for web development accounting for about 80% percent of websites on the internet. Facebook began its journey with PHP and its role in the WordPress content management system makes it quite popular.

PHP offers several frameworks like Laravel and Drupal to help developers build applications faster with more scalability and robustness. Hence, if you are looking for a career in web development, PHP is not a bad choice, to begin with.

Career Opportunity: Web Developer, App Developer

Advanced PHP programming

10. Swift

In 2010, Apple started developing a new programming language called Swift that can rival Objective-C in a few areas — specifically where type safety, security, and better on-hardware performance is concerned. Swift is supposedly more than 2.6x faster than Objective-C and more than 8.4x faster than Python. And the first version of Swift was released in September 2014. Ever since then, Swift has continued to grow gradually and with the release of Swift 5.0, the language continues to be embraced by several iOS and macOS developers. Now, Swift is Apple’s official language and anyone seeking a career as iOS/macOS developer should learn Swift.

Career Opportunity: iOS, OS X, watchOS, and tvOS app developer.

Learn Swift Programming Step by Step

Also Read: Best Programming, Scripting, and Markup Languages To Learn 

It’s time to choose the most popular programming language

This concludes the list of the most popular programming languages you should learn in 2020. I hope the programming language rating in this article helps you choose the right language career path based on your interests and the type of software development you would like to indulge in. Each language has its pros and cons, so take your time in weighing each option and choose accordingly. More importantly, make sure you hold a good command over the language you choose for programming. Until then, enjoy coding!

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An Editor and a Tech Journalist with a software development background. I am a big fan of technology and memes. At Fossbytes, I cover all aspects of tech but my specific area of interest is Programming and Development. Drop an email if you have any software/hardware/research to share or tech-related queries!