Java the Most Popular Language, Swift Showing Greatest Growth in ProgrammableWeb Directories

Editor's note: Be sure to check out our research on the overall growth of Web APIs since 2005. At the time of writing, this is the most recent data we have, but check the research page to see if we have a more updated article. We will be continually updating the overall growth chart with other charts getting updated on a less frequent basis.

Which programming language is the most popular with developers? It’s a question that has been asked many times and can elicit many different answers. In the past we’ve looked to our directories to provide some insight into which language is most in demand. The growth of our SDK and Sample Source Code directories gives us an opportunity to take a fresh look at the data. We last looked at the data set from the end of 2016. Now we want to revisit the question of popular programming languages using updated data current as of the end of June 2018.

To start with, we’ll look at SDKs in our directory including official provider supplied as well as third-party kits (yes, one of the advantages of our new data model is that we can track both!). The table below shows the total number of SDKs and the number of SDKs added in 2016 broken out by language.

Language Total SDKs SDKs added since Jan 2017 % increase over 2016 total
Java 1825 804 78.75%
PHP 1786 947 112.87%
Python 1621 911 128.31%
Ruby 1232 543 78.81%
Node.js 1196 621 108.00%
JavaScript 1053 552 110.18%
Objective-C 893 287 47.36%
.NET 650 323 98.78%
C# 610 371 155.23%
Go 469 301 179.17%
Swift 243 164 207.59%
C++ 164 77 88.51%
Perl 154 80 108.11%
C 110 52 89.66%

Much like last time, we see that Java comes in as the language most represented in our SDK directory. The popularity of Java is likely explained by the rise of Android. This is because the official language for Android development is Java and that is the language its APIs are called from. StatCounter, an analytics service tracking internet usage shows that Android is the world's most popular operating system with a nearly 42% market share. ProgrammableWeb has looked into the question of which platform offers the best opportunity for developers and while the answer isn’t clear cut, what is clear is that Android has a deep user base that continues to spur Java development.

Popular server-side languages for building Web apps such as PHP, Python and Ruby come next. In terms of raw numbers, PHP and Python have had the most SDKs added since the beginning of 2017. These languages have proven popular with API startups and it is no surprise to see them well represented in the directory.

JavaScript and Node.js are worth noting because taken together, they would constitute the largest number of SDKs both in total and in newly added listings since 2017. The more we head out into the field to rub shoulders with developers, the more we hear about the advantages of JavaScript’s client and server-side (Node) presence when it comes to recruiting and managing developer talent.

When we last looked at our data, Go and Swift showed the highest percentage of growth even as the overall number of profiles for each remained relatively small. Swift, launched as an alternative to Objective-C for iOS developers, has seen the greatest growth by percentage at the same time as the popularity of Objective-C has waned.

We also used the same methodology to compile the data for our Sample Source Code directory seen below.

Language Total Sample Code Sample Code added in 2016 2016 as % gain of total
Java 1393 839 151.44%
PHP 1203 615 104.59%
Python 1026 610 146.63%
JavaScript 1011 682 207.29%
Ruby 758 393 107.67%
C# 544 334 159.05%
Node.js 543 346 175.63%
Objective-C 505 285 129.55%
.NET 498 319 178.21%
Go 171 110 180.33%
Swift 146 105 256.10%
Perl 104 30 40.54%
C++ 92 67 268.00%

Here again we see similar results to the SDK numbers as well as our previous research showing Java riding the popularity of Android, and PHP, Python, JavaScript and Ruby also well-represented. Just like with the SDK results, we see that Swift is rapidly growing in popularity.

If you are an API provider and want to list your SDKs or if you are an independent developer that has created a third-party SDK, you can use the link below to add your SDK to our growing directory.

If you have links to hosted code samples for your API; provided either by you or by your developer community, you can use the link below to add them to our Sample Code directory.

Be sure to read the next SDK article: Twitter Launches Twitter Kit 3 as First Standalone Version


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