Microsoft's C# language appears set to overtake C++ in popularity with developers, a monthly survey of programming languages finds. But the language could be held back because C++ is better for mobile application development, an official in charge of the survey said.
In a release this week of the Tiobe Programming Community Index, which gauges the popularity of different languages, C# was ranked fourth, used by 8.205% of developers, barely behind C++, used by 8.252%. C++ has been consistently ranked third in the index since 2001, occasionally overtaken by Perl, Visual Basic, and PHP. Topping this month's index were Java, used by 17.56%, followed by C, at 17.057%.
Throwing up a potential roadblock to C#'s rise is that C++ offers better performance and thus is better for mobile applications, said Paul Jansen, Tiobe managing director. "If you look at the current trends, C# will surpass C++ in the next couple of months. But there might be a chance that C++ is strong enough to stay atop of C# because it is better suited for mobile application development."
Tiobe does cite Microsoft changes to C# as a driving factor in its rise. "Almost every year a new, revolutionary language feature was added, and most of them were an instant success among programmers," Jansen said. "As a consequence, C# is currently known as the most modern and sexy language of all 'enterprise' programming languages." C++, meanwhile, has not gotten a lot of attention from Microsoft the past couple of years, Jansen said. "The only noticeable change they established in recent times was the creation of a bridge between C++ and C# called C++/CLI (Common Language Infrastructure), which is a kind of an extended subset of C++."
The Tiobe index bases popularity rankings based on the number of skilled engineers worldwide, courses, and third-party vendors associated with a language, with numbers determined by examining data from search engines such as Google and Yahoo as well as sites like Wikipedia and YouTube. Tiobe's index for the month also found more popularity for small languages running on the Java Virtual Machine. Groovy entered the top 50 languages, ranked at 45th, while Clojure entered the top 100.