Swift cracks list of the most popular coding languages in the world


ios 11
Swift has been a massive success since launching in 2014.
Image: Cult of Mac

Apple’s Swift programming language it continuing its ascent through the coding ranks. According to a new quarterly ranking by developer-focused analyst firm RedMonk, Swift has entered the top 10 programming languages as indicated on GitHub and Stack Overflow.

The rest of the top 10 (from no. 1 through no. 9) is comprised of JavaScript, Java, Python, PHP, C#, C++, CSS, Ruby, and Swift and Apple’s previous coding language Objective-C ranking in joint tenth place.

Referring to Swift, the report notes that:

“Finally, the apprentice is now the master. Technically, this isn’t entirely accurate, as Swift merely tied the language it effectively replaced – Objective C – rather than passing it. Still, it’s difficult to view this run as anything but a changing of the guard. Apple’s support for Objective C and the consequent opportunities it created via the iOS platform have kept the language in a high profile role almost as long as we’ve been doing these rankings.

Even as Swift grew at an incredible rate, Objective C’s history kept it out in front of its replacement. Eventually, however, the trajectories had to intersect, and this quarter’s run is the first occasion in which this has happened. In a world in which it’s incredibly difficult to break into the Top 25 of language rankings, let alone the Top 10, Swift managed the chore in less than four years. It remains a growth phenomenon, even if its ability to penetrate the server side has not met expectations.”

Launched in 2014, the rapid growth of Swift is no great surprise. Like the equally rapidly growing Apple Music, which is poised to overtake Spotify in paid subscribers in the U.S., Swift has the benefit of the Apple machine behind it.

In particular, Apple has launched apps like Swift Playgrounds to attract younger users, while introducing an educational curriculum involving Swift which is now taught internationally. Apple has also taken steps to promote code literacy by launching an App Accelerator in India, teaching locals to code, as well as making similar classes available for free inside Apple Stores.

RedMonk additionally notes that its list is not a guarantee of the usage of each coding language, so much as an overall indicator. Its methodology involves extracting language rankings from GitHub and Stack Overflow, then combining these for a ranking that attempts to reflect both code (GitHub) and discussion (Stack Overflow) traction.

“The idea is not to offer a statistically valid representation of current usage, but rather to correlate language discussion and usage in an effort to extract insights into potential future adoption trends,” the report notes.