Code Portal Predicts Promising Possibilities for Programmers

A head for computer code

One question I get from software developers on a pretty regular basis might be expressed most succinctly as, "Which programming languages are best to learn and know to help advance my career?" This can be a tricky question, because different platforms promote different allegiances, and also various combinations of languages and tools, as being "best of breed" for their prospective advocates.


Earlier this week, however, GitHub posted a snapshot of trends in the programming languages used in it private and public code repositories. GitHub is a Web-based code repository and hosting service that includes extensive revision control and source code management of Git, along with a Web-based graphical interface and desktop-plus-mobile integration, access controls, collaboration tools, and more.


GitHub's findings, compiled by tracking languages used under its aegis since 2008, reflect the relative and respective popularity of the various programming languages represented in its massive holding. The substance of those findings is both interesting and informative.


What would a trend analysis be without a guiding infographic? Far denser and more difficult to grasp, to be sure, so we should all be grateful that GitHub released a useful infographic to show the relative rankings of languages in its distributed code respositories.


Interested readers should recognize that the trends and rankings reflect only what's used inside GitHub, and not the entire development universe. With an increasing number of organizations and companies using GitHub for their code, however, it is at least reflective of the larger development world:


GitHub Languages over time


Ruby on Rails (shown as Ruby in the preceding graph) started out as the most popular language in the repository, which corresponds strongly to its widespread adoption in the open source community at the time that GitHub launched in 2008. The graphic also shows, however, that Java has come on strong in the GitHub user community over the past seven years.


In that interim, Java has moved from seventh place in 2008, to fifth place in 2010, third place in 2013, and second place in 2014. JavaScript has been in either first or second place since GitHub's inception (second place from 2008 through 2012, first place from 2013 through the present). Other strong players in the GitHub universe include:


? PHP, steady in 4th place from 2008 through 2015
? Python (3rd place from 2008 through 2011, 5th place from 2012 through 2015)
? CSS (6th place since 2014)
? C++ (7th place since 2011)
? C# (8th place this year, up from 10th place in 2011 and 2014)
? C (started in 5th place in 2008, trending down to 9th place in 2015)
? HTML (popped up in 10th place for 2015)
? Other languages that appear in trend data include Perl, Objective-C, various Shells


What this data tells aspiring developers — or those developers pondering changes to their current language and platform investments — is that classic Web development languages remain useful and valuable. Only those whose current portfolios lack any of the items mentioned in the preceding paragraph might have cause for concern.


Those, for example, whose portfolios encompass lower-ranked elements in the "Top 10" shown above should probably recognize that higher-ranked elements may offer more opportunities. (Bearing in mind, of course, that rankings tend to move around over time, both up and down.)


Oracle's excellent Java certifications can give a boost to those already interested or invested in Java. JavaScript training and learning opportunities are legion, even though outright certifications opportunities are not. Microsoft's C# is a potential focus for both MTA and MCSD credentials, and there is no shortage of training and certificate (if not outright certification) opportunities for JavaScript, CSS, HTML, PHP, and other Web-centric markup and programming languages.


Check out these stories from Tom's IT Pro where I've identified outstanding programming and Web-related certifications: Best Programming Certifications, Best Web Certifications and Best Mobile App Development Certifications (see the whole list of topics at Best IT Certifications for 2015).


For further information about the GitHub trend info and graphic, see the GitHub Language Trends piece (from Aug. 19), and Cade Metz's excellent commentary and analysis thereupon at ArsTechica GitHub's top coding languages show open source is everywhere (Aug. 20).


Would you like more insight into the history of hacking? Check out Calvin's other articles about historical hackery:
About the Author

Ed Tittel is a 30-plus-year computer industry veteran who's worked as a software developer, technical marketer, consultant, author, and researcher. Author of many books and articles, Ed also writes on certification topics for Tech Target, ComputerWorld and Win10.Guru. Check out his website at, where he also blogs daily on Windows 10 and 11 topics.