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Apple’s Swift Language ‘Levelling Off’

Matt Broersma is a long standing tech freelance, who has worked for Ziff-Davis, ZDnet and other leading publications

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Swift has quickly become one of the most widely used programming languages, but has reached a plateau just behind Google’s Go

The rise in popularity of Apple’s Swift programming language, introduced in 2014, seems to be levelling off, according to new rankings from IT analysis firm RedMonk.

The rankings, based on data from code repository GitHub and discussion site Stack Overflow, found that Swift retained its spot at no. 17, two places behind Google’s Go, which held the no. 15 spot.

Apple devices

Swift growth

“Having followed an unprecendented growth trajectory since its introduction, this run is the first in which Swift has not gained but merely held its position,” RedMonk said in a statement. “It’s clear that further gains for Swift will not come easily.”

The rankings are intended to reflect broad trends in programming at a time when the government and industry warn of a persistent skills shortage in the IT sector.

The growth of Swift reflects the popularity of Apple’s iOS platform, and further growth could be aided by Apple’s publication of the language as open source and its work with third parties including IBM, RedMonk said.

The firm said that, in general, the bi-annual rankings show little movement amongst the most popular languages, with no change at all amongst those in the top 10, which may indicate a slowing of the process of fragmentation, which makes it more difficult for different languages and platforms to work together.

Solidity at the top

“It’s becoming apparent that it will take a serious push – or crisis – to significantly alter the dynamics of the top tier,” RedMonk stated.

The top 10 languages were JavaScript, Java, PHP, Python, C#, C++, Ruby, CSS, C and Objective-C.

Many of the languages in the top 10, such as JavaScript, Java, PHP, Python, C#, Ruby and CSS, are commonly used in the development of web applications, indicating the importance of such code.

The top 10 also indicates the continued influence of C, which has guided the development of Objective-C, C++, C# and others.

C, originally developed by Dennis Ritchie between 1969 and 1973 at Bell Labs, is widely used for implementing desktop applications and operating systems, and was ranked top in another recent list using a different methodology.

The R language, widely used in large-scale data analysis, has shown the most consistent upward movement over time, rising from no. 17 in 2012 and this time around taking the no. 12 spot from Perl, RedMonk said.

“There’s still an enormous amount of Perl in circulation, but the fact that the more specialised R has unseated the language once considered the glue of the web says as much about Perl as it does about R,” the firm stated.

R also held a high rank in the IEEE Spectrum rankings published last month.

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