Alternatives to the TIOBE Index

The TIOBE Index is a widely used measure for ranking the popularity of programming languages. It’s been criticized on various criteria. I wanted to explore some alternatives for measuring the usage of programming languages.

Langpop tracks a group of indicators to measure programming language popularity.

The Transparent Language Popularity Index is an open source tool that measures the popularity of programming languages on the web.

Jobs Tractor ranks language trends in programming jobs.

• RedMonk is a technology analyst firm that ranks programming languages.

• Programming book sales are another indicator of programming language popularity. The State of the Computer Book Market from O’Reilly Publishing describes sales trends in programming books.

• You can check LinkedIn profiles of software developers at top companies. These are the companies that have raised the most venture funding or received the most media buzz or generated amazing technical achievements. Then you can find out what programming languages are most popular. Information on funding rounds can be found on Crunchbase. Techmeme aggregates news about new and exciting startups and technology achievements.

• You can use sites like Alexa, Quantcast, and Compete to examine the levels of traffic to the most popular sites devoted to discussing certain programming languages.

• IT salary surveys are another useful resource. Most of these reports tend to talk about sysadmin skills instead of development skills, but some of them mention salary expectations connected with knowledge of specific programming languages.

• Sites like Dice and Indeed are other places to examine the popularity of programming languages in relation to certain job markets.

• Code search engines and code hosting sites may also provide useful information on the types of languages being used in projects (most of which are free or open source software). An example is GitHub’s Top Languages page.

Updated 5/22/2012