While it may seem like the most popular programming languages have little in common, an analysis by GitHub has found otherwise.
By poring over the most popular and fastest-growing languages for 2018, GitHub discovered that developers prize a handful of features shared by the top choices.
By GitHub’s definitions, the fastest-growing programming languages are those that have seen the largest growth in the proportion of contributors to code repositories over the past year, and the most-popular languages are those whose repositories have the largest number of contributors.
These are the three key features that GitHub, the world’s most popular code-hosting service, says link the top languages.
1. Safety when building large, multi-threaded apps
In general, developers want more of a safety net when creating more complicated applications, writes Thomas Elliott, data scientist at GitHub.
That desire for safety and predictability is evident in the rise of languages that support static typing, where developers can specify the type of each variable, allowing many errors to be flagged when code is compiled.
“With the exception of Python, we’ve seen a rise in static typing, likely because of the security and efficiency it offers individual developers and teams working on larger applications,” writes Elliott, who adds there is also an increased appetite for languages that make it easier to build stable multi-threaded applications.
“TypeScript’s optional static typing adds an element of safety, and Kotlin, in particular, offers greater interactivity, all while creating trustworthy, thread-safe programs.”
2. Interoperability and compatibility with existing languages
Among the fastest-growing languages, Elliott identifies a common theme of modern, more fully featured languages that are, to an extent, superseding older languages.
He highlighted how this interoperability, for instance Kotlin’s ability to run on the Java Virtual Machine (JVM), was transforming the dominant languages used in areas of application development, for example Google’s choice of Kotlin as a first-class language for building Android apps alongside Java.
3. Open source
Finally, being open-source is increasingly important for attracting developers to a language and for keeping them engaged, Elliott argues.
“Communities that evolve, answer questions, and create resources for newer languages like Kotlin can help developers start and continue working with them in 2018 and beyond,” he writes.