The analyst firm RedMonk has tracked programmers’ interest in various programming languages since 2011. During that time, Swift and Kotlin grew faster than any other language the firm tracked, including Google’s Go and Mozilla’s Rust. Earlier this year Swift, which Apple released in 2014, managed to tie with Apple’s much more established Objective-C language for tenth place in RedMonk’s rankings.
But the firm’s latest rankings, released last week, show Swift dropping to 11th place. Kotlin slipped from 27th place to 28th place. Though notable, slipping one place in one quarter doesn’t mean that Swift and Kotlin are in decline or even that they’ve peaked. “In general, we caution readers not to assign too much weight to small changes in the rankings; the differences between one spot or another, in general, tend to be slight,” RedMonk co-founder Stephen O’Grady wrote in a blog post analyzing the findings.
Also, RedMonk’s rankings don’t necessarily reflect how widely used a language is in commercial projects, or how many jobs are available for programmers versed in the language. Rather, the firm tries to gauge developer interest by charting the number of questions programmers ask about a language on the question-and-answer site StackOverflow and the number of projects hosted on the code-hosting and collaboration site GitHub. This can reveal trends and help companies decide what languages to use for new projects.
Languages generally see their biggest gains in their early months and years, since they’re starting from such a position, so it’s no surprise to see them cool off. But the world of programming languages could be stabilizing a bit after a decade of change.
In fact, RedMonk’s rankings have generally been pretty stable in recent years, especially towards the top of the list. By early 2016, it appeared that programmers were starting to make up their minds amongst all the new languages released over the past decade. But shake-ups do happen. Czech-based software company JetBrains officially released Kotlin in 2016, and Google announced that it would officially support the language on Android last year, leading to its meteoric rise.