Aug 2

Tim O'Reilly

Tim O'Reilly

Programming Language Trends

In his presentation at OSCON, Roger Magoulas, the director of O'Reilly Research, provided some interesting graphs based on our trends data mart. Here's the 3-year programming language market share trend based on computer book sales:

Programming Language market share trend in computer books

I wrote yesterday about the rise of Ruby and Javascript, driven by the move towards Web 2.0 applications. Also worthy of note in these graphs is the long, slow decline of Java and C/C++, and the continuing rise in market share of C#. You can see how Ruby's sharp ascent follows the introduction of Rails, and that PHP's fortunes reversed before book sales showed that web developers in search of rapid development languages moved over to RoR (and Microsoft's ASP.Net suite of technologies.)

Also worth noting on this chart is that book sales tend to spike even before the release of commercial languages, as the vendors work with publishers to get books out by the release date, while books on open source projects tend to trail the release date. On the one hand, you could interpret this as meaning that open source is slower to market, but I think it says the opposite: open source projects can move fast, and catch publishers by surprise. Few publishers expected the quick uptake of Java AJAX and Ruby on Rails.

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Comments: 44

adamsj [08.02.06 06:24 AM]

Few publishers expected the quick uptake of Java and Ruby on Rails.

You mean Javascript, right?

The trendline I find most interesting is the one that isn't like any other one, in at least two senses: SQL. It's not a programming language like any of the others, and it's got a slow, steady trend upward.

What makes this particularly interesting is that various BI vendors will tell you that writing SQL by hand is obsolete, since their products will generate it for you. That's an exaggeration with some truth in it--I never want to write a simple reporting rollup again--and a big lie underneath it, as there is always platform-specific optimization to do even for the SQL that the tools will generate. More importantly, they don't really generate everything you want, just the more routine, repeatable stuff.

Anyway, you'd expect SQL books to trend downward, if that it true, but it isn't, so it's no.

I don't suppose there's any data on SQL dialect, is there?

Tom Welsh [08.02.06 06:32 AM]

Strikes me that the methodology - although it's the only one easily open to you - is suspect. Suppose people are buying lots of books on C#; does that really correlate with high usage of C#? Personally, if I had some people writing an application for me, I would be happier if their first move was NOT to rush out and buy books about it. I would prefer them to know the language pretty well already.

So, while there will be some correlation, I wonder if the high C# book sales might simply reflect the f