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Dynamic Programming Languages on the Rise in Open Source : Page 2

In open source projects, static languages such as C, C++, and Java are losing ground to dynamic programming languages such as JavaScript and PHP.


The Data Behind the Shift

An in-depth look at Black Duck Software's KnowledgeBase reveals the truth behind these trends. The KnowledgeBase database consists of more than 220,000 open source projects with some 5.6 billion lines of code (considering only the latest and greatest releases). A few months ago, Black Duck ran language analysis on every source file in the database to find out which languages are used most frequently by open source projects.

Not surprisingly, open source developers chose C more often than any other language. However, for project releases that occurred in the past 12 months, C's market share fell a small amount relative to other languages. This doesn't necessarily mean that the amount of C being written is shrinking; it means that the use of C is growing more slowly than the use of other languages.

Programmers were turning to scripting languages such as JavaScript, PHP, and others. As a whole, static languages such as C, C++, and Java are giving way to these dynamic languages. Table 1 below offers an August 2009 snapshot of the Black Duck language analysis results.

Table 1. Market Share by Language for All Open Source Code, August 2009
Language All Projects – Share (%) Trailing 12-Month Share (%) Trailing 12-Month Gain/Loss (%)
C 40.91 40.34 -0.6
C++ 14.02 13.43 -0.6
Java 10.95 10.29 -0.7
Shell 8.96 7.05 -1.9
JavaScript 5.55 7.6 2.1
PHP 4.86 5.19 0.3
Perl 3.2 2.43 -0.8
Python 2.73 2.63 -0.1
SQL 1.6 2.65 1.1
C# 1.24 1.32 0.1
Assembler 1.23 0.83 -0.4
Pascal 0.91 0.73 -0.2
Ruby 0.78 1.01 0.2
TCL 0.4 0.28 -0.1
Ada 0.39 0.22 -0.2
*Source: www.blackducksoftware.com/oss/projects#language

Author's Note 1: The “All Projects – Share” column shows the results for all open source projects in the KnowledgeBase. The “Trailing 12-Month Share” narrows the results to show only code that was published or released in the most recent 12-month period, reflecting recent trends in language choice by open source developers.

Author's Note 2: Black Duck would not expect dramatic changes in these values over a 12 month time frame because each percentage point of share is about fifty million lines of code.

Open Source-Based Languages: The New De Facto Standard?

Languages popular with open source programmers will likely continue to grow as the use of open source grows within multi-source applications. With companies today looking for efficiencies both on fiscal and even environmental fronts, coders are going to choose those languages that most ably get the job done.

As the slow but steady shift towards dynamic programming languages occurs, web applications will be written more quickly at lower cost, and companies will save money by saving time. At the same time, web programmers will be able to do their jobs more easily, enabling them to direct their creativity to areas of innovation that create business value.

Eran Strod is director of product marketing for Black Duck Software. He has held various roles in engineering and product marketing with Motorola Computer Group, freescale Semiconductor, CSPI, and Data General. He holds a dual BA degree in Computer Science and Psychology from UC Santa Cruz and graduated from the Northeastern University High-Technology MBA program.
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