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Development Analyst: 'TypeScript Is Exploding'

Developer-focused analyst firm RedMonk, known for publishing one of the leading indices that measure programming language popularity, has noted the growth of Microsoft's TypeScript, stating it's "exploding" in relation to other languages.

The examination of the open source TypeScript's popularity came in a blog post last week, separate from the firm's biannual popularity rankings. The most recent such ranking, though, published in March, also noted TypeScript's ascension, stating:

When we ran these rankings a year ago at this time, TypeScript had surged into the Top 20 landing at No. 17. It didn't quite match that jump in this run, but movement within the top 20 is much more difficult to accomplish so its four-spot bump is notable for that reason alone.

It is also notable because by moving up four spots, it finds itself in 12th place, just outside the Top 10 and right behind Swift – the fastest growing language in the history of these rankings.

Here's a comparison of RedMonk's January 2019 and June 2018 rankings, which allow ties:

January 2019 June 2018
1 JavaScript 1 JavaScript
2 Java 2 Java
3 Python 3 Python
4 PHP 4 PHP
5 C# 5 C#
6 C++ 6 C++
7 CSS 7 CSS
8 Ruby 8 Ruby
9 C 9 C
10 Objective-C 9 Objective-C
11 Swift 11 Swift
12 TypeScript 12 Scala
13 Scala 12 Shell
14 Shell 14 Go
15 Go 14 R
15 R 16 TypeScript
17 PowerShell 17 PowerShell
18 Perl 18 Perl
19 Haskell 19 Haskell
20 Kotlin 20 Lua

In last week's post, analyst James Governor examined in more detail the popularity hike, as exemplified in this graphic (created by analyst Rachel Stephens):

Top 20 Languages Over Time
[Click on image for larger view.] Top 20 Languages Over Time (source: RedMonk).

"When I first looked at it the data point that immediately struck me was the rise of TypeScript," Governor said. "At a glance it looks like TypeScript is about to overtake Swift in terms of popularity. But then, the chart is actually about the position of languages relative to one another, rather than reflecting any absolute metrics. Swift remains the fastest growing programming language we've ever seen using our methodology–it exploded in mid 2016. But new technology adoption tends to look like an s-curve, and Swift may indeed have begun to saturate its niche."

He sliced and diced the data in different ways -- including GitHub pull requests and awarded stars (the regular RedMonk index ranks languages based on the number of StackOverflow tags and number of GitHub projects) -- to shed further light on TypeScript's rise.

"So what is driving TypeScript growth?" he said. "One high level answer is that more strongly typed languages -- in which you need to define the type of information in a variable up front -- are having a renaissance. Rust, for example, has gained a passionate following in the systems programming space -- you can now get jobs writing Rust with folks including Cloudflare, Fastly and PingCAP."

Despite TypeScript's encroachment upon the bailiwick of parent JavaScript, Governor concluded "JavaScript is the fittest" language for a number of niches.

Nevertheless, he had high praise for Microsoft's handling of TypeScript and other dev tools: "While it's currently fashionable to talk about opportunities that Microsoft has missed, there are some things it's never lost sight of -- namely the important of developer productivity.

"Visual Studio Code has won converts in multiple languages -- even more impressive because code editors are one of the things software developers are least pragmatic about. Code offers excellent, 'just works', support for TypeScript. Developers love Code, they love TypeScript, and they love GitHub. These are all excellent platforms in their own right. Together that's an amazing, rich set of services to build momentum on."

Governor noted that Microsoft is a client.

About the Author

David Ramel is an editor and writer for Converge360.

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