Could Python’s Popularity Outperform JavaScript in the Next Five Years?

JavaScript and Python are two influential programming languages for building a wide range of applications. While JavaScript has been the dominant programming language for many years, Python’s fast-growth threatens to dethrone the widely popular technology.

Melight, who has more than ten years of software development experience and currently teaches people his skills, says that “with the recent developments in the technology space, we are likely to see a neck and neck popularity competition between JavaScript vs. Python—and the latter could win most developers’ hearts.”

So, within the next five years, could Python’s popularity outperform that of JavaScript?

(This article is not about comparing the best programming language between JavaScript and Python. The two languages are distinct with different use cases and you cannot entirely substitute one for the other).

JavaScript’s domineering popularity

Initially released in 1995, JavaScript is a scripting programming language that is mainly used for adding interactivity to web pages. There are also other advanced versions of the language such as Node.js which are used for adding extra functionalities on the server-side of applications.

In fact, it is estimated that about 94.9% of all websites use JavaScript.

Here are three main reasons which make JavaScript popular:

  • JavaScript can be used both on the client-side and server-side. Therefore, developers have found it easy to use the language and side-step other server-side languages like PHP.
  • JavaScript is a cross-platform programming language. For example, by using the Facebook-supported React Native JavaScript library, you can build applications to be deployed both on desktop and mobile platforms.
  • There is a large community of JavaScript enthusiasts who back the continued use of the language. Without people who are actively using the language and supporting its continued adoption, the dynamic language could have not sailed to its current glory.

According to the Stack Overflow’s 2018 Developer Survey Results, JavaScript is the most common programming language.

Here is a Stack Overflow chart that shows the popularity of the various programming languages:

Here is a Stack Overflow chart that shows the popularity of the various programming languages:

As shown on the above chart, Stack Overflow users prefer JavaScript as their language of choice. While 69.8% of the surveyed users asserted their love for JavaScript, only 38.8% declared their solid relationship with Python. Amazingly, JavaScript has dominated the number one position for the last six years.

Furthermore, GitHub also reported that JavaScript is still the champion of programming languages. According to a study done towards the end of 2017, the code-sharing website mentioned that most developers prefer using JavaScript for their repositories.

Here is a GitHub chart that shows the number of pull requests represented by each programming language on the platform:

Here is a GitHub chart that shows the number of pull requests represented by each programming language on the platform:

As shown on the above chart, most users preferred using JavaScript for their pull requests. Interestingly, Python was the second-most used language on the platform—indicating its attempts to dethrone JavaScript in the near future.

Python’s rising popularity

Initially released in 1991 (so, it’s older than JavaScript), Python is a powerful programming language that is increasingly gaining traction. It’s is a high-level, general-purpose language that is used in completing an extensive range of tasks, including building web applications, analyzing data, and creating machine learning algorithms.

Here are three main reasons contributing to Python’s incredible increased usage:

  • Python is receiving a lot of accolades because of its uncomplicated and easy to use syntax. The language emphasizes on code readability and simplicity, something which has made it a preferred choice for many first-time developers.
  • Python’s reliability and efficiency have won the love of many artificial intelligence experts. Therefore, with the current rise in the use of machine learning and data science applications, Python has become the preferred choice for professionals in the fields. What’s more, there are several Python libraries, which simplify completing various scientific tasks.
  • Just like JavaScript, Python also has an active community that supports the growth of the language. Python has been around for several years; therefore, there are plenty of guides and publications that allow users to easily find support—whether they are beginners or experienced.

For the first time in history, Python was ranked the third most popular programming language in the TIOBE Programming Community Index for September 2018. The index is calculated on a monthly basis and the ratings are based on the search engine results of the programming languages.

Here is a TIOBE index chart for September 2018:

Here is a TIOBE index chart for September 2018

Because of Python’s increased use in completing various technology tasks, Stack Overflow brands it the “fastest growing major programming language.”

Here is a Stack Overflow chart showing how Python has grown as compared to other programming languages from 2012 to 2018 in high-income countries:

Stack Overflow chart showing how Python has grown as compared to other programming languages from 2012 to 2018

As shown on the above data about programming language trends, Python recorded the highest number of overall question views on Stack Overflow for the first time in June 2017—and closely followed by JavaScript.  This points to remarkable growth because in 2012, interest in Python on the platform was very low; in fact, the language has grown by 2.5 times from that time.

Furthermore, Stack Overflow built a model to forecast the future traffic for the major programming languages in the next two years.

Here is the result of the prediction:

Stack Overflow model to forecast the future traffic for the major programming languages in the next two years

Amazingly, the model predicted that Python could stay in the lead against JavaScript in 2020.

Additionally, Stack Overflow compared year-over year-growth rate in traffic of the major programming languages between 2016 and 2017.

Here is the result of the analysis:

Stack Overflow year-over year-growth rate in traffic of the major programming languages between 2016 and 2017

As shown on the screenshot above on the latest programming language trends, Python realized a high year-over year-growth rate of 27%, which indicates its fast growth. Surprisingly, JavaScript realized very minimal growth in traffic within the two years.

Wrapping up

While JavaScript has been referred to as the “Lingua Franca” of the Internet for many years, Python could outstrip it of this title—based on the data that shows Python’s incredible growth.

Nonetheless, time will tell whether Python deserves that title.

Importantly, these changing trends in software development point to the most appropriate programming languages to learn as you prepare for the future.

So, which language do you think will dominate web development future?

Could Python dwarf JavaScript in popularity in the next five years?

Please provide your thoughts in the comment section below.

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