The Great Programming Language Survey, poll #1: use

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What programming language(s) do you use most?

assembly
2
1%
Basic (any flavour)
6
2%
C
31
9%
C#
20
6%
C++
51
15%
D
1
0%
Fortran
3
1%
Haskell
7
2%
Java
37
11%
Javascript
26
7%
Lisp: Common Lisp
3
1%
Lisp: Scheme
6
2%
Lua
7
2%
MATLAB
4
1%
ML
0
No votes
Pascal (any flavour)
2
1%
Perl
7
2%
PHP
16
5%
Prolog
0
No votes
Python
68
20%
R
8
2%
Ruby
9
3%
Scala
0
No votes
SQL
17
5%
other
17
5%
 
Total votes: 348

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Jplus
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The Great Programming Language Survey, poll #1: use

Postby Jplus » Fri Sep 27, 2013 3:28 pm UTC

Please also vote in poll #2 which you can find here.

Thread rules:
  • Please do not read the spoiler below until you have voted in both polls.
  • Please do not reply to either thread until you have read the spoiler below.
  • Poll results are not significant until we have at least 100 votes. Do not interpret the results unless both polls have at least 100 votes.
  • You may discuss the setup of the survey in this thread in a spoiler.
  • You may post in this thread to name what "other" programming language(s) you use most iff you voted "other".
  • You may post in the other thread to name what "other" programming language(s) you like most iff you voted "other".
  • You may post in this thread to explain why you are using these particular languages most, but keep it personal.
  • You may post in the other thread to explain why you like those particular languages most, but keep it personal.
  • Please do not compare your most-used or most-liked language(s) at the expense of other languages.
  • Please do not react to somebody else's reasons for using or liking a language.

You have ultimate freedom to discuss what you love or hate about a programming language here.
You have ultimate freedom to enter any argumentative discussion about programming languages here.

Spoiler:
At the Coding and Religious Wars forums, some languages are discussed more than others. I made the following table using
google "site:forums.xkcd.com analytical engines QUERY":

Code: Select all

#hits   QUERY
  1360  Python
  1080  C++
   954  Java -Javascript
   896  Scheme
   761  Javascript
   595  assembly
   462  assembler
   450  Perl
   381  C#
   365  Lisp
   311  Haskell
   289  SQL
   288  MATLAB
   283  Ruby
   153  Common Lisp
   152  Pascal
   134  Fortran
   123  Prolog
    88  ML -water -container
    82  Lua
    71  Scala
    66  Erlang
    58  Ada -Adacore -"Ada Lovelace"
    58  Smalltalk
    45  Groovy
    38  F#
    37  Ocaml
    24  Clojure
     1  ATS


Note that I couldn't include the following languages because of filtering issues:
  • C, D and R are too common as standalone letters.
  • PHP matches every forum page because it's part of the URL.
  • Basic, Forth and Go are common words.

I thought it would be interesting to see whether there are systematic differences between the languages that are used most and the languages that are discussed most, or between the languages that are liked most and the languages that are discussed most.

The polls include the 20 most discussed proper languages from the table above, as well as Basic, C, D and R.

It might be interesting to repeat the entire survey after a few years.


Edit: For general interest I'll keep track of what people name as "other".
bash/sh (2) -- OCaml (1) -- Dart (1) -- Elixir (1) -- Postscript (1) -- Mathematica (1) -- PGSQL (1) -- Clojure (1)
Last edited by Jplus on Sun Feb 02, 2014 1:38 pm UTC, edited 8 times in total.

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Re: The Great Programming Language Survey, poll #1: use

Postby ahammel » Sat Sep 28, 2013 2:24 am UTC

"Other", for me, was bash/sh, which I'm a bit surprised wasn't an option.
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Re: The Great Programming Language Survey, poll #1: use

Postby PM 2Ring » Sat Sep 28, 2013 5:38 am UTC

ahammel wrote:"Other", for me, was bash/sh, which I'm a bit surprised wasn't an option.

Spoiler:
I was also surprised by that, and the omission of awk, although I don't use awk much these days since learning Python. For that matter, I don't write bash scripts as much these days, either.

Another language I enjoy & use is PostScript; maybe I'm just weird, but I actually like doing stuff in RPN. :)

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Re: The Great Programming Language Survey, poll #1: use

Postby Link » Sat Sep 28, 2013 8:13 am UTC

Voted C, C++ and Python. I use C for hobby projects a lot (including AVR programming), C++11 for when I need features that aren't easily implemented in C (and for when I want a GUI, in which case I usually use Qt), and Python for quick/simple projects and for university (often in conjunction with matplotlib).

It's likely I'll end up using LabView a lot in the future, as well.

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Re: The Great Programming Language Survey, poll #1: use

Postby b.i.o » Sat Sep 28, 2013 9:54 am UTC

other: OCaml

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Re: The Great Programming Language Survey, poll #1: use

Postby WanderingLinguist » Sat Sep 28, 2013 12:46 pm UTC

other: Dart

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Re: The Great Programming Language Survey, poll #1: use

Postby Jplus » Sun Sep 29, 2013 6:59 am UTC

ahammel wrote:"Other", for me, was bash/sh, which I'm a bit surprised wasn't an option.

PM 2Ring wrote:I was also surprised by that, and the omission of awk, although I don't use awk much these days since learning Python. For that matter, I don't write bash scripts as much these days, either.

I omitted bash mostly just because I forgot about it. But if I didn't I still wouldn't include it because it isn't a general purpose language and including it would require me to at least also include Powershell. Note that I had to restrict myself to 25 options because the forum software doesn't allow larger polls. I'd say awk isn't really general purpose either and I didn't remember it being mentioned anywhere on these forums.

Admittedly I shouldn't have included SQL because that isn't general purpose either, but whatever. One can't do everything 100% right the first time, right? :)
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Re: The Great Programming Language Survey, poll #1: use

Postby PM 2Ring » Sun Sep 29, 2013 8:27 am UTC

Jplus wrote:
ahammel wrote:"Other", for me, was bash/sh, which I'm a bit surprised wasn't an option.

PM 2Ring wrote:I was also surprised by that, and the omission of awk, although I don't use awk much these days since learning Python. For that matter, I don't write bash scripts as much these days, either.

I omitted bash mostly just because I forgot about it. But if I didn't I still wouldn't include it because it isn't a general purpose language and including it would require me to at least also include Powershell. Note that I had to restrict myself to 25 options because the forum software doesn't allow larger polls. I'd say awk isn't really general purpose either and I didn't remember it being mentioned anywhere on these forums.

Admittedly I shouldn't have included SQL because that isn't general purpose either, but whatever. One can't do everything 100% right the first time, right? :)

Fair enough. Maybe you could've had a "Shell scripting language, Please specify" option. I assume most programmers have some familiarity with a shell scripting language for their platform, but as you say, they're not exactly general-purpose programing languages. OTOH, if your platform provides a bunch of powerful standard commands and a good scripting language, scripting can be relatively fast to implement & effective.

Similarly, awk is not a general-purpose programing language: it's aimed at processing text files, but it is quite powerful and it can be a useful alternative to bash, since it can pipe data in & out of external commands. I've even used it to process image data in ASCII-format NetPBM files.

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Re: The Great Programming Language Survey, poll #1: use

Postby Johz » Mon Sep 30, 2013 11:07 pm UTC

Python (because most of the things I do are very quick and very simple), Javascript (because writing a web app is so much easier than writing a desktop app, and sometimes a CLI isn't enough), and my other was Elixir, which I'm using a lot at the moment because I'm just learning it.

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Re: The Great Programming Language Survey, poll #1: use

Postby FLHerne » Tue Oct 01, 2013 9:54 pm UTC

Note that I couldn't include the following languages because...Basic, Forth and Go are common words.

I suspect Scheme (which you did include) suffers from the same issue - it's a reasonably-common word (at least as much so as 'Forth'), and appears much higher in your list than I'd expect from its popularity and usage. :?

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Re: The Great Programming Language Survey, poll #1: use

Postby Username4242 » Wed Oct 02, 2013 4:20 am UTC

R!

I'm an ecologist / wildlife biologist, and primarily use coding for making graphs, performing statistical analyses, etc. R seems to be pretty much standard in my field.

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Re: The Great Programming Language Survey, poll #1: use

Postby Jplus » Wed Oct 02, 2013 9:08 am UTC

Spoiler:
FLHerne wrote:I suspect Scheme (which you did include) suffers from the same issue - it's a reasonably-common word (at least as much so as 'Forth'), and appears much higher in your list than I'd expect from its popularity and usage. :?

I don't think so. "Forth" has "back and forth" "and so forth" "suchforth", "fourth", and so on and so forth. "Scheme" on the other hand is pretty archaic, and in conjunction with "analytical engines" it appears to yield only programming language hits. I suggest you try it for yourself.

By the way, please spoiler any discussion about the survey setup.


Username4242 wrote:wildlife biologist

Cool!
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Re: The Great Programming Language Survey, poll #1: use

Postby Diadem » Fri Oct 04, 2013 11:37 am UTC

It would be very interesting to separate this thread into a "use privately" and a "use professionally" poll. I would venture that Python would score a lot lower on professional use, while c++ would score lower on private use. But I have no idea how much, or how the other languages do.
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Re: The Great Programming Language Survey, poll #1: use

Postby Jplus » Thu Oct 10, 2013 11:09 am UTC

Diadem wrote:It would be very interesting to separate this thread into a "use privately" and a "use professionally" poll. I would venture that Python would score a lot lower on professional use, while c++ would score lower on private use. But I have no idea how much, or how the other languages do.

I agree that would be interesting. In fact, nothing stops you from trying it! I suspect a large majority of the voters doesn't program for a living, though.

Anyway, I think by now we have enough data to draw some preliminary conclusions. Note that I based this analysis on the results from Monday 10. October 22.00 UTC, so I missed the last 5 votes that were cast in both polls in the time until this post (this shouldn't affect my analysis much). The polls will remain open for a while. The data I used are attached. Please spoiler your discussion if you react to the analysis below.

Spoiler:
First of all, there is a difference between what languages are used most and what languages are liked most. This is probably unsurprising. What is perhaps more interesting is that both also differ from what languages are discussed most as measured by the number of Google hits I measured at the start of this thread. Some languages are both used less and liked less than one may expect based on how much they are discussed. This seems to be especially true of Java, assembly and Scheme -- although the latter is probably at least partly due to inflated search hits as previously pointed out by FLHerne. The reverse also occurs, i.e. languages that are both used more and liked more than would be expected from how much they are discussed: in particular Haskell, Python, C++ and C#.

In order to come to these conclusions, I used generalized additive models (GAMs) from the mgcv package in R. I fitted smoothed models for each pair of metrics:
  1. like ~ s(use)
  2. use ~ s(hits) - 1
  3. like ~ s(hits) - 1
the intercept was taken out in the latter two models to force a monotonically increasing curve. Scatterplots of the languages with more than 200 hits as well as curves with confidence intervals for the fitted models are in the attachment.

The residuals for the first model. Languages far at the top are liked less than would be expected from the use rate, languages far at the bottom are liked more than would be expected from the use rate. Note that these are only quantitative observations; I have not tested for significance.

Code: Select all

   language   residual
        SQL -5.4191949
       Java -4.0995329
        PHP -3.5206656
        C++ -2.6289215
 Javascript -2.6030549
      Basic -2.3204672
          R -1.8420439
     MATLAB -1.8000700
       Perl -1.3643235
     Pascal -1.2809169
    Fortran -0.8000700
          D -0.7623935
     Prolog -0.7623935
        Lua -0.3204672
   assembly -0.2809169
         ML  0.2376065
         C#  1.0384977
Common Lisp  1.1999300
      Scala  1.2376065
     Python  2.5299171
       Ruby  3.1579561
     Scheme  3.7190831
          C  5.0491591
    Haskell 11.6356765

The residuals for the second model. Languages far at the top are used less than would be expected from the discussion rate, languages far at the bottom are used more. Again, not tested for significance.
The result for Scheme would probably be closer to Common Lisp if the number of search hits wasn't inflated.

Code: Select all

   language residuals
     Scheme -5.788082
       Java  1.164092
   assembly  1.295486
     Prolog  5.543010
     MATLAB  5.814968
         ML  5.913859
      Scala  6.094042
     Pascal  6.236041
       Perl  7.154866
Common Lisp  7.225464
    Fortran  7.426528
       Ruby  7.866199
    Haskell  8.580620
        Lua  8.977452
        SQL 10.804734
         C# 10.873463
 Javascript 11.041473
     Python 11.794763
        C++ 13.981022

Residuals for the third model. Languages far at the top are liked less than would be expected from the discussion rate, languages far at the bottom are liked more. Not tested for significance.
The result for Scheme would probably be closer to Common Lisp if the number of search hits wasn't inflated.

Code: Select all

   language residuals
       Java -1.830927
        SQL  2.515914
     Scheme  2.864668
   assembly  3.457268
     MATLAB  3.520386
     Pascal  4.275658
     Prolog  4.453238
       Perl  5.026733
    Fortran  5.385880
         ML  5.667262
 Javascript  6.681332
        Lua  6.703920
      Scala  6.771118
Common Lisp  7.269539
        C++  8.529759
         C#  9.195115
       Ruby  9.543085
     Python 11.546699
    Haskell 18.423352


I think these results rise two questions, mostly sociological:

1. The rankings of most-discussed, most-used and most-liked languages are quite different from the rankings in the monthly TIOBE index. Is this just a random effect of our relatively small sample size, or is something going on? For example, could the difference be explained by xkcd forumites being mostly a bunch of nerds/hobbyists? Or could TIOBE be measuring something that cannot be reduced to discussion, use or like?

2. What is causing xkcd forumites to keep their mouths shut about Haskell and Python and discuss Java and assembly instead? Do we have a propensity to compare languages rather than to discuss them in isolation? Are we more likely to express our frustrations with languages than our good experiences? Could there be hidden parameters with regard to the languages themselves?

Please come up with all your perverse speculations! :)
Attachments
poll-graphs.zip
Rankings, scatterplots and curvature GAMs
(756.08 KiB) Downloaded 72 times
poll_2013100722.xls
Poll results snapshot
(7 KiB) Downloaded 294 times
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Re: The Great Programming Language Survey, poll #1: use

Postby Xenomortis » Thu Oct 10, 2013 11:42 am UTC

Unfortunately, my very crude interpretation is basically meaningless because the numbers attached the results don't have any meaning for me. Won't stop me from having an opinion though!

The spoiler is conjecture based on my opinions and observations, the content of JPlus' previous spoiler (and a very quick interpretation of the results). Things that may appear to be stated as facts shouldn't be taken as such. (It was easier to write this than change what I'd written below to reflect this).

Spoiler:
JPlus wrote:What is causing xkcd forumites to keep their mouths shut about Haskell and Python and discuss Java and assembly instead? Do we have a propensity to compare languages rather than to discuss them in isolation? Are we more likely to express our frustrations with languages than our good experiences? Could there be hidden parameters with regard to the languages themselves?

Whoa there, Python is one of the more discussed languages here; it's certainly one of the most used. We've even recently seen the creation of a "Let's masturbate* over Python" thread! (*removes tongue from cheek*) But it probably isn't discussed *more* than other languages, but the poll suggests it's near universally liked.
Java on the other hand, is used a lot (probably mostly in professional contexts) and its popularity means it'd get discussed a lot. Of course, nobody seems to like it. I expect it's also a common comparison to make against C++. I am a little surprised this isn't reflected in the "use" poll, but this community is a very narrow slice of the programming community in general.

Nobody uses assembly much. Whenever someone tries it, they ask a question and it gets discussed. Also people sometimes drop into assembler when discussing technical things or when something weird happens in C.

Results for things like Haskell are not surprising to me. I see people gushing praise for it** but it's almost never used in professional / "real-world" contexts. Discussions on Haskell are generated from discussions on "I love X" or "Functional vs Imperative".
Similar for Lisp; my observation is that it's a language that CS-types get all excited and aroused over, but isn't actually used much by people. Similar discussion contexts as with Haskell.

SQL is used by anyone who touches a database. Is anyone excited by SQL, or databases in general? Yet people have questions regarding SQL and so it gets brought up.

Like puritans and sex; the internet community hates PHP, yet its everywhere.

I am surprised by C++ (at how much it's liked and used relative to how much it is discussed, the like vs use is more in line with what I expected).

*Having not yet been indoctrinated into the Pythonic cult, I don't understand it.
**As with Python, no opinion myself; not used any functional language
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Re: The Great Programming Language Survey, poll #1: use

Postby Great Justice » Thu Oct 10, 2013 1:59 pm UTC

Spoiler:
There's probably a problem with the fuzzy definition of "use".
Is it based on
- tried it once?
- the amount of hours writing it?
- the loc % in your work?
- how much of the work it does?
- some combination?
I don't have stats for myself, only a "feeling" or guess.

I don't think you can really draw any significant conclusions from either the discussion stats or a simplistic poll (problems with self-reporting aside).

To add to what Xenomortis said, people write things like "I hate J*v*" and it skews popularity searches.

In the poll, each item should have a scale of, let's say, 1 to 5: (for like) "like very much"/"like somewhat"/"neutral"/"dislike somewhat"/"dislike very much"
and (for use) daily/weekly/monthly/learning/tried it once.

I know the board is limited (or might require some addon) so I'd suggest a link to some other site which does facilitate more meaningful reports.
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Re: The Great Programming Language Survey, poll #1: use

Postby Negrebskoh » Fri Oct 11, 2013 9:52 am UTC

Jplus wrote:
Spoiler:
Note that I couldn't include the following languages because of filtering issues:
  • C, D and R are too common as standalone letters.
  • PHP matches every forum page because it's part of the URL.
  • Basic, Forth and Go are common words.

Spoiler:
Perhaps use the 'intitle' search operator? It works for PHP, and standalone letters such as C, D and R as well. Besides, it would return only those cases where a thread is actually about a (problem in a) specific language.

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Re: The Great Programming Language Survey, poll #1: use

Postby Deviltry » Fri Oct 11, 2013 12:44 pm UTC

Well I'm a web developer mainly, so C#, JavaScript and SQL (when nHibernate or EntityFramework fails).

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Re: The Great Programming Language Survey, poll #1: use

Postby shieldforyoureyes » Fri Nov 15, 2013 6:51 pm UTC

Other: Postscript.

Also, by "C" I meant K&R C.

(Splitting problems across two languages, when one use radians for trig functions and the other uses degrees... is annoying.)

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Re: The Great Programming Language Survey, poll #1: use

Postby mousewiz » Mon Nov 18, 2013 3:33 pm UTC

Java is for my hobbies and was somewhat for work, but not any more.
C++ is for some hobbies and was mostly for work, but not any more.
SQL is now for work, which might lead to it creeping into more hobbies.

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Re: The Great Programming Language Survey, poll #1: use

Postby strake » Fri Nov 29, 2013 2:15 pm UTC

Unix shell [MirBSD Korn or Z]: my primary mode of computer interaction.

Mathematica: my math coprocessor.

C or Haskell [it's about even]: my tools of general hackery.

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Re: The Great Programming Language Survey, poll #1: use

Postby ucim » Mon Dec 02, 2013 3:04 am UTC

I'm not sure my vote is all that worthwhile; I use PHP the most because I am building websites, I am familiar with C, BASIC, and (early) Fortran, and of these I prefer C. In picking a language to teach myself that I could use to develop web sites, PHP seemed like the one that most closely resembled C. Perhaps I should have learned something else (Python?) first, but I wanted to get started on useful work right away, and PHP let me do that. That said, I found the learning curve steeper than I had anticipated - there are lots of functions to learn (or write yourself!), and the loose typing (necessitated by the underlying structure of the web) were things I had to work through.

I also put "Other".... in this case PGSQL (which I suppose is a flavor of SQL, but it's not quite the same).

I figure that if I want to switch my web app to something else, I could do that a function or page at a time. The underlying structure of the web application is really more in the database and business rules than in the language.

As for the comparison between like, use, and discuss...
Spoiler:
Discussion is triggered by several different things and I think it's important to distinguish between them. A language that makes programming frustrating is likely to generate lots of "how do I" and "Why doesn't it work" discussion, which a more elegant language would avoid. A language garners users (and commentary) in part based on what it's used for - if web programming is most popular, then scripting languages will (all other things being equal) generate more activity and discussion. A language that with a high learning curve that is rewarded by easy programming is likely to develop a fanbase that fawns over it, while one that does not have such a high learning curve but is equally good will simply be adopted and used.

Liking something is more telling if the one doing the liking is familiar with lots of other languages. This information is missing from the poll.

Using something is dictated in part by others (work, for example), and in part by happenstance (my case).

It seems that this poll could highlight languages that merit some attention (from possible adopters), but I'm not sure if a reasonable ranking can be established from it.
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Re: The Great Programming Language Survey, poll #1: use

Postby Jplus » Mon Dec 02, 2013 1:54 pm UTC

Spoiler:
ucim wrote:Discussion is triggered by several different things and I think it's important to distinguish between them. A language that makes programming frustrating is likely to generate lots of "how do I" and "Why doesn't it work" discussion, which a more elegant language would avoid.
To be honest, I think this is playing a role in Java. But I'm colored!
ucim wrote:A language garners users (and commentary) in part based on what it's used for - if web programming is most popular, then scripting languages will (all other things being equal) generate more activity and discussion.
Do you think a similar effect might be playing a role in our results, and if so, what?
ucim wrote:A language that with a high learning curve that is rewarded by easy programming is likely to develop a fanbase that fawns over it, while one that does not have such a high learning curve but is equally good will simply be adopted and used.
Are there particular languages in the survey that you would contrast in this way?

ucim wrote:Liking something is more telling if the one doing the liking is familiar with lots of other languages. This information is missing from the poll.

Using something is dictated in part by others (work, for example), and in part by happenstance (my case).
Both very true points. As has been mentioned before, the forums don't offer very flexible poll options and a follow-up survey might benefit from using some external poll service.

ucim wrote:It seems that this poll could highlight languages that merit some attention (from possible adopters), but I'm not sure if a reasonable ranking can be established from it.
That wasn't the intent anyway! This is just for general interest.
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ucim
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Re: The Great Programming Language Survey, poll #1: use

Postby ucim » Mon Dec 02, 2013 11:01 pm UTC

Responding to Jplus:
Spoiler:
Jplus wrote:
ucim wrote:A language garners users (and commentary) in part based on what it's used for - if web programming is most popular, then scripting languages will (all other things being equal) generate more activity and discussion.
Do you think a similar effect might be playing a role in our results, and if so, what?
I suspect that web applications (i.e. program/DB driven web sites) is a big use of programming. I would therefore expect more people to be familiar with and respond with web programming languages like PHP and Python, both with "use", "like", and "dislike". (Wait - that's three...) So for example seeing that Python is liked a lot could mean it's a better language, or that lots of people do web scripting, and Python does this. Ditto PHP. But we can't tell (just from "like") whether Python is more likable than C, or even PHP for that matter.

Jplus wrote:
ucim wrote:A language that with a high learning curve that is rewarded by easy programming is likely to develop a fanbase that fawns over it, while one that does not have such a high learning curve but is equally good will simply be adopted and used.
Are there particular languages in the survey that you would contrast in this way?
Python, Perl, and PHP come to mind. Different people may have different learning curves because they are already familiar with different languages (i.e. me and C, which led me to choose PHP over Ruby, Python, or any of the other scripting languages.)

Jplus wrote:
ucim wrote:It seems that this poll could highlight languages that merit some attention (from possible adopters), but I'm not sure if a reasonable ranking can be established from it.
That wasn't the intent anyway! This is just for general interest.
Agreed. But it has piqued my interest. Python seems to have quite the fan base here. Let's see how many people dislike it in the other poll.
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Re: The Great Programming Language Survey, poll #1: use

Postby levicc00123 » Sat Feb 01, 2014 11:52 pm UTC

There should be a Lisp: Clojure option.
http://www.clojure.org
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