Programming language trends 2012 review

It was suggested on twitter that I produce a snapshot or total for 2012, so I decided to try and produce a review of the stats in 2012. I hope you like it.

2012 totals

Unsurprisingly the totals over the year showed the general trend we've observed month to month. PHP and Java up on top with over 12k jobs each and very little distance between them. Objective C is next up but below 10k jobs at around 9k in total. As we get to number 4 (SQL) we're already close to 5k which shows just how much Java and PHP are dominating the stats. Android skills came in at number 5 with close to half the number of jobs which had been listed for Objective C.

You can see for yourself how it pans out from there. Ruby, JavaScript and C# are all pretty close to each other at around 3.5k to 4k jobs each. There is then a bit of a drop off to below 2k jobs at the bottom of the table.

Objective C8925
Java (Android)4981
Action Script1821

2012 month by month

The first few months of the year seemed good times to be looking for work, as might be expected with new projects and new plans getting underway perhaps. May was the real peak though, with around 23k jobs listed, followed by a lull over the summer with the next 3 months recording closer to 12k jobs each. Interestingly the lull continues into September and October before things pick up again towards the end of the year. We'll have to wait and see if the same pattern unfolds in 2013.

2012 winners and losers

Looking at how the different languages shook out at the end of the year vs the start of the year shows some interesting trends. These numbers show the difference in what % of the jobs each language accounted for between the start and end of the year.


JavaScript was the big winner over the year with an increase of 1.6%. The low pegging of JavaScript (7 overall in the the annual results) is often a surprise in developer circles, who have perhaps been seeing browser apps eating the desktop for some time are also reading about JavaScript gaining ground on the server. The steady upward trend JavaScript has been seeing for surely the last several years could be set to continue for some time to come.

Ruby also grew it's share by 0.7%, interestingly the exact amount of ground lost by PHP. Android skills and Objective C both grew by 0.6%, showing gradual but still steady growth. I imagine as tablet adoption grows we'll see further importance for these skills in the future.

ActionScript was the unsurprise biggest loser of 2012, dropping 1.6% but was followed closely by Java dropping 1.4%. I'm not sure what to make of the drop in Java's fortunes, other technologies are likely replacing it on the server (outside of the enterprise at least) and perhaps it's own ecosystem is devouring it with people moving to Scala and Groovy and other JVM languages. Any desktop ambitions must surely now be dead as well although I don't know that the desktop ever accounted for a significant part of Java development.

PHP was the next closest loser but dropped only 0.7% vs Java's 1.4%.

Looking to 2013

Looking to next year, if these trends continue it's not a huge stretch to see Java dropping out of the top two, ceding it's position to Objective C. A fairly major statement I would say for just how much software development is targeted at Apple devices. Not exactly hot on it's heels, but cementing a 4th place position going forward could be Android skills. On the other side of things, I think it's safe to say we'll see ActionScript losing and JavaScript gaining further ground. As to how far the JavaScript on the server trend will go I can't say but possibly we'll start seeing that as a growth area at some point in the future.

Unrepresented languages

I'd been hoping all year to see enough Scala or F# jobs to justify mentioning them in the stats but to date they've failed to really standout. Although there is a lot of excitement around both of these I think there is still a long way to go before we see mainstream adoption or in some cases even awareness.

Final words

Thanks to everyone who's came to the site this year, and especially to everyone who's tweeted or mentioned the site on their blog. Getting feedback is always motivating and I'm glad people are finding jobs through the site and finding the monthly stats interesting.



The data for the above is taken from developer jobs found on twitter by Jobs Tractor. If you're a developer looking for work you might want to check out the Jobs Tractor developer jobs board.

If you'd like to keep track of these trends, or see some of the interesting stats within the data set then follow the Jobs Tractor blog where I'll announce new releases of these stats and the other interesting things I find in the data.