The 15 most popular computer languages, according to the Facebook for programmers

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Ray_LAC/Flickr

Software developers are in higher demand than ever – even interns at tech companies are drawing ridiculous salaries.

Amid that mad rush for talent, companies are turning to $2 billion startup GitHub, the so-called “Facebook for programmers,” to identify and recruit the very best of the very best.

So if you’re looking to hone your skills and get a top tech job, you could do worse than looking at the hottest programming languages on GitHub.

Without further ado, here are the top programming languages on GitHub, according to data released this week.


No. 15 — TypeScript: This Microsoft-developed offshoot of the mega-popular JavaScript programming language only started in 2012, but programmers like how it’s designed to build large applications for the modern web.

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Flickr/Christian Gonzalez

No. 14 — Swift: Apple’s homegrown programming language for iPhone apps only started in 2014, but it’s already attracting a huge cult following. Lyft recently rewrote its entire iPhone app in Swift, and saw huge boosts in performance.

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Taylor Swift rocks an iPhone circa 2012.
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Getty Images/Mike Coppola

No. 13 — Scala: Companies like Airbnb and Apple have taken to this language, started in 2001, designed to be faster and easier to write than the ubiquitous Java.

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La Scala opera house in Milan.
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Reuters

No. 12 — Objective-C: The original C programming language was so influential that it inspired a lot of similarly named successors, all of which took their inspiration from the original but added features from other languages. It’s still more popular than Apple’s homegrown Swift language, but Swift is gaining fast.

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Getty Images/Justin Sullivan

No. 11 — Shell: This is an odd duck among the others on this list — shell scripting isn’t so much a language, as it is a way to program common or repeated actions in the operating system. Your company’s IT guy might use a shell script to automate the process of updating your programs.

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Flickr / ganeshaisis

No. 10 — Go: Developed internally by Google to help its engineers build systems that got up to huge scales, it’s won acclaim from programmers of all kinds for its rock-solid reliability and stability.

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Google employees form a Google “G.”
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Google

No. 9 — C: The original C, invented in 1972, is still incredibly popular. That’s not just because it works on just about any computing platform ever made, and it’s super stable and understood by programmers everywhere. In 1978, the language’s legendary and still widely read manual, the 800-page “The C Programming Language,” saw print for the first time.

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Flickr

No. 8 — C#: Pronounced “C-sharp,” as in the musical notation. Another variant on the original C programming language, this one comes straight out of Microsoft. It brings some Java-like ideas into how programming should be done.

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A sharp note.
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Shutterstock

No. 7 — CSS: Short for “Cascading Style Sheets,” CSS is a programming language to design the format and layout of a website. A lot of website menus and mobile-app menus are written with CSS, in conjunction with JavaScript and garden-variety HTML.

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Cansei de Ser Sexy performs in 2007.
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Wikimedia Commons

No. 6 — C++: First invented in 1983 as a replacement for the original C programming language, C++ is an incredibly popular choice for developers all over the world. Microsoft Windows, Google Chrome, and the software for fighter jets are all written in C++.

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The C programming language provides the basis for the software that runs on lots of fighter jets.
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REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin

No. 5 — PHP: This language for programming websites is incredibly common; some estimates say it powers one-third of the web. Big sites including WordPress, Facebook, and Yahoo use it. A lot of programmers also hate PHP with a passion — Stack Exchange founder Jeff Atwood once wrote “PHP isn’t so much a language as a random collection of arbitrary stuff, a virtual explosion at the keyword and function factory.”

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An Internet meme explains a lot of programmers’ attitude toward the language.
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Reddit

No. 4 — Ruby: Developers like this 24-year-old language because it’s easy to read and write the code. Also popular is Rails, an add-on framework for Ruby that makes it really easy to use it to build web apps. The language’s official motto is, “A programmer’s best friend.”

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Rubies under a green laser light.
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©V&A images

No. 3 — Python: This language traces back to 1989. Like Ruby, Python is loved by its fans for its highly readable code. Many programmers suggest it’s the easiest language to get started with, right alongside Ruby.

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Herme Herisyam/Malaysia’s Civil Defence Force

No. 2 — Java: Originally invented in 1991 as a programming language for smart televisions, Oracle’s Java is now the most popular language in the world, a position solidified by the fact that Java is crucial to Android app development and lots of business software.

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Christopher Jue/Getty Images

No. 1 — JavaScript: This is a super-popular programming language primarily used in web apps. But it doesn’t have much to do with Java besides the name. JavaScript runs a lot of the modern web, but it also catches a lot of flak for slowing browsers down and sometimes exposing users to security vulnerabilities.

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A little JavaScript code.
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Dmitry Baranovskiy via Flickr

And even among these top languages, some are growing faster than others. As GitHub puts it: “Standouts include JavaScript, C#, and Go who have seen almost doubled growth. Swift and TypeScript are up and coming with 3.5x growth.”

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Apple CEO Tim Cook
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REUTERS/Stephen Lam