The world is changing. Everything old is new again. Those of us in the software world have seen preferences go from coding to GUIs to coding. Lately, there has been a resurgence of folks who love to code.
Well, great news! SAS Visual Data Mining and Machine Learning will let you code in your own comfortable familiar language of Java, Python, Lua or, of course, SAS.
So what are the most popular programming languages these days? They have changed a bit since I took Pascal and Fortran in college.
The TIOBE Programming Community index ratings are based on the number of skilled engineers world-wide, courses and third party vendors. It starts in 2001 and is updated monthly. Search engines such as Google, Bing, Yahoo!, Wikipedia, Amazon, YouTube and Baidu are used to calculate the ratings.
Java wins the TIOBE popularity contest in 2016, followed by C, C++, C#, and Python.
2016 TIOBE ratings show SAS as ranked number 21 on the list of programming languages, just ahead of Scratch.
The website Dataists also has ranked programming languages. In 2010 they used the number of questions in StackOverflow to represent the size of the community and plotted this against the number of projects in Github. Again we see in the top right corner of the graph that the C languages, Java, and Python are highly popular.
A Trip Down Memory Lane
Back in 1972, while Al Green was singing “Let’s Stay Together,” a native New Yorker named Dennis Ritchie was busy at Bell Laboratories (AT&T) developing the C programming language and inventing UNIX with his buddy Ken Thompson. They developed C based on the earlier languages B, BCPL (Basic Combined Programming Language) and CPL. C allowed high level, machine independent programming while still letting you the programmer control the behavior of individual bits of information. Whereas CPL was too large for use in many applications, C was very practical. C's power and flexibility made it quite attractive, and the UNIX operating system (originally written in assembly language), was re-written in C. During the rest of the 1970's, C spread throughout many colleges and universities along with a certain green leafy substance that was not kale. As programming languages tend to do, C began to evolve into a bunch of different versions causing compatibility issues. In 1983, the band The Police released the stalker song “Every Breath You Take,” and ANSI (the American National Standards Institute) established a standard definition of C and—voila—we got ANSI Standard C.
C++ was developed by Bjarne Stroustrup in 1979, also of Bell Laboratories. C++ is a compiled language with imperative, object-oriented and generic features, while also providing facilities for low-level memory manipulation. Enter Python. Python was first implemented at the end of the 1989 by Guido van Rossum (Python’s BDFL—benevolent dictator for life) of the Netherlands. According to legend, Guido was bored during the Christmas holiday, so he entertained himself by creating Python as a successor to the ABC language. I am guessing the weather must have been pretty bleak at that time of year. Am I wrong, or does it seem that new programming languages rarely emerge from a week-long springtime holiday in Florida? Python is designed to be simple, extensible, explicit, and readable, making it a favorite among millennials. As evidence, see image to the left of two millennials posing with a live python and me.
Fast forward to 1994, when Swedish superpop group Ace of Base was taking over the music airwaves, and the Canadian James Gosling was creating the Java programming language. By the early 1990s, Internet protocols like TCP/IP, were fairly well established. James Gosling was working at Sun Microsystems (later acquired by Oracle) and doing his best to look exactly like Bjarne Stroustrup who looks exactly like Ken Thompson; it would be impossible to tell the three of them apart in a police lineup. Java is a class-based, object-oriented programming language. It was designed to run on many platforms without the need for recompiling the code.
Java has 9 million developers these days, and a few of them don’t even have beards, which is sacrilege, if you ask me. "No beard, no belly, no guru." Java derives much of its syntax from C and C++.
Compare Java code to Python:
Five years later, in 1999, Anders Hejlsberg, originally from Denmark, led a team at Microsoft to build a new general-purpose, object-oriented programming language, originally called Cool (C-like Object Oriented Language). It may or may not be true, but there were those who felt that C# was a bit of an imitation of Java. Apparently lacking creativity in cleverly naming their programming languages, Microsoft abandoned the name of "Cool" due to too many trademark issues, and came up with the highly original name of C#. The US music industry in 1999 also lacked originality, and started recycling stars from the 1970s like Cher, with “Believe,” and Santana, with “Smooth.”
Who Are the Programmers and Developers of Today?
The United States has the most software developers (19.2%) followed by China (10.1%) and India (9.8%), according to the IDC (International Data Corporation).
Within the United States, most computer programmers and developers are white males between the ages of 25 and 54 as shown below based on information from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The blue bars are thousands of people in computer/math occupations and green bars are specifically programmers.
Enjoy the Java, Python, and Lua interfaces available on SAS Visual Data Mining and Machine Learning!