JavaScript is the one programming language to learn if you can learn only one

The widely used scripting language is named TIOBE’s programming language of 2014 and continues to be a good one to know no matter how you slice it

A hand with the index finger pointing up, indicating Number 1
Credit: flickr/frankieleon

If the rich, as they say, just keep getting richer, it should be no surprise that JavaScript was recently named the Programming Language of 2014 by the folks behind the TIOBE programming language index. The TIOBE index, which ranks languages based on web searches, gave the nod to JavaScript due to its strong growth over the year, jumping by 1.70% to an overall share of 3.3%. JavaScript, which edged out other languages that also showed strong growth during the year such as PL/SQL (up by 1.38%) and Perl (1.33%), starts 2015 ranked #7 overall, up from #9 one year earlier.

The TIOBE editors also noted that JavaScript’s main competitors continue to lag pretty far behind. The closest is Dart, which rose during 2014 to #24, though it still has a long way to go to really challenge JS. Its other main competitors are CoffeeScript, which rose to #158, and TypeScript, which finished the year at #195.

The PYPL index, which ranks programming languages based on Google searches for language tutorials, also has JavaScript ranked #7 this month, the same spot it was in last year. Its share of tutorial searches is at 7.4%, down just slightly from one year earlier. Unlike TIOBE, PYPL had Swift as its language of the year for 2014, due to its strong growth (it’s currently ranked #9 on PYPL, with a 3.1% share); TIOBE also noted Swift’s strong growth in the year that just ended.

By other measures of programming language use and popularity, JavaScript appears even more dominant than it does in the TIOBE and PYPL indexes. RedMonk, which ranks languages twice a year based on their popularity on Stack Overflow and GitHub, had JavaScript tied for #1 with Java in its June 2014 rankings. GitHut, which ranks languages based on the number of active GitHub repositories, has had JavaScript ranked #1 every quarter from Q2 2012 through Q4 2014. During that time,JavaScript projects have consistently made up 15% of active GitHub repos.

Finally, when comparing programming languages based on job demand and average salaries, JavaScript is also at or near the top of the heap. Last week, I wrote that career site Gooroo, in an analysis of 3 million tech job listings in the U.S., Great Britain, and Australia through the first three quarters of 2014, found that JavaScript was the language most mentioned as a desirable job skill. In fact, almost half of all job listings for developers in those countries during that time mentioned JavaScript as a desired skill. In September 2014, JavaScript was listed in 11.9% of all tech job listings in the U.S. and jobs mentioning it averaged a salary of $93,142.

To sum it all up: Knowing how to program in JavaScript is a good skill to have.

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