JavaScript is the Most Popular Language on GitHub, with Ruby Coming in Second

github-iconOn a whim, I decided to browse through GitHub’s Explore section recently. I don’t know whether users go there often or not (I certainly don’t), but there are some intriguing statistics there that tell a thing or two about what’s popular and who’s using GitHub these days. Some are a little surprising.

JavaScript is the Most Popular Language, with Ruby Coming in Second

I was surprised at first, as I had initially assumed the graph was referring to Node.js. Then I facepalmed when I realized that, obviously, most of that is client-side JavaScript.

Ruby is well ahead of Python, which is way down in the #5 slot, below Java and shell scripts. Considering how many times Redditors have tried to tell me that Python has a larger and more active community, despite my previous observations, I found it amusing. (I’m a fairly recent adopter of the Ruby language, which I chose to invest time in learning—over Python—partially because of its large, thriving community of developers.)

PHP, strangely, is even lower on the list than Python. PHP is definitely used more widely than either Ruby or Python, yet its found in comparatively few repositories on GitHub. There are a few points of speculation I take away from this:

  • There isn’t too much overlap between Git users and PHP users. One could argue that since a large portion of PHP users are beginner developers, they haven’t picked up source control yet.
  • The average PHP developer could be working on closed source projects for one reason or another. Either for work reasons or because they haven’t been bitten by the FOSS bug yet. Or they’re working on a hobby project that’s going to be The Next Big Thing, and they want to keep it closed.
  • There’s a difference between active developers creating unique projects, and end users dropping in a pre-made script to run. Sure, PHP definitely has the widest install base. It’s astronomical. But how many developers out there choose to work with it to create open source projects?

The most popular languages on GitHub