Programming languages rise and fall, but as more and more languages proliferate in software development, the landscape around them becomes increasingly fragmented, according to a report.

RedMonk analyst Donnie Berkholz’s report, “GitHub language trends and the fragmenting landscape,” delved into the ebbs and flows of programming languages by analyzing data from GitHub, the most popular open-source repository for software development. He looked at how the 12 languages on GitHub that have cracked the top 10 in popularity from 2008 to 2013 have grown and changed, measured by the number of new non-forked repositories, issues and users. The findings show which languages have dominated GitHub usage, which show the strongest growth, and how developer language preferences have diversified and fragmented over the past five years.

The dozen languages measured are C, C++, C#, CSS, Java, JavaScript, Objective-C, Perl, PHP, Python, Ruby and Shell.

(Related: JavaScript tops RedMonk programming language rankings)

Of the many insights Berkholz gleaned from the data, the main theme was a fragmentation of the programming language landscape. With the exception of Java and a recent uptick in CSS, all languages showed a long-term downhill trend in new repositories and users.

GitHub language popularity

Berkholz attributed this steady decline in market shares to the plethora of choices for developers as new repos (short for repositories), issues and users of less popular languages have increased as smaller language communities migrate onto GitHub.

“The trend begins a more gradual increase as a wide variety of smaller language communities migrate onto GitHub,” Berkholz wrote. “While new users increase the fastest, that likely reflects a combination of users in less popular languages and ‘lurker’ users with no repositories at all, and therefore no primary language. The programming landscape today continues to fragment, and this GitHub data supports that trend over time as well as an increasing overlap with the mainstream.”

Another one of Berholz’s overarching findings was that over the course of the past half-decade, only five languages on GitHub have been truly dominant.

About Rob Marvin

Rob Marvin has been covering the software development and technology industry as Online & Social Media Editor at SD Times since July 2013. He is a 2013 graduate of the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University with dual degrees in Magazine Journalism and Psychology. Rob enjoys writing about anything and everything, from features, entertainment, news and culture to his current work covering the software development industry.