Apple’s Swift programming language and the R statistical language are the two candidates for TIOBE’s programming language of the year award, according to the TIOBE index for December.

In the October TIOBE programming community index, Google Dart had cracked the Top 20 languages, and Java and C++ popularity had hit all-time lows. This time around, the languages with the largest upswings in popularity are No. 11 Visual Basic (+1.80%), No. 12 R (+1.38%) and No. 17 Swift (+1.06%).

Elsewhere in the rankings, the top six languages stayed right where they were. C, Java, Objective-C, C++, C# and PHP maintained their order atop the index, while JavaScript jumped up another three spots from 10 to 7. Google’s rival Dart language saw modest growth as well in terms of popularity, but was leapfrogged by a couple languages with a bit more momentum and now sits just outside the Top 20 languages at No. 22. The steepest declines in popularity belonged to Transact-SQL (from 9 to 13), Ruby (13 to 18) and MATLAB (14 to 20).

TIOBE’s index is generated based on the number of software engineers worldwide, the number of programming language courses, and the number of third-party vendors. It also takes into account search engine data when generating language ratings, and it does not factor in how many lines of code have been written in a particular language.

The TIOBE programming language of the year award will be announced in January 2015. The full December index is available here.