In Open Source, Languages Used for Web Apps Are on the Rise

by Ostatic Staff - Aug. 13, 2009

We've done several posts on how open source skills can arm job seekers with valuable differentiation from the rest of the pack, and lots of support for that concept continues to arrive. From working for commercial open source companies to working on open source-focused divisions at big companies such as Google, skills with tools such as PHP, Hadoop, and open source content management system platforms can be really valuable in today's tough job market.

In this post, Drupal founder Dries Buytaert took note of the very favorable trends in the job market for people with Drupal skills. In Elance’s Online Work Index, which analyzes the hot categories for tech jobs posted on its online marketplace, PHP-related jobs held the number one spot in July (as has been true since February). Now, Black Duck software, which maintains a large knowledgebase of trends in open source usage, is out with some notable statistics about which programming languages are showing momentum in open source projects, and how they're being influenced by growth in web applications.

According to Black Duck's study, which analyzed lines of source code across thousands of open source projects, static programming languages C, C++ and Java are being used less often (-1.8 percentage points of share) in open source projects than dynamic languages JavaScript and PHP (+2.4 percentage points). Also gaining are SQL (up over 1 percentage point) and Ruby (+0.2 percentage point).

Among specific findings:

--  36% of projects with a release in the last 12 months included JavaScript, the most-used and fastest-growing scripting language.  More projects overall have used JavaScript than Java by a margin of 3 percentage points.
--  65% of open source code is C, C++, and Java
--  80% of open source is C, C++, Java, Shell and JavaScript.  JavaScript is the only one of these languages gaining in share - up over 2 percentage points in terms of number of lines of code.
--  C is the only language that has broken the billion lines-of-code barrier.

"Languages associated with web applications such as JavaScript and PHP are showing greater growth when compared with traditional languages used for business logic of applications such as Java, C and C++," says Al Hilwa, Program Director for Application Development Software at IDC.

All of these findings are consistent with results from the Future of Open Source survey, done earlier this year, where respondents overwhelmingly said that web applications and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) represent prime territory for disruptive open source development (see graphic below). I expect that the next several years will bring many more open source web applications, and that skill with languages such as PHP that are showing growth will become more and more valuable.