20 years evolution of programming languages

In the past two decades, technological advances have reached a lightning pace. Concepts like cloud computing, data alerts and artificial intelligence have now become commonplace. Amid these rapid changes, new programming languages have sprung up like mushrooms. Let's take a look at six interesting trends in the world of programming over the last two decades.

1. Continuously growing languages

Almost every year we see new programming languages emerge, such as C# that Microsoft launched in 2000, specifically for the .NET framework released two years later. Since then, languages like D (2001) and F# (2009) have been introduced, expanding our available 'scale' of languages.

2. Notable growth drivers

When it comes to growth, Dart tops the list with an impressive 532% increase in 2018-2019, according to Github. This language, from Google, enables cross-platform application development. In second place with 235% growth is Mozilla's Rust (2010), known for its ability to prevent memory errors.

3. Steadfast languages

Despite the constant pace of change, certain languages still exist and are still used. For example, Ada, developed in 1979 for military applications, is still in use by NATO. Fortran, created in 1957 for scientific applications, plays a crucial role in things like weather forecasting. Even COBOL, developed in the 1960s, remains active in the US, especially in government departments.

4. Open source revolution

Companies have opted en masse for open-source systems, albeit with limitations. Major development environments such as Java and C# are open-source, albeit with some closed components.

5. Rise of Functional Programming

Functional Programming is increasingly becoming the trend. Languages like LISP (1958), Haskell (1990), and newcomers like Go, Rust, Kotlin, TypeScript and Swift all use structural functional types. This opens the door to purer code, simple iterations via recursion and parallel processing.

6. Data is key

Data plays a crucial role in almost all aspects of programming, software and computing. With the daily collection of exabytes of data, smart software is becoming increasingly essential, and integrating artificial intelligence into programming languages is becoming a prominent development.

The future of programming

Besides the strong focus on AI and machine learning, programming looks set to become increasingly abstract in the next decade. The rise of low-code and no-code suggests that developers will be less concerned with underlying issues and can focus more on user experience and functionality. While this makes programming more accessible, it also creates challenges for those used to deep code crunching.

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