While there’s no definitive worst or best programming language, if you’re looking to learn a language that’s in demand and with an active community, some are better than others.
Codementor has compiled a list of languages struggling to attract developers or interest from employers.
The so-called “Worst Programming Languages to Learn in 2019” list is the latest in the site’s annual round-up, with Codementor stressing the list reflects languages that are a poor choice to learn as a first language.
These sorts of lists are always controversial, and one thing to bear in mind is you may not agree with the methodology used by Codementor, an online community for mentoring developers. The methodology used is explained at the end of the article.
While the worst five languages to learn are listed below, there are some other surprising callouts in the list, with some widely used and often praised languages finding their way into the worst 20.
Big names that took a dive
Despite Kotlin being celebrated for offering Java developers a more modern and enjoyable language to code in, Codementor says it jumped from the 18th to the 11th worst language to learn.
While Kotlin is a fully supported language for Android development, Codementor says there was only middling community engagement for the language and so-so job prospects. Combined with a slip in the language’s prospect for growth, by Codementor’s estimation, this was enough to see the Java Virtual Machine (JVM) targeted language climb the rankings of worst languages.
The statistical analysis language R also had a bad year by Codementor’s reckoning, with the data science-focused language climbing to 12th on the list.
Codementor attributes this poor showing to its lackluster growth last year and falling community engagement.
While R also dropped one place in this year’s RedMonk Programming Rankings, RedMonk analysts cautioned against reading too much into the slip, saying the language continued to serve a “vibrant base of analytical and data science use cases”.
Is there a Ruby renaissance?
Despite Ruby’s fortunes taking a knock of late, the language, once popular among web developers, did enjoy a small turnaround last year, according to Codementor.
The language fell three places to the 17th worst programming language to learn, which Codementor attributes to strong community engagement and job demand, enough to offset its poorer showing in Codementor’s growth and trends category.
The worst programming languages to learn in 2019 according to Codementor
Why Codementor says you shouldn’t learn it: Multiple reasons, chiefly they say it has the fourth worst community engagement, falling growth, and although the job prospects for Elm improved slightly, it was still ranked as the fifth worst language in the job-market category.
What other language surveys say: Not very much, Elm doesn’t figure in this year’s round-up of languages by Stack Overflow or RedMonk.
Why Codementor says you shouldn’t learn it: Codementor is scathing about CoffeeScript’s community engagement, naming it the worst language for engagement last year. It also says the language’s already poor growth took a nosedive over the year, arguing “CoffeeScript’s heyday is further behind it than that of other languages”. While job prospects also worsened, Codementor says there are still jobs seeking CoffeeScript skills.
What other language surveys say: Only mentioned in passing in this year’s RedMonk Programming Language Rankings, with a note that CoffeeScript is less popular than Rust. It also features in the lower echelons of the Tiobe Index of 100 popular languages.
What is it? Erlang was created by the Swedish telecoms firm Ericsson almost three decades ago to help build telephony applications. Designed to support large-scale routing of telephone calls and handle faults without collapsing, it’s suited to building reliable and scalable applications.
Why Codementor says you shouldn’t learn it: Erlang saw the largest decline in community engagement over the course of the year, with interest in the language also dropping, even relative to others in its functional language niche. Ranked the fourth worst language to learn in terms of job demand, Codementor points out that while there are still more Erlang developers than jobs available, that demand for developers isn’t growing as fast as other languages.
What other language surveys say: A big caveat to Codementor’s judgement is the salary for roles associated with Erlang, with Erlang being the ninth highest-paid language and the 22nd “most loved” language according to this year’s Stack Overflow Developer Survey.
However, Erlang also experienced a precipitous drop in The Tiobe Index over the course of last year, falling from number 23 to 50.
What is it? A lightweight, embeddable scripting language that is commonly used in games and offers decent performance relative to other scripting languages.
Why Codementor says you shouldn’t learn it: While community engagement for Lua rose last year, it had flat growth and was ranked second worst for job demand, with Codementor saying “there are still more Lua developers than there is demand for them”.
What other language surveys say: Rated 30th in the Tiobe Index of popular programming languages.
What is it? Popular for web server scripting, sysadmin jobs, network programming and automating various tasks, Perl has been used since the late 1980s.
Why Codementor says you shouldn’t learn it: Worsening community engagement, declining growth, and supply outstripping demand in the job market are the primary reasons given, with Codementor saying “Perl is facing a downward trend in terms of developer interest”.
What other language surveys say: Perl has long been in the top 20 of the Tiobe Index of popular programming languages, and placed at number 14th in this April’s index, while also charting 18th in the RedMonk Programming Language Rankings for this year.
The list of worst programming languages to learn is based on Codementor ranking each language in terms of its community engagement: based on activity on GitHub, Twitter, Stack Overflow, Facebook, Freenode, and Reddit, growth: based on Google Trends and Stack Overflow Trends, and job market: with demand based on stackshare.io, techstacks.io, and CodementorX client requests and supply based on Stack Overflow’s 2018 Developer Survey and results from CodementorX’s proprietary data. Source