Bad Metrics for Trends in Programming Languages
Was reading a posting about Trends in web development according to Google one section got me me thinking. Their trends show end user behavior as it relates to popularity. However, when I think about language popularity I think in terms of programs written or lines of code produced… The Google trend I think is a misplaced metric.
Specifically, when I’m writing various languages I’ve got these behaviors:
- PHP – I’m frequently found typing the following query “php strpos” or “php call_user_func”. Basically using “php” as a google keyword to get me to man page about the specific php function. It’s fast and easy.
- Perl – My man page behavior is a bit different.. it’s “perldoc -f strpos”, since perl has all of the documentation built into the system with simple command line tools to bring it forth.
- Java – Very little of java is focused on language issues, its all about the libraries. You’re going to be doing a query like HashMap without the Java qualification.
- C++ – Very similar to Java – you know the language, it’s queries like “STL list iterator” or other library or feature specific bits. Sure, once in a while I might use “C++ abstract template” but when you’re in C++ land usually the word “template” and %$(#*(#^ — that’s the current g++ error on your screen — is sufficient to get the right help
That’s it, unless you do an aggregation of all of the sub-search terms I think it’s premature to use Google Trends as a valid qualification of true language trends.