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C++ and Java Resurgence

May 11, 2011

The latest edition of our Global Development survey series is just about to ship – comprised of three different reports: one on North America, one on EMEA and the other focused on APAC development. While the different geographies usually return results that are different, in this case we’ve seen a thread that runs across all three – the seeming resurgence of both Java and C/C++. This is surprising in that the number of users of either language has been declining in recent years to show a steady trend as the use of scripting languages presents the opposite curve. But this Spring we see increased use of C/C++ and Java across regions.

Makes you wonder why this might be so. Think about C++ for instance. This is a serious language that lets developers do things they wouldn’t be able to do in a more managed language. Adding restrictions in a more modern language like C# provides safeguards but also limits flexibility. Are developers just getting tired of being looked after and yearn for the old cowboy days when C++ dominated and the sky was the limit to what they could do? Or maybe it’s something more practical. C++ allows for better performance in most cases – important in games, imaging, and many scientific applications, and these areas are growing. Could that be it?

With Java the resurgence is almost certainly due to the huge growth in smartphones as a target. Java is perfectly suited to Android, Blackberry, Symbian etc. It provides an element of cross-platform capability that’s extremely attractive to developers in the fractured mobile landscape. With mobile devices replacing PCs as the dominant target, Java’s got a great future.

Programming languages come and go based on the needs of developers trying to stay on top of the demands of the market. I think what we’re seeing here is a marketplace that’s evolving into one that favors both of these languages. C/C++ and Java are coming back!

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