Python extends its lead as the most popular programming language — but why does it have such widespread appeal?

Female software developer sitting at a desk in an office plan office space coding in Python programming language.
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Python looks to be increasing its lead over other programming languages, according to one measure of the popularity of leading coding options.

The Tiobe programming language index has had Python in the number one slot since October 2021, but according to the March version of the rankings the gap between it and other coding languages has widened.

“The gap between Python and the rest has never been that large,” it said.

The Tiobe Index aims to help developers to check whether their programming skills are still up to date, and to help companies make strategic decisions about what programming language should be adopted for new software.

Python made its debut in the early 1990s, but it’s only relatively recently that it has climbed in popularity - it was in eighth place as recently as a decade ago - finding fans in both the web development and data science communities.

In November 2020, Python became the second most popular language on Tiobe’s index. That was the first time in nearly 20 years that C and Java were not the top two languages on the index.

In October 2021, however, Python became the top language on the index, which at the time Tiobe attributed to its “ease of learning, its huge amount of libraries, and its widespread use in all kinds of domains”.

The rest of the top languages in the Tiobe index remain pretty stable, which is unsurprising since it can take developers significant time to learn a new language.

In second place is C, followed by C++, Java, C#, JavaScript, SQL, Go – a new entrant to the top 10 in February this year – and finally Scratch and Visual Basic.

Part of the appeal of Python has been to people who might not consider themselves to be developers, but who still need to write a bit of code now and then to get their jobs done.

According to Stack Overflow’s 2023 developer survey, Python is the third most popular language overall, but drilling down into the data gives a bit more context.

Python is only the fourth most popular language with professional developers, and is the third most popular language for those learning to code.

But it’s the most popular language for ‘other coders’ in the survey – which would include people who do a bit of coding but wouldn’t describe themselves as developers.

The most recent Python Developers Survey from the Python Software Foundation and JetBrains found that data analysis is the most common usage of Python, followed by web development, machine learning, DevOps, systems administration, and writing automation scripts.

About a third of Python users (so called ‘pythonistas’) involved in data analysis and machine learning considered themselves to be data scientists, it found.

Steve Ranger

Steve Ranger is an award-winning reporter and editor who writes about technology and business. Previously he was the editorial director at ZDNET and the editor of