The Fletch Programming Skills Marketability Index

In a couple of posts Jim McKeeth has pointed out that the Delphi language has been climbing in the TIOBE Index. He has also called the community to action in order to make sure that whenever we referenced Delphi on a post to do so using “Delphi programming”. That way these references can be properly accounted for in such index.

The TIOBE site states that “The TIOBE Programming Community index gives an indication of the popularity of programming languages.” Such index is derived from search engines and their popularity. More on how the TIOBE index is calculated can be found here.

So I started to think. What that index really means to me? Does it mean that Delphi is coming back? Does it mean that Delphi developers are chattier than their colleagues? Does it mean anything at all? Or is just another indicator that can be used to one’s advantage on a discussion or argument?

I figured that what I really want to know is how easy is to find a job that utilizes a specific language skill set. That to me is a relevant measure of popularity. A measure that really matters because more jobs should be available for the more popular languages, right?

So I went on a quest to figure how to derive this index. My plan was simple: I figure I needed to find a couple of sites that collected employment information from other sites and allowed me to use search queries with a combination of keywords and a time limit – say jobs posted in the last 7days or so.

Easier said than done. While I found a handful of sites that filled the first requirement I was only able to find one site that also allowed me to restrict my search to the last 7 days – Unfortunately this site is restricted to the United States. So I ask for your help; does anybody know of a site that is more global than this one? Or better yet, does anybody know of sites such as juju for your region/country? Please let me know.I will, time permitting, continue on my quest to figure better sites to pull out this information and try to do it on a regular basis so I can trend this data.

Anyway, I then proceeded to search jobs that required specific programming language skills. After fiddling with the queries I was able to get result with a relative small quantity of false positives.

Here are the results of my hour of work on a Sunday morning trying to answer my questions about indexes.

But before I do so here is a DISCLAIMER – I do not claim that this index is an exact science and the results should be taken as, maybe, a relative indicator not as an absolute true. Also, because I am still working on this the results may change. You have been warned.

These results do not show a very favorable picture. Still, I will continue to run these queries on a regular basis to be able to come up with trended data for each language.

So without any further ado here are the results: Java came in first with 2889 hits, followed by C# with 1369 hits. Delphi was in the 14th place with 34 hits.

Here is the complete list of the programming languages that I researched and their position:

Position Language Hits
1 Java 2889
2 C# 1369
3 Perl 720
4 PHP 566
5 C++ 549
6 C 497
7 Basic 472
8 Python 247
9 Cobol 243
10 ActionScript 221
11 Ruby 189
12 SAS 187
13 ABAP 95
14 Delphi 34
15 ADA 31
16 Fortran 24
17 Lua 9
18 LISP 9

Please let me know if you have any suggestions, languages or better ideas on how to make a good assessment of the popularity of a language.

10 thoughts on “The Fletch Programming Skills Marketability Index”

  1. One thing to keep in mind when looking at numbers like this is competition for positions. While there may be 2889 positions for Java developers, there are way more people then that looking for them. It is harder to distinguish yourself in that market then it is for say LISP or Fortran.

    Additionally, many jobs are filled through means other than traditional job postings, and so they would never show up an any site listing jobs. Delphi has become a more specialized skill, and so advertising via traditional means is less effective because there are less programmers out there. It makes it harder to find a match between developers and positions, but it also means that when you do find a match it is easier to distinguish yourself as a leader in your field (provided you are).

    Here is a site that only carries Delphi Jobs:

  2. My wife just came by as I was posting this and she said “The mail room is always hiring, but VP positions are harder to find.” Delphi is a more specialized skill while Java is a general programming skill possessed by anyone who took Computer Science recently.

    So I guess the analogy is

    Languages 1 – 9 = McDonald’s burger Flipper
    Languages 10-18 = Highly skilled position

    Sure there are exceptions, there always are.

  3. Jim,
    Perhaps you are right. I don’t know for sure. All I’m trying to do is keep an open mind about it. I don’t mean to disqualify your posts or what the TIOBE index means. On the other hand I do not want to get carried away by that index or any other index. I think we all should keep an open mind about this subject.
    Programming is a skill. Good programmers are, usually, highly skilled. The language is a form of expression. The problem becomes when you use a language that nobody needs.
    Delphi is my language of choice. But it certainly has become harder to find places where I can “speak” Delphi. As a matter of fact most of the offers I get are either to port code from Delphi to C# or to use my skills to create or maintain code in C++ or C. Sadly, this seems to back my “research”.
    I’m still open to suggestions on how to improve this index.


  4. Its good to have many measures, then we can eventually aggregate them all and get an (net) index that is even more accurate. Please keep up the good work so that we can see trends etc. in future.

  5. Coming in at No. 14 seems to be not too bad, but lets just look at those numbers from a different angle.

    At No 14, you would not expect Delphi to be in the top quartile, and sure enough that slot is taken up with Java jobs.

    The top 50percentile? nope, Java and C# own that choice spot.

    The top 75 percentile of programming jobs? no again, everything down to C takes that section of the jobs market.

    In fact you have to sink right down to the very last 2% of the jobs market before you find Delphi with its tiny 0.4% of the jobs market.

    Put that way, I bet Code Gear were laughing all the way to the bank, especially when you consider that some of that 0.4% are employed just to port Delphi into more supported languages.

    Still, when you stop supporting new blood to the language, then what else should you expect.

  6. @John
    Indeed is cool. It shows 194 Delphi jobs vs. 66,234 Java jobs. It is shows more total jobs, but the ratio seems similar.

    I agree, many metrics is good. I’m interested to see how this index evolves.

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