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January 16, 2012

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Another place to look at is GitHub. On Dec 12, R ranked at #29 (I have a record on Google+ https://plus.google.com/u/0/109653178371807724268/posts/Bnt4523ELMm); today it ranks at #28 (https://github.com/languages/R). One step up in a month.

Good point, Xie Yihui. Thank you for that link. I like to follow popularity of programming languages on GitHub too. But I was tracking the enduring presence of FORTRAN, mostly for amusement purposes, now at #37 of approx 73.

Tracking GitHub R usage on a monthly basis is an excellent benchmark for comparison-validation w.r.t. the TIOBE index. The difference in rank, #28 versus #19, does not concern me. The rate of increase in popularity over time will be more significant.

I think Java is number 1, not ojbective C.

I'm not convinced by the argument that R is a domain-specific language and thus not likely to break into the top 10. I'll grant that R is going to be used mainly for data analysis, and hence domain-specific in that sense. But everyone has data.

R is a great substitute for a lot of what is done in Excel (an accounting-specific language).

You're correct, thanks Frank. Objective-C was the fastest riser. I'll update the post.

Pat, good points. I'd love to see R in the top 10 myself, and I agree as more programmers focus on data-centric applications its usage (and rank) will rise further.

The methodology is a little suspect, but the rankings are mostly plausible. Except for Logo. I have no idea how it jumped so many positions.

If R is ever packaged in a way it can compete for the run of the mill spread sheet user it could grab a lot of users. I don't know how much productivity would be lost by users tinkering writing the same tools over and over and trying to make the best graphical presentation rather than a very good one.

I have been trying to bend my mind around R for about 18 months to use for both data and models.
R can do things that most languages are used for as long as one is willing to use Java for human interfaces and C, C++, BASH shell scripts, HTML, system calls and such as needed. R makes those interfaces with other language and systems much easier than most language if it really is a language. I use it almost the same as would a Linux/Unix command line at times.

I can see doing point of sale, accounting and inventory control programs in R using either Java or HTML as human interface.

-Gordon

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