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Another programming language survey - what are you using?

Colin Walls

Colin Walls

Posted Jul 14, 2014

As I have talked about before, I am particularly interested in programming languages, with a strong focus on embedded, of course. So, I always take a look when I see a survey that looks at what developers are using and what the trends are. When I saw that the IEEE were publishing some results, they really had my attention.

However, all was not what it seems …

The IEEE results may be viewed interactively here. If you filter on Embedded [by clicking on the other categories to exclude them], then show Show Extended Ranking, the ranking order is like this:

  1. C
  2. C++
  3. Assembly
  4. Arduino
  5. D
  6. Haskell
  7. VHDL
  8. Verilog
  9. Erlang
  10. Ada
  11. TCL
  12. Ladder Logic
  13. Forth

The top of the list is fine. C/C++ are dominant and assembly matters. Arduino is essentially C/C++ like. Later on there is Ada, Erlang and Forth – I am OK with those. But then there are so many anomalies:

  • I have heard of D and Haskell, but are they really being used in a volume that merits their inclusion here?
  • VHDL and Verilog are hardware definition languages – nothing to do with embedded programming.
  • TCL is a widely used scripting language, but Python and Lua are also widely used options. Also, such scripting languages are less likely to be used for programming embedded systems, but are often applied to configuring development tools.
  • Ladder Logic is used to parametrically program programmable logic controllers [PLCs]. I would not class that as embedded programming.
  • Where is Java? Although you cannot build a complete embedded system in Java, it has a place.
  • Javascript and HTML [5] are likely to be of interest to anyone developing a device with a graphical user interface.
  • Maybe XML should have a look in.

I am sure that there are other omissions that I have not thought of.

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About Colin Walls Follow on Twitter

Colin WallsI have over thirty years experience in the electronics industry, largely dedicated to embedded software. A frequent presenter at conferences and seminars and author of numerous technical articles and two books on embedded software, I am a member of the marketing team of the Mentor Graphics Embedded Systems Division, and am based in the UK. Away from work, I have a wide range of interests including photography and trying to point my two daughters in the right direction in life. Learn more about Colin, including his go-to karaoke song and the best parts of being British: Visit The Colin Walls Blog

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Comments 3

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Thanks a lot for yYou mentioned: "VHDL and Verilog are hardware definition languages – nothing to do with embedded programming". Many experts in this area say so. But I think an FPGA or a CPLD can be used in an embedded system and these are programmed by HDL. So VHDL and Verilog come under embedded programming. Please give your views.

Mala Mitra
11:43 AM Jul 26, 2014

My previous post was sent while I was typing. Please ignore the typos.

Mala Mitra
12:03 PM Jul 26, 2014

I agree that FPGAs introduce a degree of fuzziness and what is software and what is hardware. I took a class in VHDL a while back and was stuck by how different the process was from writing "real" software, despite the similarities in syntax etc.

Colin Walls
11:55 AM Jul 28, 2014

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