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What is the most popular programming language used by open source developers?
The answer depends on how you define popularity.
According to a new study from Black Duck, a software-license code analysis vendor, C represents more than 40 percent of all code written for open source software.
So why is there a big difference in measurement?
"The total number of lines of code is one measure of usage," Vescuso said. "You are absolutely right that this would favor more verbose languages. To balance that, we also ran an analysis in which we counted the number of times that a project used a given language allowing for projects to use multiple languages."
C++ was found in 26 percent of open source projects, and represented 13 percent of all code when counted on a line-by-line basis of releases in the last 12 months.
PHP turned up in 17 percent of open source projects, accounting for 5.2 percent of all code in the past year. PHP's 12 month code tally represents a 0.3 percent gain, according to Black Duck.
"Notice how Java and Perl top this list, meaning that slightly more open source projects use these as the predominant languages," Vescuso said.
Black Duck's data does not provide any visibility into how the use of open source developer language varies from that of proprietary data, but Vescuso has some ideas.
"We only have data on open source and other downloadable code, but everyone we talk to believes that languages like COBOL, C# and Visual Basic are widely used in proprietary applications and underrepresented in the open source world," Vescuso said.