How Many Python Programmers Are There?

Giles Thomas makes the case that the Python programming community numbers in the low millions. This seems right to me: that’s a large community, but it’s not quite at the level of the most popular programming languages. That size is supported by this chart, which has impressed me as “feeling right” when it comes to the popularity of various languages.

One point, though, is that Python has made very significant inroads in the scientific community, which I believe is a key influencer and leading indicator: the libraries that scientists build become building blocks for future work. When you look at the history of programming languages, you see that scientists and engineers were clear driving forces behind FORTRAN and although C and C++ were broadly popular, their performance benefits made them extremely popular in labs as well.

I’m not sure that the popularity of Python in labs is going to be captured by metrics that focus on the professional programming community, so if anything, I suspect that the Python community might even be a moderate amount larger than Giles suggests.

One thought on “How Many Python Programmers Are There?

  1. Larry, thanks for that. I’d not seen that chart before, and agree — it definitely feels right.

    Good point about scientists. NumPy and SciPy started out as wrappers around preexisting scientific toolkits, became popular as such, but are now increasing used for finance and trendy “big data” stuff.

    A semi-related point (made by Andy Pierce on this crosspost) is that there are probably also a lot of people who just use Python for a bit of scripting here and there. Not “Python programmers” per se, but certainly occasional Python users. And they might not show up on any of the routes I took towards a number.

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