The Most Popular Programming Language in 2019? You’re Not Going To Like It…

I threw a curveball on Twitter yesterday.

I’m not at all surprised to see SQL scoring so low, with many folk asking “Why is SQL on this list and not Java?”

It depends, of course, on what we mean by “popular” (and by “programming language”). If we mean “liked by developers”, then I’m frankly surprised SQL scored as high as it did. I’m certainly no fan – always looking for ways to write no SQL at all if I can help it – and I know many devs are none too keen, either.

But if you ask employers, it’s a different story. In the UK, for example, SQL is the most in-demand programming language recruiters ask for. According to, more jobs advertised over the last 6 months mentioned SQL than any other language. (When I searched some of the top job sites in other countries, the trend was the same: more results returned for “SQL” than any other language.)

And this makes sense, when you think about it. While, these days, most jobs don’t specifically ask for a “SQL developer”, many developer jobs do ask for some proficiency in using relational databases and in SQL. It’s a forgotten language, but still very much alive and in current use.

Some question whether SQL’s really a programming language at all – GitHub certainly don’t seem to think so. I guess it depends on the dialect of SQL we’re talking about: Transact-SQL, PostgreSQL, MySQL and PL/SQL have all of the features we’d expect from a programming language – variables, I/O, functions, control flow, etc. And I still see applications where more than half the code is written in stored procedures – though I certainly don’t condone that. But, yes, in those cases I think we have to concede that they are programming languages – every bit as much as Fortran and BASIC.

So, there you have it – the ugy truth. SQL is the most in-demand programming language. It might not be the one most developers want on their CV, but it’s one very many developers need on their CV.