Silverlight extinguished while Angular wins fans among developers

What did ORM ever do to you that you just don't care anymore?

By Thomas Claburn in San Francisco


Developers are done with Microsoft's Silverlight and Apache Flex, but they've been entranced by Android Studio, the Swift programming language, and Angular, a JavaScript framework.

Coding community site Stack Overflow on Monday plans to publish details about which technologies have seen the greatest surge and the most precipitous decline in interest in the past seven years.

In this case, interest, according to data scientist Julia Silge, is measured by Stack Overflow tags – labels or keywords submitted with questions posted to the community site to associate queries with particular topics.

In a blog post provided to The Register, Silge reviews the tags that since 2010 have shown the highest percentage of year-over-year change in the Stack Overflow community, which gets about 50 million visits each month.

The top tags include Apple's Swift programming language and Angular, a TypeScript-based framework for web applications.

"Both of these technologies grew incredibly fast to have a big impact because they were natural next steps for existing developer communities," said Silge.

Other technologies that saw significant though less dramatic change include: Android Studio, Google's IDE for Android development; the tag angularjs-directive, which refers to Angular's system for extending HTML; TensorFlow, the machine learning library open sourced by Google in 2015; and Apple's iPad, which at least from 2009 through 2011, prompted considerable developer curiosity.

Silge also looked at sustained growth over time. These perennial favorites include, in order of popularity: Angular.js, TypeScript, Xamarin, Meteor, Pandas, ElasticSearch, Unity3D, Machine Learning, Amazon Web Services, and DataFrame.

Among technologies losing developer interest, Backbone.js, a JavaScript framework, and Cocos2D, an open source 2D game engine, have suffered significantly.

In the case of the former, it appears the popularity of other JavaScript frameworks – Angular and React – plus the decision by Backbone's author to stop developing the project played a major part in the breaking of Backbone.

Cocos2D appears to have been done in by the arrival of Swift and the SpriteKit API, the popularity of Unity3D, and the emergence of other cross-platform options like Xamarin, among other factors.

Microsoft's deprecated Silverlight framework and Apache Flex, once the province of Adobe before the company became a cloud app landlord, have also seen developer interest dwindle.

Parse, Facebook's brief flirtation with running a platform-as-a-service business, fell off the radar once the mobile ad duopolist realized indie game devs have no money and abandoned the service to open source.

Also among the laggards, ORM, or Object Relational Mapping, no longer attracts the fans it once did. ORM is middleware that translate database entries into objects for use in applications. While ORM is still used, it's not as trendy as it was a few years ago. And even then, there were doubts.

In 2006, Jeff Atwood, one of the co-founders of Stack Overflow, described ORM as "the Vietnam of Computer Science" – in the sense of a military defeat rather than, say, a trendy travel destination. ®

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