The Popularity of Perl in 2013

As 2013 ended several articles were published covering the year in Perl:

chromatic published the The Year in Perl 2013 Retrospective, a list of events in the life of the Perl programming language, and the people around it.

Neil Bowers published the The CPAN Report 2013 showing graphs and providing explanation about the activity on CPAN.

The Popularity of Perl

There are many ways to measure the popularity of a programming language. We are going to look at 4 measurements here:

Perl Weekly

The Perl Weekly website itself does not get a lot of visitors. What is interesting there is the number of subscribers. It grew from 4156 on 1 January 2013 to 5103 on 31 December 2013. It's Google+ page was circled by 4,066 people on 1 January 2014. (I don't seem to have the number from the beginning og 2013.)

These numbers are, of course, more indicative to the popularity of the Perl Weekly, than that of Perl.


The Alexa rankings provide a proximate ranking of web sites. It has big and strange fluctuations, but lacking more exact data, it can be a good indicator for the relative popularity of web sites.


site15 Jan 20131 Jan 2014

site15 Jan 20131 Jan 2014


site15 Jan 20131 Jan 2014


site15 Jan 20131 Jan 2014


site15 Jan 20131 Jan 2014

Looking at the data during 2013 for the 4 major dynamic programming languages, this is what we get:

January 2013

    PHP     93   50.8
    Python  42   22.9
    Ruby    38   20.7
    Perl    11    6.0
    TOTAL: 184

December 2013

    PHP     90   49.7
    Python  44   24.3
    Ruby    37   20.4
    Perl    10    5.5
    TOTAL: 181

The first column is a number indicating the number of searches relative to all the searches in the world. As also explaind in an earlier article, it is natural that this is shrinking, even if the language is growing. What interests us more, is the relative weight of these 4 languages among themselves. This is what we see in the second column. The percentage of searches for the specific terms out of all the searches for any of these 4 terms.

While the changes are quite small and can be assigned to measurement errors, it still seems to be important to note that among these 4 languages the relative weight of Python grew, while the other 3 shrunk.

There was also a recent post comparing programming languages using the * tutorial phrase. It declared Python as the language of the year. Perl was not in the top 10 in the chart.

As someone pointed out, due to the increased usage of Node.js, we should probably take JavaScript in account:

In that case the numbers look like this:

January 2013

    PHP         94   37.3
    JavaScript  62   24.6
    Python      43   17.1
    Ruby        42   16.7
    Perl        11    4.3
    TOTAL:     252

December 2013

    PHP         91  37.0
    JavaScript  64  26.0
    Python      44  17.9 
    Ruby        37  15.0
    Perl        10   4.1    
    TOTAL:     246

Google Analytics

The most accurate measurements we have, are the reports created by Google Analytics. A few weeks ago I got access to the data of MetaCPAN as well, so this time I can show both that, and the data of the Perl Maven site.

In the beginning of 2014 I also got access to the Google Analytics of and monthly visitors count in 2013:

monthly visitor count of monthly visitors count in 2013:

monthly visitor count of

Some explanation about the numbers.


MetaCPAN monthly visitors count for 2013:

monthly visitor count of

Perl Maven

Perl Maven monthly visitors count for 2013:

monthly visitor count of

For earlier reports and an explanation of the hole in the graph of the Perl Maven site, check out the article from 1 August 2013, three month after switching domain names.

Annual growth rate

Number of visits in December 2012 and December 2013:

                    December 2012    December 2013      Annual change              n/a           44,195            17,815           84,810      376.1%             82,138          137,474       67.4%         742,564          700,382       -5.7%

  CPAN total              824,702          837,856        1.6%

  CPAN total is enabled Google Analytics only in April 2013.

Data from and

I don't have access to the Google Analytics of the other sites, but I got some data from Ask Bjørn Hansen, one of the owners and admins of (Beginning of February 2014).

The rest of the sites have less than 50k visitors a month.

At a glance then except for traffic has been pretty much flat for 4-5 years. has been growing from ~12k/month to 40k visits a month over the last 4 years, though likely that's related to the redesign a few years ago.

Published on 2014-01-07 by Gabor Szabo

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