Node.js surpasses Clojure in popularity

February 28, 2011 in Web Development

TL;DR: It is official: Node.js has surpassed Clojure in terms of popularity according to search volume.

Last September I did a short comparison of a few programming languages based on their popularity. The post included a few languages but I was mostly interested in a few of them, namely Haskell, Clojure, Erlang and Node.js. I have been dabbling with Clojure and Node.js in my (sparse) spare time, so I was a bit interested to see how things have progressed lately.

I used Google Trends to find out what search terms have been the most popular. It would have been nice if I could have seen the trends for “<language> tutorial” or “<language> programming” but those terms don’t have enough search volume to show up on Google Trends.

But anyways, here is what the trends look like as of the 28th of February:

Node.js, Clojure & Erlang (No Haskell)

My previous post included Haskell, but it didn’t make much sense since there are so many notable people named Haskell, so the search results were really off base. This time I’ve skipped including Haskell in the Google Trends graph.

The biggest change we see there is that Node.js has surpassed Clojure in terms of popularity, according to search volume. I don’t know for sure whether that translates to more usage, but it is at least an indicator of where things are headed.

(Searches for Erlang have also decreased a little bit, but the reason for that is probably just that Erlang programmers are so hardcore, they don’t need Google.)

Number of search results

Last time I also made a simple comparison of the total number of search results in Google. In those queries I was free to use eg. “Haskell programming” since that would give some results, so that is the result you see below:

I also included the previous numbers from last September.

Search term September, 2010 February, 2011
clojure programming 215,000 795,000
erlang programming 714,000 1,090,000
node.js programming 760,000 4,720,000
haskell programming 1,420,000 2,350,000

The number of search results has gone up a lot, but that probably doesn’t tell us much. It’s probably due to changes in Google’s index, so it’s not a clear indicator of actual changes in the programming language landscape.

But at least we can tell from those results that node.js search results have gone up 6x, while Clojure has gone up 4x.


I don’t really want to turn this into a language flame war or give my theory of why one language is more popular than the other. I will leave that for the comments and another post, but these are interesting statistics none the less.

Update: I don’t know what happened, but when I opened Google Trends again to link the image to the corresponding Google Trends link, the trend graph had changed. So I’ve included the new one here:

erlang clojure node comparison

The change between Node and Clojure is still apparent, but node’s history of searches has decreased quite a bit.

  • Anthony

    Node.js is not a language.
    From Wikipedia: Node.js is an event-driven I/O framework for the V8 JavaScript engine on Unix-like platforms.

    • arnorhs

      @Anthony Yes, that’s right. But I don’t think anybody’s using Javascript on a server without using node – also – referring to it as “Javascript” can cause confusion.

      We can also call this a “stack comparison” or “stack popularity”. It’s a valid point.

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  • Dinesh Karki

    awesome posting

  • angel

    comparing node with clojure is like comparing apples with oranges, clojure is a multifunctional language while node is a framework…but… I like your comparation …clojure was the kid on the block and now is node…I’ve used both and clojure is a practical alternative to java…but comparing with node the learning curve is biggest and maybe for th web node is faster..I’ven’t tryed it…

    I think node is more popular because any language based in lisp always will have a learning curve biggest and no everyone will accept the challenge…but I think than learning lisp will become a better programmer…

    for many people if can develop fast web apps, using a language than they know they will be happy…

    I like a lot node and for me it’s the new web development revolution (like rails was years ago) but I like clojure and with clojure you can writte java code more readable (after learn lisp), it’s functional and especially you writte short code comparing to java…also I think this teach you learn a different way (haskell too)

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