Having (mostly) learned how to navigate Python programming in GIS, I've gotten to thinking about where GIS programming is going from here. I know VB used to be the go-to language for ArcGIS, but that has been supplanted by Python. I love Python's utility, ease of use, and support in a variety of spatial and non-spatial programs, but I know these are no guarantee of it sticking around.

I'm curious about which languages I should keep an eye on and consider dabbling in to be ahead of the curve. I've seen a few options out there. For example Geoscript has libraries for Scala and Groovy in addition to js and Python.

What up-and-coming programming languages are trending towards increased use, increasing geospatial functionality, and cross-application scripting?

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    It's an interesting question but as currently phrased it is guaranteed to get awful answers. Please consider how to motivate objective, well-reasoned answers. If that seems impossible, then this question truly does not belong here and ought to be carried out in chat.
    – whuber
    May 22, 2013 at 16:50
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    Looks good now, "trending" is certainly quantifiable. May 22, 2013 at 17:00
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    d3js can better arcpy google.com/trends/…
    – Mapperz
    May 22, 2013 at 17:21
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    More interesting, and perhaps more revealing, than "what is next language?" might be "what drives a language change?", though that's even murkier and harder to get a definitive answer for... :) May 22, 2013 at 17:55
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    I think you could have a safe bet on Python sticking around. The main point is you shouldn't just know one thing.
    – Nathan W
    May 22, 2013 at 21:05

2 Answers 2


Not that it's going to be exactly the next big thing but as now there is a trend to do apps on the cloud javascript is getting a lot of interest as is the de facto standard for browser scripting.

Also there are many pages trying to measure the popularity of programing languages (some examples):

Those are not GIS specific but most of those top programming languages had their GIS libraries.

On the other hand if you check here the popular tag list you can see that after is (that means javascript) and then (so SQL would be interesting also).


As I understand it all depends on your field. Also there isn't a one 'super language' thats its good for everything.

And don't confuse algorithm designing with the linguistic interpretation.

The geospatial extension of python flourish so much because (imo) it the timing and the conditions were right, but as everything eventually will give its way to something newer and better (or with easier syntax -if possible).

So if you want to focus on something, focus on problem solving and functional programming. The rest is about choosing the right tools for the job.

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