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Key Takeaways from Stack Overflow’s 2019 Developer Survey

With the publication of the annual Stack Overflow Developer Survey earlier this month, the developer community has gained important insights into how the community gets work done. The survey dug into which tools developers are using the most, the industries they work in, and most intriguing, how they got to the position they are in. Each year the survey’s results present interesting takeaways which provide a glimpse into the mindset of your developers.

This year, the survey polled more than 90,000 developers around the world who weighed in to form a global opinion on the most used and loved programming languages, frameworks, databases. Interestingly, there was also a focus on how active they are in contributing to open source projects.

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Hoping to gain some useful insights on industry trends, we dove into the data. Here are the tidbits that we found to be the most fascinating.

Javascript Reigns as King, Python is on the Rise

Maintaining its spot on top JavaScript was again named the most used programming language by developers. For those not already using it, JavaScript ranked second in the list of languages that developers want to learn the most.

Python is now the fastest growing programming language, taking the number one spot as the language that developers most want to learn. It ranked as the fourth most used language, narrowly surpassing Java. Python also ranked as the second most loved language after Rust. It has become the main language taught in university and coding schools and used frequently in data science and machine learning.

Visual Studio Code: The Most Popular IDE

Developed by our friends at Microsoft, Visual Studio Code was built with many features that make it the top tool for developers. Their main features include support for debugging, embedded Git control, intelligent code completion, code refactoring, and more. It is very customizable which makes it very attractable to the developers’ community. It is free and open source, with a cross-platform version that you can easily download.  

There are differences in tool choices by developer type and role, but Visual Studio Code was a top choice across the board. A whopping 50.7% of all respondents said that they use Visual Studio Code for their development environment. The next closest in the survey was Visual Studio at 31.5%, so still a win for Team Microsoft.

Developers who write code for mobile apps are more likely to choose Android Studio and Xcode. A popular choice for DevOps and SREs is Vim, and data scientists are more likely to work in IPython/Jupyter, PyCharm, and RStudio.

Open Source has Room for Growth

Open source software scored pretty highly this year, with 42.1% reporting that they viewed OSS as being of higher quality on average than proprietary/closed software. The majority ranked OSS and closed/proprietary as being evenly matched, while only a small percentage were willing to come out and say that they still held OSS in lower regard. Unsurprisingly, developers who contribute to open source were more likely to say that open source software is of higher quality.

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Despite many well-known companies contributing to different open source projects, only around 65% of professional developers on Stack Overflow reported that they contribute to open source projects at least once a year. These figures may mean that most developers aren’t regularly contributing to open source projects, with a small group of committed developers helping to propel the community forward.

When it comes to the importance of implementing the practice of code review, developers responded that they review code as part of their work because it is an important part of the software engineering process. However, it does not appear to be a dominant part of most developers’ work week. About three-fourths of developers say they spend five hours or less each week reviewing code

Most Popular Tools and Technologies

In the field of web frameworks, jQuery and React.js are the most frequently used. However, React.js and Vue.js are the most popular. The most widely used database is MySQL, with Linux being at the top of the platforms.

New to this is the topic area is the distributed ledger technology commonly referred to as Blockchain. Despite the hype of the past few years, 80% of respondents said they did not use blockchain technologies in their business. For those who are using Blockchain technologies, the majority (12.7%) were using it for on-currency purposes.

Containers Not Popular with Developers

Over the past few years, containers have gained the attention of the software community for making the transition from one testing environment to another a supposedly easier lift. However, it would seem that developers are a bit more ambivalent about using containers.

When asked how they are using container technology such as Docker or Open Container Initiative, about half of the developers said they are not using any such technology today. Those who are using containers most commonly incorporate them in their development.

Thoughts Moving Forward

Our key takeaways from 2019’s report are that in many of the key areas, top languages and development environments, the most powerful and popular players stayed on top of their game.

Given Python’s meteoric rise through the ranks, it will be interesting to see if they can continue their growth throughout 2019, overtaking more competitors for the 2020 report.

There were also some interesting deflations of industry hype regarding technologies like containers and most importantly Blockchain, showing that while developers are always interested in learning about how new tech can help them work smarter and faster, they are still slow to adopt a different mode of working just because it’s trendy.

I would recommend reading the entire report and staying tuned for next years results. Hopefully, we’ll have some interesting shake-ups and surprises in store.

Meet The Author

Adam Murray

Adam Murray is a content writer at Mend. He began his career in corporate communications and PR, in London and New York, before moving to Tel Aviv. He’s spent the last ten years working with tech companies like Amdocs, Gilat Satellite Systems, Allot Communications, and Sisense. He holds a Ph.D. in English Literature. When he’s not spending time with his wife and son, he’s preoccupied with his beloved football team, Tottenham Hotspur.

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