How Is JavaScript Doing?
Written by Ian Elliot   
Wednesday, 13 January 2021

The results of the 2020 State of JavaScript Survey have been released. What do they tell us about developers attitude towards JavaScript and its ever-expanding ecosystem?


Conducted five years in a row by Sacha Greif and RaphaĆ«l Benitte, the annual State of JavaScript Survey is an attempt to identify the latest trends and to gauge overall satisfaction with it. For its initial run in 2016, the survey attracted had 9307 responses and for 2020 the total was 23,765 widely distributed across the globe:


The majority of the respondents had over 5 years experience of JavaScript and if you compare this chart with the that included in my report on the previous edition of this survey in JavaScript Still Worth A Survey you'll notice how the distribution has shifted to the right.


For the second time the report benefits from the contribution of "dataviz expert", Amelia Wattenberger in updating a chart summarizing the changes over time in respondents' opinions of the technologies included in the survey.


The lines now go from 2016 to 2020 (the brighter end where the label is shown). A higher point means that a technology has been used by more people and a point further to the right reflects popularity - more users who have used it would use it again or more people want to learn it. 

TypeScript was the technology with the greatest growth in usage year on year and Graph QL the technology with the highest interest - the one developers are most interested in learning once they are aware of it.

Testing Library, which isn't included in the chart as it was only introduced in 2020 takes the award for highest satisfaction. With a rating of 97% it narrowly beat Jest (96%), another testing framework.

This survey also repeated its analysis introduced in 2019 of the awareness of and usage of JavaScript features:


In this graphic the bigger the circle the more respondents are aware of it and the bigger the proportion that is bright the greater the usage. In the report it interactive so that you can see how many respondents are are aware of a feature (the outer circle) and how many have used it (the inner circle) and the ration between the two. Compared to last year, more features are included and on the whole it is the new features that are least used. For example, Big Int is hardly used - but then having an integer with as many integers as you like isn't something everybody would want. Private Fields however is more mainstream and I can't explain why its adoption is lagging behind that of Optional Chaining and Nullish Coalescing. While WebAssembly isn't new, it is still used by only a tiny proportion of respondents and again WebGL stands out as under-appreciated. Its usage ratio has hardly improved from last year, when I commented:

WebGL graphics isn't for everyone but surely more than just 20% could benefit from using it? 

To know more about this feature see my book on JavaScript Graphics, JavaScript Bitmap Graphics with Canvas.

The survey also continues to gauge overall opinions:


Commenting on the responses to "JavaScript is moving in the right direction" the report states:

While things are generally looking good in JavaScript land, there does seem to be a bit of a come-down from the positivity high-point of 2018.

On the other, more positive, hand fewer people now find building JavaScript apps overly complex - although whether this is because JavaScript is improving or simply that developers are now more experienced is a moot point.

There's plenty more of interest in the report for the JavaScript aficionado. 




More Information

The State of JavaScript 2020 

Related Articles

JavaScript Turns 25

JavaScript Still Worth A Survey

Survey Reveals JavaScript Trends

JavaScript Ecosystem Under Scrutiny

W3C - WebAssembly Version 1.0

JavaScript Bitmap Graphics with Canvas (I/O Press) 

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Last Updated ( Wednesday, 23 February 2022 )