Favorite Languages Revealed
Written by Janet Swift   
Wednesday, 28 July 2021

According to the JetBrains survey of over thirty thousand developers, JavaScript is still the most popular programming language and, thanks to the survey's extended geographical scope, we can see some interesting local variations. 

This is our third look at The State of Developer Ecosystem 2020, the fifth edition of JetBrains annual survey. As outlined in our first report, a major change for 2021 was that the geographical scope of the survey was extended to cover the entire world with China as the top country with 19% of respondents, followed by the USA (14%) and India (9%).

Our second report commented on the surprise that JetBrains Finds Spreadsheets Still Favorites For Big Data. This time we home in on the survey's key findings to discover what it reveals about the development respondents are engaged in and the programming languages they use.


As last year Websites topped this list and did so even more convincingly since in 2020 the corresponding figure was 54%. 

  Primary programming languages?


Comparing the distribution of primary programming languages this year and last, the ranking of the top languages are identical and JavaScript has exactly the same share of 39%. However Java has decreased from 37% last year to 32% and Python from 31% to 29%. 

Looking back over all five years of the survey it is Python that increased most in terms of use, going from only 32% in 2017 to 55% in 2020 and 52% this year. 



Obviously what programming language you use depends a lot on the type of software being developed and this relationship is captured in this heat map which can be enlarged by clicking in it.


The strongest link is between PHP and Websites (85%), followed unsurprisingly by JavaScript (80%) and TypeScript (76%). It comes as something of a surprise to find that there is a stronger relationship between SQL and websites than SQL and database - but this is of course simply a reflection of the relative popularity of websites and database as the type of software development being undertaken.

Something that struck me was how the popularity of languages varies by geographical region. In China, new in the survey this year, Java is the most popular language (47%)  with JavaScript relegated into 2nd place with 32%, closely followed by Python. In South Korea Java does even better with 53% (the highest rating for any language - JavaScript's best is 52% in Mexico but it also reaches 50% in Argentina, Brazil, and Latin America. In France, while JavaScript is top with 47%, PHP comes second with 43% and in Turkey, where JavaScript is top with only 37%, C# comes second with 34%. In both Russia and Japan JavaScript only musters 28%.  

There are also some interesting findings in response to the question "Do you plan to adopt / migrate to other languages in the next 12 months? If so, to which ones?" . Go was language that had the greatest proportion (61%) of "Not planning to adopt/migrate" but it also had the top hotspot on the heat map with 17% of Go programmers planning to move to Rust. The next hottest move was from JavaScript to Typescript (14%). Kotlin also figured as a to-be-adopted language, particularly among Java developers (13%).



More Information

The State of Developer Ecosystem 2021

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Last Updated ( Wednesday, 15 September 2021 )