Stack Overflow Publishes Largest Ever Survey
Written by Janet Swift   
Thursday, 15 March 2018

JavaScript remains the most widely used programming language according to Stack Overflow's Annual Developer Survey, which analyzed the responses of over 100,000 developers from 183 countries made in January 2018.


Python has again risen in the ranks of popular programming languages and according to Stack Overflow:

has a solid claim to being the fastest-growing major programming language

Respondents were asked to select all the programming, scripting and markup languages they used. The distribution for 73,248 professional developers is shown here.


The survey then probed into which languages developers wanted to continue using, which the report characterizes as "loved" and opposed to those then expressed no interest in continuing with, which it considers "dreaded". This provides us with some interesting, but possibly misleading findings. For example, Rust is the most loved language with 78% of the developers who use it happy to stick with it. However, if you look for Rust in the list of popular technologies you'll find it isn't there. While this is presumably an oversight on the part of StackOverflow, it does suggest a small proportion of respondents use it. Kotlin which comes in second for "Loved" languages at 75% is used by less than 5% of developers - so around 4% of respondents use it and want to continue to do so. Python is third most loved language (68%) and it is closely followed by TypeScript (67%), Go (66%) and Swift (65%). Even the most popular JavaScript is "loved" by 62% of its users - which is well over 30,000 respondents, or around 30%.

When it comes to "Dreaded" languages top of the list comes Visual Basic 6 which 90% of those who have used it not wanting to use it again. Hardly a surprise since Microsoft effectively killed it off over 5 years ago and has refused many requests to open source it. Lots of programmers have assets tied up in VB6 and not wanting to use reflects sadness at its fate as well as having to keep legacy projects going in a dead language. Frustration over maintaining projects well past their sell-by date presumably accounts for 84% of Cobol users wanting to part company and CoffeeScript's 83% reflects the fast it's a superseded language. None of these top three dreaded languages are in the list of 25 popular languages so I can't estimate actual the number of respondents who expressed dread. On the other hand almost of half of the users of Java don't want to continue using it - more than 16,000 (16%) respondents by my reckoning. So what do they want to use?

StackOverflow's definition of a "most wanted language" is:

the language that developers who do not yet use it most often say they want to learn.

Python comes top of  list with a quarter of those who haven't already used it wanting to do so - so my estimate is over 11,000 (11%) respondents. Javascript comes second (19%), but because such a high proportion already know it this works out to be only some 4,000 (4%). So the number of respondents wanting to learn different languages is as follows, which produces a different ranking: 

No of respondents
1 Python 11170
3 Go 10899
4 Kotlin 8674
5 TypeScript 8631
6 Rust 5897
7 C++ 5633
10 Swift 5188
6 Java 4199
2 JavaScript 4175
9 C# 3808


StackOverflow also provides us with a graph that reveals another set of reasons for "dreading" VB6 and Cobol and for "loving" Rust and wanting" to try Go - poor pay relative to experience for the former two compared to good pay for the latter two.


StackOverflow explains:

Developers using languages that appear above the line in this chart, such as Go, Clojure, and F#, are being paid more even given how much experience they have. Developers using languages below the line, like PHP and Visual Basic 6, however, are paid less even given years of experience. The size of the circles in this chart represents how many developers are using that language compared to the others.

In economic terms moving from Java to Kotlin makes sense and better still try Python. But as StackOverflow has revealed before there are other complicating factors - such as geography - and developers are not necessarily simply following the money. 

There's much more to be learned from this survey and StackOverflow will be making the underlying data available in due course.



More Information

Stack Overflow Developer Survey Results 2018


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Last Updated ( Saturday, 26 January 2019 )