What Programmers Want, Love Or Dread
Written by Janet Swift   
Thursday, 05 August 2021

The 2021 Stack Overflow Survey Report has been published with a plethora of detail about who developers are, their experience and their preferences. As previously JavaScript is the prevalent language and  Visual Studio Code is the most used IDE.

This report, the 6th we've covered in an annual series, is based on responses from 83,439 software developers from 181 countries around the world, with USA being the top location with almost a fifth of respondents. The overwhelming majority of respondents, 70%, count as professional programmer, while another 8% write code as part of their work. Students preparing to be programmers account for 14% and six percent consider coding as a hobby.


Looking at the technologies used on a day-to-day basis the report states:

JavaScript completes its ninth year in a row as the most commonly used programming language. For most developers, programming is web programming. Python traded places with SQL to become the third most popular language [after HTML/CSS which is in second place].

Stack Overflow does more than collect information on which programming languages respondents use. It also has devised an approach that allows them to characterize them as "Wanted" "Loved" and "Dreaded" based on asking them to select the languages they have worked with in the PAST year and those they want to work with NEXT year. 

  • Loved = Worked with in PAST year AND Want to work with NEXT year

  • Dreaded = Worked with in PAST year BUT DO NOT Want to work with NEXT year

  • Wanted = DID NOT Worked with in PAST year BUT Want to work with NEXT year

The results for Professional Developers in regards to  Programming, scripting and markup languages are summarized in an interactive network graph. 



The length of the colored bar around the circumference is relative to the usage of the language, with JavaScript having the largest segment. Color coding makes it easy to see outgoing and incoming links. Hovering over a link reveals the number of respondents involved. For example the purple u-shaped line  going from JavaScript back to JavaScript  represents 24,555 respondents for whom JavaScript is a "loved" language - i.e they used it in the past year and want to work with it in the coming year. The link from JavaScript to SQL reveals that SQL is a "wanted language" for 15,159 JavaScript developers. Going the other way, a pink arc from SQL to JavaScript shows that an almost identical number of developers working with SQL (15,163) want to work with JavaScript in the next year.

Rust emerged from the survey as the most "loved" language. This was because 87% of those who had worked with in the past want to continue to do so. However Rust was used by only 7% of all respondents and 6% of Professional developers. So although the above graph shows, for example, that 7,714 JavaScript users "wanted" to adopt Rust in future there is no u-shaped line from Rust back to Rust because it would represent fewer than 5000 respondents. Looking at the corresponding graph for All respondents such a line is included with the caption "5,044 who worked with Rust want to work with Rust - rather dwarfed by the 10,367 who worked with JavaScript.

In the case of languages the graphs for All Developers and Professional Developers are pretty similar This is not as clear cut for Collaboration Tools as fewer tools are used by Professionals and a smaller proportion of the professional group use IntelliJ, which seems conunterintitive. 


However the dominance of Visual Studio Code is clearly obvious from both of these network charts.


The Stack Overflow Survey covers a great deal more so this is just my first look.


More Information

Stack Overflow Developer Survey 2021

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Last Updated ( Wednesday, 11 August 2021 )