Stack Overflow Survey 2017

Posted: 7 April 2017
Author: Mark Hurren

Some really interesting reading in this year’s Stack Overflow developer survey; the prevalence of C# roles in the East Anglia region clearly isn’t reflected on a global scale. RUST came out as one of the most loved languages globally, although I am yet to see it on a client’s requirement list. The trends since 2013 make it very clear some of the languages considered on the fringes locally are a force to be reckoned with on the wider playing field. With Python now above PHP in the popularity stakes.

Some of the statistics are less surprising, with males still the dominant group in the space. The push towards web and cloud-based development is clearly playing its part in some of the trends, with JavaScript topping the popularity chart again this year. That’s the 5th year running.

JavaScript-based offerings also fared well in the category of most popular “frameworks, libraries and other technologies”, where Node.js and AngularJS were first and second, with React at No. 4.

Here are some of the top-line comments based on the 64,000 respondents…

  • In the five years Stack Overflow has been collecting the Developer Survey, it has seen languages such as Python and Node.js grow in popularity, while the usage of languages like C# and C has been shrinking.
  • About three-quarters of respondents identify as Web developers, although many also said they are working to build desktop apps and mobile apps.
  • Developers tend to be satisfied with their career, and more so in general than with their current job. Overall, career satisfaction does not vary significantly by industry. However, current job satisfaction is significantly lower for developers working in finance, retail/wholesale, and logistics.
  • Only 13.1 percent of developers are actively looking for a job. But 75.2 percent of developers are interested in hearing about new job opportunities.
  • For the second year in a row, Rust was the most loved programming language. This means that proportionally, more developers wanted to continue working with it than any other language. Swift, last year’s second most popular language, ranked as fourth.
  • Visual Studio was the most popular developer environment tool for web developers, desktop developers, and data scientists — but not for sysadmins/DevOps, who preferred Vim above all else. Notepad++ was popular across the board.
  • Only 13.1 percent of developers are actively looking for a job. But 75.2 percent of developers are interested in hearing about new job opportunities.
  • When asked what they valued most when considering a new job, 53.3 percent of respondents said remote options were a top priority. A majority of developers, 63.9 percent, reported working remotely at least one day a month, and 11.1 percent say they’re full-time remote or almost all the time.
  • A majority of developers said they were underpaid. Developers who work in government and non-profits feel the most underpaid, while those who work in finance feel the most overpaid.

The question for employers has to be should we continue to invest in languages that are showing year-on-year signs of decline in popularity? I appreciate budget, the will of the senior board, market conditions, end-user impact, etc. all play a part in this, but in an ideal world what would be your response?

I was chatting with a CTO over lunch recently who questioned the concept of the rinse and repeat cycle often employed by companies, where an entire platform is migrated to the latest and greatest language only to be repeated again in the short to medium term. His own view on legacy debt was the idea of looking at the existing architecture as an ecosystem.

Coming at the problem from a business perspective, not as a technical conundrum, what does that section of code do? Is there a tool in the open market that a company is already offering that could be used for that section? Do we have to invest in our own team reinventing the wheel or can we simply integrate their code into our ecosystem – with the ultimate aim of building in flexibility and opening up the option of simply replacing elements of code as time passes, while benefiting from other companies own work to keep their section of the ecosystem robust and up to date?

My opinion? As a failed programmer who turned to recruiting developers because he didn’t make the grade! Well, I think he is onto something. I believe with the dawning of Cloud, the wider acceptance of subscription-based and SaaS models, the prospect of large-scale migrations and huge legacy debt that require major overhaul every few years simply doesn’t make sense.

Every cutting-edge technology is tomorrow’s legacy programming language, so why place all your eggs in one basket? Or at the very least, deploy the architecture as an ecosystem that makes tweaks down the line far easier. That said, I realised many years ago there is always more than one solution to a technical problem, so I offer my opinion as a developer wannabe and bow my head to those of you that made the grade.

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