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What you need to remember from Stack Overflow’s 2019 Developer Survey

Written by Anke De Bleecker on 23 April 2019 for Tech Professionals

For nine years, Stack Overflow has fielded an annual global survey asking tens of thousands developers about their opinions on a wide variety of topics, from which programming language they prefer to how optimistic they are about the future. Following the recent publication of the Developer survey results 2019 we picked out some of the highlights.

This year, almost 90,000 developers took Stack Overflow’s 20-minute survey, making it by far the world’s largest survey of people who code. Stack Overflow has worked hard to make the survey as open, welcoming and inclusive as possible and helpfully summarized their results by country and gender while using survey weighting to correct for demographic skew where appropriate.

Stack Overflow’s 2019 Developer Survey – The Highlights

New topics for 2019

This year, Stack Overflow introduced a range of new topics including salaries, musical preferences, working hours and technologies in the web frameworks category.

Top 5 Takeaways

Before we take a deep dive into the data, here is our selection of the top five takeaways from this year’s survey:

  • Stack Overflow saves developers 30 to 90 minutes per week on average.
  • Site reliability engineers and DevOps specialists were among the highest paid respondents, with the highest levels of job satisfaction.
  • Rust is the most loved programming language, ahead of Python and Java.
  • Chinese developers were the most optimistic while French and German respondents had the lowest levels of optimism.
  • 50 percent of respondents had written their first line of code before the age of sixteen.

The Developer Profile

Here at Exellys, we were itching to see what insights Stack Overflow’s Developer Profile results would offer, especially in terms of developer roles, experience, and education. Here are our top picks in those categories.

Developer Roles

Over 50 percent of respondents identified as full-stack developers and the most common job pairings were combinations of back-end, front-end, and full-stack developers. 65 percent of developers said they contribute to open source projects at least once a year, while Rust, WebAssembly, and Elixir programmers contribute the most.

Interestingly, just 11 percent of U.S. survey respondents were female, yet data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that women account for 20 percent of the software developer workforce. To compensate for this, Stack Overflow applied weightings to the survey results. They found that women were well represented in design roles but underrepresented in DevOps.

Experience

Unsurprisingly, Stack Overflow’s survey found that senior executives/VPs and engineering managers have the most experience (14.5 years and 12.8 years respectively) along with SREs and developers who build for embedded devices. However, Clojure, F# and VBA developers have the most coding experience on average.

The data showed that 45 percent of professional developers learned to code within the last ten years, while 40 percent of all respondent had been coding professionally for under five years. An impressive 80 percent of coders said they code as a hobby, and over half said they had written their first line of code before turning sixteen, although experience varies widely between countries.

Education

Roughly 75 percent of professional developer respondents said they hold a bachelor’s degree or higher and about 25 percent of all respondents are currently enrolled in a formal college or university program either full-time or part-time. Among university graduates, 60 percent majored in either computer science, software engineering, or computer engineering.

Stack Overflow’s survey confirmed that developers are lifelong learners: 90 percent said they had taught themselves a new tool, framework or language outside of formal education over the past 12 months. 60 percent said they have taken an online course, while 25 percent reported that they had

Technology

Stack Overflow’s Developer survey took a look at the tools of the trade to see what’s in trend and what’s fallen out of favor over the past 12 months. Here’s our rundown:

Most popular technologies

The survey results show that Linux is the most commonly worked on platform, followed by Windows and Docker. JavaScript retained its crown as the most commonly used programming language for the seventh year in a row, while Rust kept its coveted spot as the most-loved programming language for the fourth year in a row. Interestingly, Python emerged as the fastest-growing programming language, edging out Java in overall rankings.

When it came to asking about web frameworks, Stack Overflow found that jQuery is the most widely used option, with React.js and Angular in second and third place respectively. Overall, Node.js is the most commonly used technology with more developers stating a preference for .NET over .NET Core, and TensorFlow over Torch/PyTorch. Stack Overflow’s survey found that MySQL is the most commonly used database, holding its rank from last year and closely followed by PostgreSQL and Microsoft SQL Server.

Most loved vs Most dreaded

Each year, Stack Overflow seeks to find out which languages, frameworks or technologies developers want to learn, and which they would rather do without. These results inform the ‘Most loved’ and ‘Most deaded’ categories respectively. Here’s what we found:

 

Language

Rust is the most loved language, while Objective-C and VBA languish at the bottom of the poll.

Web Frameworks

Vue.js and React.js came in joint-first, while jQuery and Drupal are the least loved.

Frameworks, libraries, and tools

NET Core and Torch/PyTorch are officially the most loved, while Chef and Cordova rank as the most dreaded.

Databases

Redis is the most loved database, while Couchbase and Oracle are the most dreaded.

Platforms for development

Linux is the most loved platform for development, while WordPress is the most dreaded platform to develop on.

Container technologies

This year marked the first time that developers were asked about container technologies like Docker. Despite fewer than 50 percent of respondents saying they currently use container technology such as Docker or Open Container Initiative, more developers said they wanted to start developing using Docker and AWS than anything else.

Employment

To round off our selection of highlights, we looked at the Employment category, with a focus on company type, company values and job priorities, and working habits. Here’s our selection of key takeaways from this section.

Company type, experience, and salaries

Stack Overflow’s survey results showed that Clojure, F#, Elixir, and Rust-proficient developers command the highest salaries, reporting median salaries above $70,000 USD. However, there are regional differences, with Scala developers ruling the roost in the U.S. and Closure and Rust developers out earning their peers in India.

One trend this year was more professional developers saying they work for companies doing general software development, IT, and finance/banking than previous years. While the number of years of experience generally coincided with salary levels, respondents who work in nonprofits, government and consulting had twice as many median years of coding experience as those working in web development of SaaS.

Developers who work with data (data scientists and engineers) and those who work in DevOps and site reliability are high earners for their level of experience, while academic researchers and educators are paid less at their experience levels. Intriguingly, half of all respondents said they didn’t think they necessarily need to move to people management to continue to grow their salary.

Frequent job changes seem the norm for software developers as while only 15 percent of respondents reported actively looking for a job, almost three-fourths of developers are interested in hearing about new job opportunities and over half of the respondents on our survey have taken a new job within the past two years.

Company values and job priorities

This year’s survey asked respondents to compare two similar jobs with slightly contrasting characteristics such as:

  • Office environment
  • Company culture
  • Levels of diversity

The results showed that developers from minority groups are more likely to say that diversity is a top concern compared with other developers. They are more like to rank a company’s culture highly when assessing a new job. This showed shifting job priorities and an increasing focus on company values among job candidates.

One revealing stat was that almost 60 percent of developers said they prefer to work in an office, while over 30 percent said they would prefer to work at their own homes. However, just 12 percent of respondents actually work remotely full-time, up slightly from the last time this question was asked two years ago. This shows a difference between peoples’ desired working environments and their current working arrangement. Those who work remotely have around 60 percent more years of coding experience on average than their office-based counterparts.

 

Working habits

This was the first year that Stack Overflow asked respondents how many hours they work each week. 75 percent of respondents work fewer than 45 hours per week, with senior executives, product managers, and engineering managers being more likely to work longer. On the whole, developers in the U.S., India and Eastern Europe log the longest hours.

While three-fourths of developers reported spending less than five hours each week reviewing code, fewer than 20 percent of respondents said their work aligns with a planning schedule. In fact, following such a plan correlates with having fewer years of experience.

Stack Overflow’s survey results showed that meetings and distracting work environments are the top productivity killers. This was the first year that respondents were asked about musical preferences, and the replies ranged enormously from classical music to metal, to music without lyrics or vocals.

Conclusion

If you want to dive into StackOverflow’s survey results yourself, be sure to check back in a few weeks when they’ll release the anonymized survey results under the Open Database License (ODbL). Be sure to get in touch and let us know what you find!