JavaScript Dominates 2017 Stack Overflow Developer Survey

Stack Overflow's new developer survey is out, polling more than 64,000 developers to measure favorite programming languages, education levels, salaries, work habits, demographics, career satisfaction and much more.

Stack Overflow characterized the new study as the "largest developer survey ever conducted." As in many other smaller surveys of this type, JavaScript dominates many of the categories having to do with favorite languages, tools, frameworks and so on.

"For the fifth year in a row, JavaScript was the most commonly used programming language," the report states. Listed by 62.5 percent of respondents, it was followed by SQL (51.2 percent), Java (39.7 percent), C# (34.1 percent) and Python (32 percent).

Stack Overflow also listed the most popular languages by occupation, where JavaScript again dominated, placing No. 1 in Web Developer, Sysadmin/DevOps and Data Scientist/Engineer categories and No. 2 in the Desktop Developer section, where SQL barely edged it out by 0.2 percentage points.

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.

JavaScript was the No. 2 entry in the "most wanted" category (listing percentage of developers who are not developing with the language or technology but have expressed interest in developing with it). It was also at the bottom of the "most dreaded" category (listing the percentage of developers who are developing with the language or technology but have not expressed interest in continuing to do so). However, it didn't fare so well in the "most loved" category, were it placed just out of the top 10. (You can read more about most dreaded, loved and wanted technologies in this companion blog post).

Most Popular Languages Over Time
[Click on image for larger view.] Most Popular Languages over Time (source: Stack Overflow)

Under the top paying technologies section, JavaScript at least made the list for U.S. developers, clocking in with a $90,000 average reported salary (Go and Scala tied for No. 1 at $110,000).

Stack Overflow also measured the degree to which developers felt underpaid (and even overpaid). "Developers who use languages such as JavaScript, Perl, and Python reported feeling underpaid less often than developers who use languages such as Haskell and Matlab," the survey said.

Top Paying Languages in the U.S.
[Click on image for larger view.] Top Paying Languages in the U.S. (source: Stack Overflow)

The strong showing of JavaScript probably isn't much of a surprise to most developers, as it continually ranks highly in other survey and reports. Just this week, for example, the biannual Redmonk language popularity report listed JavaScript as No. 1, as it did several times previously.

And in January it was named the "Application & Data Tool of the Year" for 2016 by StackShare Inc., which runs a developer-only community that tracks software tools.

It also garnered "programming language of the year" honors for 2014 by the TIOBE Index.

Here are some other data tidbits from the large, comprehensive developer survey as highlighted by Stack Overflow:

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Globally, developers who use Clojure in their jobs have the highest average salary at $72,000. In the U.S., developers who use Go as well as developers who use Scala are highest paid with an average salary of $110,000. In the UK, it's TypeScript at $53,763, while in Germany, it's Java at the same. Finally, in France, it's Python at $42,151.
  • 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.
  • 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.

"In a hiring landscape where developers are in constant demand, understanding the talent you want to hire is the single most important thing you can do to attract -- and retain -- the right developers," said Stack Overflow exec Jay Hanlon in a statement. "Thanks to the generosity of the largest community of developers in the world, the developer survey is an invaluable tool for any employer who wants insights into what actually drives and motivates developers throughout their careers."

About the Author

David Ramel is an editor and writer for Converge360.