Java Still Most Popular Primary Language, Report Finds

The Java programming language continues to be the most popular primary programming language, a new report found, while JavaScript lead the "most used programming language overall" category, and the Go programming language earned "most promising programming language."

Published by software development toolmaker JetBrains, The State of the Developer Ecosystem 2018 assembled the survey responses of more than 6,000 developers from 17 countries.

The list of languages respondents reported using regularly included SQL and its extensions (47 percent), Python (41 percent), PHP (26 percent), C# (22 percent), C++ (18 percent), TypeScript (17 percent), C (16 percent), Kotlin (9 percent), Ruby (8 percent), Swift (8 percent), and Scala (5 percent). 16 percent of respondents reported plans to use Go, and 13 percent said Kotlin was on their to-do list. The report also found that 38 percent of respondents had no plans to adopt any new programming languages.

Prague-based JetBrains is the creator of the popular IntelliJ IDEA software development environment, and the chief commercial supporter of the statically typed Kotlin language, which it unveiled in 2011 at the JVM Language Summit in Santa Clara, Calif., and later released it for distribution under the Apache 2 Open Source License. Kotlin, which targets the JVM, Android, and JavaScript, also compiles to native code.

Nearly all respondents (82 percent) reported using IDEs (such as IntelliJ IDEA and Eclipse), 69 percent reported using lightweight desktop editors, and most reported preferring to customize their working environments. (More than 77 percent reported using "dark themes" in their editor or IDE.) 77 percent of respondents said they used source code collaboration tools, such as GitHub and Bitbucket; 69 percent said they used an issue track, such as Jira and YouTrack. But less than half (44 percent) said they are using continuous integration and delivery (CI/CD) platforms, such as Jenkins.

Just under a third of respondents listed Python among the languages they had just started using in the last 12 months, followed by JavaScript, Java, and Go. And just over half reported hosting the databases, services, and/or applications they develop at their organizations locally, and just under half reported hosting them on private servers. Just under a third used Amazon Web Services, 10 percent use Google Cloud Platform and Microsoft Azure.

And for what it's worth, among the coders who listen to music while they work. 37 percent listen to electronic music, 32 percent listen to pop, 29 percent listen to rock, 28 percent listen to classical, and 17 percent listen to heavy metal.

The survey was conducted earlier this year, applying the same methodology used for last year's survey, said JetBrains marketing analyst Anastasia Chumak, in a blog post. More than 15,000 people participated, but the responses of only 6,000 respondents were included in this report, the company said.

The company was aware of the potential for bias in a survey like this and took steps to reduce that bias, Chumak wrote. Among those steps: report results include only responses coming from advertising channels not explicitly affiliated with JetBrains, including Twitter ads, Google Adwords. and Facebook ads: they applied population weights for post-stratification of Infographic data to correct for the fact that countries with similar sample sizes may have different actual numbers of developers, as well as to present differences in the number of students in different countries; to minimize possible bias against non-English speaking respondents, the survey was conducted in six languages.

About the Author

John K. Waters is the editor in chief of a number of sites, with a focus on high-end development, AI and future tech. He's been writing about cutting-edge technologies and culture of Silicon Valley for more than two decades, and he's written more than a dozen books. He also co-scripted the documentary film Silicon Valley: A 100 Year Renaissance, which aired on PBS.  He can be reached at [email protected].