Developers Ecosystem in 2017: JetBrains survey

Recently JetBrains conducted an extended survey about the developers ecosystem, that is, what languages/frameworks the developers are using, in which companies they work (by size), what is the demographical situation etc. The survey obviously mainly covers the users of JetBrains products, so it is not the whole dev ecosystem, but it is interesting still.

Such surveys usually help to understand which technologies are currently on the rise and which maybe deserve more attention that you gave them. This survey, however, lacks a few things. First, dynamics: it doesn’t have any previous results. How can you see the trends if you don’t have anything to compare with the current figures? Second, I for one would be really interested to see what is the dynamics for the JVM languages has been – it is obvious for example that Kotlin is actively promoted by JetBrains, it was seen in a previous annual report for the 2016. But how does it affect Java? What happens with Clojure and Scala in the meantime? etc.

However, there’s still a lot of info in that report, and there are some key takeaways.

As to programming languages, no surprises here. Java and JavaScript still take the lead, and probably will for quite some time yet. Python, however, is close and the potential adoption rate is actually highest (12% are going to take it up), whereas only 5% of the developers are going to go into Java. This too is no surprise though because of the still increasing popularity of Data Science and Machine Learning, where Python takes the lead.

ml-ds

Image taken from the Google Trends.

One of the interesting black horses there might be the Go language, whose intended adoption rate exceeds its current popularity. So, it might be worth a look if you want to learn something new and interesting. It is even questionable whether it can be considered a black horse at all, what with being developed by a Google team and having quite an impressive list of users.

Clojure looks more like an outsider here, with a 2% current and 2% planned adoption rate. However, from my personal (and admittedly biased) experience, Clojure is a language of geniuses… well, that or really, really smart people. So, if you aspire to be one of them, try to wrap your mind around it. It might be a daunting tasks, but those who turn to that particular dark side are usually people who have the potential to rise high in the world of programming.

OK, let us look in more detail at one more thing that is very important: testing.

Turns out that 55% of the developers write unit tests, yay! However, 16% use them but don’t write them. Which is, to tell the truth, a little confusing. I wonder how it works, exactly. Do they perhaps have their own special people on the team who do the “dirty work”? One has to wonder.

However, what is more alarming is the fact that 29% of the developers do not use or write unit tests. Like, zero unit tests. Whaaaat? Really? You should, people. Please make sure that you do, by next year.  It is an important part of Continuous Integration, as Martin Fowler will explain.

There’s much more information in that JetBrains report and I wouldn’t want to stop on everything, or it would be a really long article. Just go and read the original! However, there’s one more thing that made me a little apprehensive: the demographics. And this time I am not talking about the gender, I am talking about the age.

The majority of developers are still young (under 30), which is a little depressing (for me as a non-junior), but that is also not new. However, we see that 33% of developers are between 30 and 40 years old, and then after 40, the percentage drops to 9%. And that is, I confess, a little scary, especially as I myself am moving to the wrong end of that scale. What happens to those 30-something developers after the big 40, pray? Do they fall off the edge of the earth? Do they make a million dollars (or a few) and happily retire? (Now, that would be a comforting thought… if only I could believe it.) Are they all fired because they can’t fit into the hipster vibe any longer? (Whaaat? You remember the floppy disks? OK thx bye grandpa…) Or do they suddenly all become managers and leads and stop coding?…

The survey doesn’t really give an answer to that question. (Come on, JetBrains, you know you really could do better there.) I suppose I’ll have to find out for myself at some point… but I am warning you, whoever wants me out of there just because I turn that scary age, they are going to have to drag me out of there kicking and screaming.

Because that is the path I chose for myself, once. And I am walking it. As indeed we all are, some slower, some faster, some running, some crawling.

And some are flying.

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About Maryna Cherniavska

I have productively spent 10+ years in IT industry, designing, developing, building and deploying desktop and web applications, designing database structures and otherwise proving that females have a place among software developers. And this is a good place.
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