The lasting effects of COVID-19 on how developers work and learn

The COVID-19 pandemic has fundamentally changed the way people work and learn across industries, and developers are no exception to that. Although in the grand scheme of things, our data indicates that many developers have been weathering well the repercussions of an unprecedented crisis, there is much more to tell. 

The findings shared in this post are based on our Developer Economics 20th edition survey, which ran from December 2020 to February 2021 and reached 19,000 developers. Previously we reviewed how developers’ needs were changing due to COVID-19. Now we’ve taken a deep dive into our latest survey data to find which developer groups and regional communities were affected the most by the pandemic and in what ways. 

Before you dive into the data, our new global developer survey is live now. We have updated it with questions relevant for developers in 2021 – check it out and take part for a chance to leave your mark on the upcoming trends and win prizes.

How the COVID-19 pandemic affected the way developers work or study

In our survey, we asked developers to assess the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the way they work or learn. In perhaps the most salient category, 7% of developers said that they had lost their job in the aftermath of the pandemic and 9% had dropped out of their studies. Notwithstanding the severity of becoming unemployed in times of crisis, the IT sector is still seen as one of the least impacted sectors in terms of hiring during the global pandemic, with an almost unwavering demand for professionals in software and hardware segments.

How the COVID-19 pandemic affected the way developers work or study

Which developers were impacted the most?

Arguably, not every developer has been affected by their company’s decision to enforce remote working to the same extent. For example, does a working parent who juggles the daily demands of commutes and childcare embrace the opportunity of working remotely as a means of having a better work-life balance? On the other hand, if asked, how many pre-pandemic graduates would have, at the time of their study, agreed to go fully remote and potentially miss out on exploring the rich social life that a university offers to young people? Let’s take a closer look at some of our distinct developer groups to understand which factors have been having the greatest impact on ways of working and learning. 

When looking at how the pandemic affected developers of different experience levels, we find that the more experienced developers were also more affected in the way they work. For instance, 40% of developers with less than one year of work experience say they were unaffected in their ways of working, compared to 35% of developers with six or more years of experience. While the gap is not particularly large, junior developers appear to have switched to remote working to a lesser extent. This may be, in part, due to younger people and new hires wanting to go to the office, get to know their colleagues, and connect with their peers.

Developers working for large organisations were the most likely to go fully-remote during the pandemic

Next, we evaluated COVID-19’s impact with respect to company size. We find that developers working for larger companies were clearly more affected in their ways of working by the pandemic. While 42% of developers in small companies between two and 50 employees say they were not affected, the number plummets to less than 30% for developers in companies of over 50 employees. Large enterprises with more than 5,000 employees have been battling the repercussions of the pandemic at the frontlines; 51% of developers here went fully remote compared to just 29% of developers in companies with between two and 50 employees.

Developers in small companies were less affected by the pandemic.

Note that, except for small companies, switching to fully-remote working was the most likely outcome in our survey. There are good reasons for this: large business organisations are naturally more risk-averse and commonly need large contiguous office spaces that have to be fully closed for all of their employees to effectively contain the spread of the virus. On the other hand, many small companies had more remote-friendly organisational structures to begin with. In particular, start-ups have been known to promote a remote-first culture due to the apparent benefits of lower seed capital and broader options to recruit and pool talents together.

Twice as many developers in Western Europe compared to East Asia went fully remote.

Switching to remote working has been more common in Western regions.

Perhaps it comes as no surprise when looking at different regions to find a substantial gap between the East and the West. Our data shows that the Western regions, such as Western Europe and the Americas, have more readily facilitated remote working for their employees. For instance, 41% of Western European developers went fully remote, as opposed to only 20% in East Asia. This could be due to a combination of different factors. For example, pundits argue that many Asian countries score low for having the technological infrastructure deemed necessary to adapt to remote working conditions, such as having poor home-office equipment or internet connectivity that is sensitive to traffic surges. Yes, social factors may have partly played a role, as higher average household sizes and smaller apartments in emerging regions pose roadblocks to their own for employees to balance their work and home life.

The pandemic took a heavier toll on young learners.

Lastly, we looked at COVID-19’s impact on learners. 39% of 18- to 24-year olds stated that the way they study has not been affected during the pandemic. On the contrary, among those students aged 25 and over, 50% or more were not affected. Thus, an interesting trend emerges here, that especially younger learners had to adapt by becoming partly or fully remote. Our data offers one possible clue for this; younger learners are more likely enrolled in a formal degree program than older learners, who are more likely to be self-taught and are to be found burning the midnight oil with online courses and boot camps that have traditionally fostered remote ways of studying.


Infographic: Programming languages adoption trends 2021

In our last infographic, JavaScript was the most popular programming language. What has changed in terms of the sizes in the last six months? You can find the answers in this infographic with key findings from our Developer Economics 20th edition survey, which ran between November 2020 and February 2021 and reached 19,000 developers worldwide.

Javascript is the queen of programming languages

JavaScript is the most popular programming language by some distance, with nearly 14M developers using it globally. More importantly, the JavaScript community has been growing in size consistently for the past three years. Between Q4 2017 and Q1 2021, more than 4.5M developers joined the community – the highest growth in absolute terms across all languages. Even in software sectors where JavaScript is not among developers’ top choices, like data science or embedded development, about a fourth of developers use it in their projects.

Python is conquering the world

Since it surpassed Java in popularity at the beginning of 2020, Python has remained the second most widely adopted language behind JavaScript. Python now counts just over 10M users, after adding 1.6M net new developers in the past year alone. That’s a 20% growth rate, the highest across all the large programming language communities of more than 6M users. The rise of data science and machine learning (ML) is a clear factor in Python’s popularity. Close to 70% of ML developers and data scientists report using Python. For perspective, only 17% use R, the other language often associated with data science.

Kotlin’s rise continues

The fastest growing language community in percentage terms is Kotlin. In fact, it’s one of the two communities – the other being Rust – that has grown more than two-fold over the last three years, from 1.1M developers in Q4 2017 to 2.6M in Q1 2021. This is also very

evident from Kotlin’s ranking, where it moved from 11th to eight place during that period – a trend that’s largely attributed to Google’s decision to make Kotlin its preferred language for Android development. Even so, Kotlin still has a long way to go to catch up with the leading language in mobile development, Java; there are currently twice as many mobile developers building applications in Java than in Kotlin.

Swift was recently outranked by Kotlin, after attracting slightly fewer net new developers in the second half of 2020 (100K vs 300K). Even so, Swift is currently the default language for development across all Apple platforms, which has led to a stagnation in the adoption of Objective C. This gradual phase-out of Objective C from the Apple app ecosystem is also matched by a significant drop in its rank, from ninth to 12th place. 

The more niche languages – Go, Ruby, Rust, and Lua – are still much smaller, with up to 2.1M active software developers each. Go and Ruby are important languages in backend development, but Go has grown slightly faster in the past year, both in absolute and percentage terms. Rust has formed a very strong community of developers who care about performance, memory safety, and security. As a result, it grew faster than any other language in the last 12 months, more than doubling in size. Finally, Lua was also among the fastest growing language communities in the last year, mainly attracting AR/VR and IoT developers looking for a scripting alternative to low-level languages such as C and C++.

Sign up to our community to have your say in our next developer survey.

Infographic: Programming languages adoption trends 2021

Infographic: What did developers do during Covid 19 outbreak?

Evers since the Covid-19 outbreak took on global pandemic proportions, a lot has changed about how developers work, communicate, and stay sane, above all. There are certain stereotypes about developers (i.e developers are “loners”, most working remotely, they get most of their entertainment online anyway etc) that make it all too easy to assume that quarantines were easy on developers. Did they feel the impact of lockdowns and social distancing as sharply as other people? We wanted to debunk these stereotypes and ask developers what really affected their lives during these uncertain times.

To understand what’s happening, we ran a small poll in May 2020 asking the members of our community to describe their day-to-day during quarantine. How did the new social distancing rules affect their work, education, entertainment, and lifestyle choices? This mini-survey was intended to be fun and entertaining first and foremost. 138 developers from our community took part. We thank them once again for being good sports and helping us create these light-hearted insights on an otherwise very heavy subject.

The results are summed up in this Covid-19 infographic, which we hope you’ll find amusing.

You may be nodding your head as you scroll down and think “yes, me too!” or you may have a very different experience that you’d like to share. Whatever the case, we invite all developers to take part in our new Developer Economics survey, where we investigate new trends in software development and what the future holds.

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Do you like this infographic? Feel free to share it on social media and don’t forget to tag us as the source!

Community Tips

Infographic: Who is behind open-source software?

In our 18th survey wave, we’ve asked developers whether they contribute to open-source software, and if so, why? In this post, we’ll explore who the contributors to open-source software are, their reasons for contributing, and finally what open-source support they expect from companies.

Open-source contributors tend to be younger than non-contributors.

More than a third (33%) of developers who contribute to open-source software are less than 24 years old as compared to 26% of non-contributors. This is not to say that they are inexperienced programmers; 41% of open-source contributors have 1 to 5 years of experience, 4 percentage points higher than non-contributors.

Contrary to what one might think, open-source contributors are not necessarily professionals. In fact, they are equally likely to be amateurs than non-contributors. You don’t have to be working professionally in the software industry to be involved and contribute to open-source software development.

Open-source software

Open-source contributors are more likely to be involved in multiple development areas than non-contributors. However, open-source contributors are significantly more likely to be involved in emerging sectors such as machine learning/AI and AR/VR, where innovations are mostly driven by open-source tools.

Finally, as you’d expect, developers’ likelihood of contributing to open-source software is also reflected in their activity on the most popular open-source hosting site, Github. The correlation is clear. Two-thirds of developers who don’t contribute (67%) have no personal public repositories on Github, whereas close to half of the contributors (48%) have two or more public repositories. We observe a somewhat similar relationship with Stack Overflow. Non-contributors are significantly more likely to not use the Q&A site at all or visit the site but not have an account. On the other hand, open-source contributors are twice as likely as developers who don’t contribute to have earned at least one badge (30% vs 15%). Working on open-source projects encourages developers to actively engage with their peers on Q&A sites. We’ve seen which developers contribute to open-source software projects. Let’s now dive into the reasons for contributing.

Why contribute to open-source software

Developers are most motivated to contribute to open-source projects to improve coding skills (29%) and a belief in the benefits of open-source (26%). What’s more, 22% of developers contribute to open-source software because it’s fun or to solve an issue with an existing open-source software project such as fixing a bug or creating a new feature.

By contrast, financial compensation is the least important motivation. Only 3% of developers are getting paid for their work on open-source projects. As it turns out, developers are more likely to get involved in open-source projects to build their reputation (14%) or to network (11%) rather than for direct financial gain. Furthermore, developers who get paid to contribute are almost 20 percentage points less likely to think it’s fun than those who contribute for other reasons. They are also significantly less likely to believe in open-source as a source of freedom, as an ideological imperative. 

Typically developers don’t contribute to open-source for a single reason but are motivated by multiple factors. For example, half of the developers who contribute to open-source for improving their coding skills also think it’s fun. 56% of contributors who want to network also feel like it makes them belong somewhere.

What developers expect from companies

In our Q4 2019 Developer Economics survey, we also asked developers what open-source support they expect from companies. Thirty-three percent of developers not contributing to open-source don’t expect anything from companies, as compared to 15% among open-source contributors. That said, two-thirds of non-contributors still think that companies should be involved and provide support to the open-source software movement; they realise how important open-source is and believe that companies should be a part of it.

On the other hand, 44% of open-source contributors expect companies to support and contribute to open-source communities. This increases to 55% for developers who contribute to solve an issue. Many contributors (44%) expect full documentation on how to use open-source software on companies’ products or services. This is especially important to developers who get paid for their work (53%).

Interestingly, open-source developers do not necessarily expect companies to build products and services upon open-source software (39%). This is the least important vendor expectation from developers in terms of support for open-source software.

Open-source software contributors are a diverse group of people. Their motivations to contribute range from learning, having fun, solving issues to building relationships and reputations. In summary, developers have plenty of reasons to contribute to open-source, and they expect companies to support them along the way. 

If you are involved in open-source and want to share your views, visit our latest survey and help shape the trends.


Infographic: Top programming language communities

Which programming languages the developer nation uses the most? Our data reveal which programming language communities are rising faster than others, which are dropping down the rankings, and which are the new additions to the club! Take a look at our infographic containing key findings from our Developer Economics Q4 2019 survey. 

First of all, let’s all hail for our two years in a row queen, ? JavaScript. The JavaScript community counts more than 12 million users worldwide with an increase of 33% over the last two years.

Among the top programming languages, Python and Kotlin have climbed up faster than any other. With a slow and steady rise Python finally managed to edge out Java, counting 8.4 million users and ranking as the second most used language. When it comes to Machine Learning, Python is the first choice of the developer community, chosen from more than 70% of developers involved in ML. Meanwhile, Kotlin has shown significant growth, it nearly doubled in size in the past two years, finding its way into mobile and AR/VR programming.

After almost 10 years of its launch date and a head to head race with Ruby, Go (or Golang) managed to enter the club of the top 10 most used languages, counting 1.4 million users. Another up and coming language making its way mostly through the AR/VR field is Rust exceeding half of million users.

Let’s not forget that developers are dropping languages all the time. The practice of programming is not static. Even though Swift and Objective-C have been used significantly by the Apple community it seems that the developers are slowly abandoning them. On a similar trend, Ruby and Lua seem to have the biggest decrease (30% & 40%).

Check out our infographic which highlights the top trending programming language communities:

programming language communities

The estimates we present here look at active software developers using each programming language, across the globe and across all kinds of programmers.

Looking for a more thorough report on programming language communities? Check out our free State of the Developer Nation Q4 2019 report examining also different topics such as Contribution to Open-Source Software, DevOps Participants and Adoption, Machine Learning, Augmented & Virtual reality and Emerging technologies.

Also, here you can view the latest global average data trends on major development areas.


Infographic: Developers are dreaming of a smarter tomorrow

As most of you know, we recently published our brand new State of the Developer Nation report 14th edition. Findings are based on the insights from our Developer Economics survey which ran in Q4 2017. The survey reached over 21,700 developers in 169 countries, asking them to share their experiences with tools, platforms, developer communities, resources, and emerging tech.

What’s new in the State of the Developer Nation 14th edition?

For the first time, the State of the Developer Nation report presents the estimate for the number of active software developers using JavaScript, Python, Java, C#, PHP, Ruby, Swift and other major programming languages, across the globe and across all kinds of programmers. We revealed that JavaScript is the most popular programming language, used by close to 10M developers, followed by Java (7.3M active developers), C# (6.3M), and C/C++ (5.7M). Python has reached 6.3M active developers and is climbing up the ranks, recently surpassing C# in popularity. The rise of machine learning is a factor in its popularity. 

In this edition, we also reveal which emerging tech will have the most impact in the next 5 years, what lies in the future of serverless platforms, and which is the most promising AR/VR hardware among developers.

Check out our infographic which highlights the key findings from the report and don’t forget to share it!

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Business Community

[Infographic] A story of how the buying centre of purchasing tools and components is now developers.

We recently announced the State of the Developer Nation Q3 2017, our popular semi-annual report based on key insights from the largest, most global developer research program. The State of the Developer Nation Q3 2017 report is based on the 13th edition Developer Economics survey, which looked into the most trending development topics including tools, SDKs, training, distribution channels and development resources. The report sheds light on current developer trends based on responses from over 21,200 developers globally, across multiple research areas including Cloud, Mobile, IoT, Desktop, Web, Augmented & Virtual Reality, and Machine Learning. Check out the infographic we designed to present key findings on this topic from the Q3,2017 Developer Economics survey.

In this edition, we reveal how developers have become key stakeholders in recent years when it comes to making technology decisions in companies. The report uncovers just how far their influence reaches. Our data shows that over 87% of developers with a leadership function no matter how small, as well as two thirds of front-line coders, are somehow involved in purchase decisions. The world of developer tooling has fundamentally shifted: it is no longer the purchasing department that vendors need to woo, but the developer who will use their tools on the floor, and their direct team manager.


infographic developers decision makers

Platforms Tools

[ Infographic ] The State of the Developer Nation Survey – Tools & Technologies featured

The State of the Developer Nation Survey (H2 2016) was by far the largest in participation. The best way to illustrate this is by an infographic, highlighting important facts and figures. Further down you  will be able to find out the total number of respondents and the countries of their origin as well as all the development areas covered and the  number of tools featured per development area.

Clicking  on the Infographic will redirect you to the full list of tools falling under 7 different development areas namely: Desktop, Mobile, Web, IoT, Cloud, AR/VR and Machine Learning. In total there are 21 categories under all development areas which amount to a total of 226 tools.



Business Tips

[Infographic] How to design a growth strategy for your app.

Developers are makers. They solve pains, entertain, enlighten, and enhance productivity. Building an app can be an exhilarating experience and the joys of shipping can linger for… about ten seconds. Then comes the question: “I’ve built an app, now what?” Where do you start with your app growth strategy?

Building strategies for user acquisition and retention are the two major tasks for dev teams after they have built an app. Analytics helps understand exactly what is happening and how to keep building traction. From there, new possibilities can emerge that will help you grow your user community even stronger and help you identify novel ideas that may offer you a winning edge.

Check out our infographic based on our series of articles on User Acquisition , User Retention and Growth Analytics.

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Want more insights on app growth strategy?

Check out our State of the Developer Nation Reports, and make sure you understand Analytics for Growth.

Community Languages News and Resources

[Infographic] The most global developer survey

The new Developer Economics Infographic is out! The most global developer survey so far has reached over 16,500 developers from 145 countries. Have a look at the findings and let us know where you stand in the global ecosystem. Bonus: hear it from our survey prize winners!

Developer Survey: Developer Economics Q2 2016

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Interested in more findings? Check out our more recent reports, here.