Software development is evolving, and so is what developers are interested in

SlashData's 23rd Developer Nation global survey ran from June to August 2022 and reached more than 26,000 developers from 163 countries.
Written by Owen Hughes, Senior Editor
a young female software developer peering over her desk, computer programming code is displayed on her PC monitor
Image: Maskot / Getty

Software developers are spending less time experimenting with new tools and frameworks and sticking to what what they know – although the blockchain seems to be generating growing interest from coding communities.

SlashData's 23rd State of the Developer Nation report ran from June to August 2022 and reached more than 26,000 developers from 163 countries.

The research aimed to explore key developer trends for Q3 2022 and beyond, including the tools and programming languages used by developers, and the projects they're being used for.

Also: Want to get hired in tech? These programming languages will get you the most interviews

The study found that web developers are settling for a smaller number of frameworks than they may have done in the past, with researchers suggesting that developers are experimenting less and sticking with what they know and what works.

React, for example, is currently the most widely used client-side framework, SlashData found. Adoption of React has remained stable over the past two years. By comparison, the popularity of jQuery is decreasing rapidly.

Interestingly, SlashData's report found that web developers who use frameworks are more likely to be "high performers" in software delivery than those who don't.  

JavaScript remains the largest programming language community, SlashData found. According to its research, there are an estimated 19.6 million developers worldwide using JavaScript every day in everything from web development and mobile apps to backend coding, cloud and game design.

Java, meanwhile, is growing rapidly. In the last two years, the size of the Java community has more than doubled from 8.3 million to 16.5 million, SlashData found. For perspective, the global developer population grew about half as fast over the same period.

Despite this huge growth, Kotlin and Rust are the two fastest-growing language communities, the report found: both programming languages more than doubled in size during the past two years.

Also: Programming languages: Why Meta is moving its Android apps from Java to Kotlin

Python also continued to grow strongly, adding about eight million new developers over the last two years, according to SlashData. It accredited the rise of data science and machine learning as "a clear factor in Python's growing popularity". Approximately 63% of machine-learning developers and data scientists report using Python, whereas less than 15% use R, another programming language often associated with data science.

SlashData's 2022 report also explored how developers are involved in blockchain projects and the platforms they target.

Blockchain technologies have applications in a wide range of industries, the report said, particularly in finance, logistics, and government. As such, SlashData's 2022 survey sought to understand where developers' interests lie, and why.

Of the three blockchain technologies covered in the report, non-fungible tokens (NFTs) were found to be of least interest to developers: 58% showed "no interest" in NFTs, which SlashData said was "likely due to its perception as a novelty".

Cryptocurrencies are the most recognizable of blockchain-based technologies to developers, the report found: 27% of respondents reported they were either learning about, or currently working on, cryptocurrency-based projects.

SlashData's report also looked at blockchain applications outside of cryptocurrencies, on the basis that non-crypto applications have "the widest range of use cases and thus the most potential to shape our world".

Also: The future of money: Where blockchain and cryptocurrency will take us next

The report found that one-quarter (25%) of developers currently work on, or are learning about, blockchain applications other than cryptocurrencies. Developers with six to 10 years of experience in software development are the most likely to be working on blockchain projects, SlashData found.

Overall, only 9% of developers involved in SlashData's survey were involved in blockchain technologies. This could be due to the early stage of the technology. As more learning materials are made available to lower the barriers of entry, developers might be able to get involved in blockchain earlier in their careers, SlashData said.

"Blockchain, much like cloud computing fifteen or so years ago, has the potential to underpin and enable many other technologies and experiences, but as we saw earlier, only 9% of developers are currently working on such projects," the report read.

"Rather than affecting an instant technological transformation, blockchain technologies have the opportunity to become a foundational technology on which our digital experience sits, much like TCP-IP – the building blocks of the internet – and developers will be key players in shaping this particular view of the future."

SlashData also looked into the factors that motivate young people to get into computer programming and what they want from their careers.

Most of the student developers surveyed identified solving problems as their top career aspiration (32%). This was followed by the desire to become an expert in a domain or technology (29%), building innovative products or services (27%), and working on challenging projects (26%). 

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