What do software developers want? A chance to learn, and a decent corporate culture

Stack Overflow's latest survey of 65,000 software developers tracks attitudes towards DevOps, languages, frameworks, as well as the state of their jobs.
Written by Joe McKendrick, Contributing Writer

What's the ideal job situation for developers? Opportunities to work with the latest technologies within a supportive corporate culture rank on top for developers this year, a new survey finds. In addition, many developers have gotten behind DevOps, even though their organizations may be on the fence about the methodology. 

Photo: Joe McKendrick

These are the findings from Stack Overflow's latest survey of 65,000 software developers from 186 countries around the world, fielded in February 2020. Enterprises are split on their dedication to DevOps. About 44 percent report they have at least one dedicated employee handling DevOps, versus 44 percent who did not. This ambivalence toward DevOps is not seen among developers, however -- they are behind DevOps all the way. When asked about the importance of DevOps to scaling software development, close to 80% believed that DevOps is at least somewhat important, with almost half of the respondents, 48 percent, noting that it is "extremely important." 

Along with DevOps, what else do developers want? The chance to experiment with new technologies tops the list, followed by a supportive company and workplace. 

The following reflects the typical developer's wish list:

  • Languages, frameworks, and other technologies I'd be working with   51%
  • Office environment or company culture   45%
  • Flextime or a flexible schedule   44%
  • Opportunities for professional development  41%
  • Remote work options   33%

Overall, developers tend to be satisfied with their jobs, with almost 65 percent reporting that they are either slightly or very satisfied with their job. On the other end of the spectrum, around 25 percent are slightly to very dissatisfied.

Developers also show a commitment to continuous learning. Three in four, 75 percent, noted that they learn a new technology at least every few months or once a year -- and 37 percent learn something new every few months. "This demonstrates how quickly innovations happen and developers are constantly learning to keep their skills fresh," the StackFlow survey's authors report. 

Ninety-two percent of respondents state they work at least part time; 71 percent report being employed full time. Nine percent report they are independent contractors, freelancers, or self-employed. 

Developers in the survey were asked what languages and frameworks they love, as well as the ones with which they "dread" working. Rust, TypeScript, and Python take the tops spots in this year's survey. The most dreaded languages are VBA, Objective-C and Perl. 

What language skills are drawing the highest salaries? Respondents who use Perl, Scala, and Go tend to have the highest salaries, with a median salary around $75,000. "Interestingly, Perl is amongst the top most dreaded languages, so it's possible that this high salary is to compensate for the dearth of developers who want to use that technology," the survey's authors surmise.  

Most Loved Languages

  • Rust   86%
  • TypeScript  67%
  • Python   67%
  • Kotlin   63%
  • Go   62%
  • Julia  62%
  • Dart   62%

Most Dreaded Languages

  • VBA  80%
  • Objective-C  77%
  • Perl   71%
  • Assembly  71%
  • C   67%
  • PHP  63%
  • Ruby   57%

Most Loved Frameworks, Libraries and Tools 

  • .NET Core   72% 
  • Torch/PyTorch    71% 
  • Flutter  69%
  • Pandas  68%
  • Teraform  68%
  • Keras   67%
  • Node.js   67%
  • TensorFlow  65%
  • Ansible   59%
  • React Native   58%
  • Apache Spark   58%

Most Dreaded Frameworks, Libraries and Tools

  • Chef   72%
  • Cordova  71%
  • Puppet   62%
  • Xamarin  55%
  • Hadoop   54%
  • .NET  53%

Highest-Paid Language Skills (Average Annual Salaries):

  • Perl   $76,000
  • Scala  $76,000
  • Go   $74,000
  • Rust  $74,000
  • Ruby   $71,000
  • Bash/Shell/PowerShell   $65,000
  • Objective-C   $64,000
  • Haskell   $60,000
  • Julia   $59,000
  • Python   $59,000
  • Swift    $58,000
  • C#   $57,000
  • R    $57,000
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