Software developers are keeping an open mind about blockchain

Stack Overflow survey of close to 90,000 developers finds positive attitude toward blockchain, cautious embrace of containers, and a deep love of open source.
Written by Joe McKendrick, Contributing Writer on

There's been considerable skepticism about how much can be accomplished with blockchain, and a feeling that it may have been a passing fad. However, software developers, as a professional group, are optimistic about blockchain technologies. A majority, 55%, say there are potential applications for blockchain beyond its cryptocurrency roots. 

Photo: Joe McKendrick

That's the word from the latest Stack Overflow survey, covering 88,883 developers across the globe -- one of the largest, if not the largest developer sample on the planet. When asked what they primarily believe about blockchain technology, 29% agreed that blockchain could be "useful across many domains and could change many aspects of our lives."  Another 26% saw it as "useful for immutable record keeping outside of currency." Only 17% saw it as a passing fad, and 16% say it is "an irresponsible use of resources."  

However, the survey's authors caution, "this optimism is largely concentrated among young, less experienced developers. The more experienced a respondent is, the more likely they are to say blockchain technology is an irresponsible use of resources."

There isn't a great deal of blockchain activity taking place, either. Only 13% state they are working with the technology on current projects. 

Container technology is more popular, but also isn't seeing widespread adoption, the Open Stack survey shows. A total of 38% are using containers in their development work, and 26% have containers in production mode. Forty-six percent still don't use containers at all. 

Software developers do love open source, the survey finds. Ninety percent say open source software is just as good or better than commercially available software packages. At least 42% say open source is, on average, of higher quality than proprietary or closed-source software.

Here are some more tidbits reflecting today's developer mindset:

Top 3 platforms in use:

  • Linux   53%
  • Windows   51%
  • Docker   32%

Top 3 most loved platforms:

  • Linux    83%
  • Docker   78%
  • Kubernetes   77%

Top 3 most loved databases:

  • Redis   71%
  • PostgreSQL   70%
  • Elasticsearch   64%

Top 3 most loved languages:

  • Rust   84%
  • Python   73% 
  • TypeScript   73%

The survey also examined overall developer productivity. If you ask developers what interferes the most with their productivity, a "distracting work environment" and meetings are the two things that hold things up the most. (Actually, distractions and meetings could be one in the same, right?) The survey finds that 42% if developers find distracting work environments to be the most annoying, followed by 37% citing meetings. Another 37% say their workdays get bogged down my non-development work. 

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