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Subtle Insights From The Stack Overflow Survey

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Michael Brown

August 12, 2019

Every year since 2011, Stack Overflow has been putting out a wonderful survey on the state of the developer community. The 2018 edition came out recently and it did not disappoint. Over 100,000 developers responded to the survey and a lot of people have done great write-ups thus far on what is to be understood from the data. From a raw collection standpoint this is probably the best resource out there if you are thinking about investments, company formation, or overall trends in the developer ecosystem. We had some time over here at Bowery Capital to sift through the data. With portfolio companies like Fero Labs, Codecademy, and Metricly all focused on this ecosystem we look every year to pull out some interesting themes as we continue to invest. Below are some subtle insights from the Stack Overflow survey.

1. “Data Scientist Or Machine Learning Specialists” Category Down? 12.2% of respondents last year called themselves data scientists or machine learning specialists. This year, it is 7.7%. We’re not sure what the difference or drastic change downward is but we found that pretty interesting as one of the major subtle insights from the Stack Overflow survey.

2. Rust As Most Loved. Rust again sails through its third year in a row as “Most Loved Programming Language.” We wouldn’t have known or guessed Rust would be at the top of the list yet again and continue to be a bit puzzled by that as one of the subtle insights from the Stack Overflow survey.

3. When Do People Write Code? 29% of developer respondents wake up at 7-8am. We expected more to work until 2am and wake up at 10am. What is driving this? Perhaps the normal business day. Overall, it seems clear that folks don’t have the flexibility to code when they want despite what most would think.

4. Primary OS Remains Windows. We are always surprised to see 49.9% of “Developers Primary OS” to be in Windows (vs. Mac as #2). You hear so much about the Mac ecosystem and it’s growth. The digital native seems to be focused on Mac however we often forget how big a presence Windows still has here.

5. Serverless Is Getting More Love. It was nice to see that 75.2% have Serverless (i.e. AWS Lambda) as the most loved platform. We expect a huge growth in this area over the next few years and believe it is one of the most important trends continuing in this ecosystem in the near term.

6. Gender Gap Remains Large. Only 6.9% of the survey respondents were women, which we wish was higher. It was interesting to see what men and women sought in jobs, too. Broad generalization, but men sound mercenary (pay me more and let me play with technology) while women sound more in line with employees you seek for a company that focuses on retention (culture and development).

7. Further Specialization Around Developer Type Would Be Cool. While the survey allows you to see what frameworks are really in use, growing, or waning from the developer community they don’t get second level in their questioning around some types we thought might be interesting. For instance, around AI/ML it would be unique to see what specializations are growing. It is clear that these folks are specific and focused but are they focused on Deep learning? Probabilistic ML? Both? Are they generalist AI/ML people? Specialist AI/ML people? Computer vision people? Recommendation systems people? The specializations are usually so specific in practice it would be interesting to see.

If you liked “Subtle Insights From The Stack Overflow Developer Survey 2018” and want to read more content from the Bowery Capital Team, check out other relevant posts from the Bowery Capital Blog