17,000 programmers weigh in

Global developer report: 11 million devs actively use JavaScript

Sarah Schlothauer
© Shutterstock / Brian A Jackson

Which programming languages have the strongest communities and the most active programmers? How many devs are implementing DevOps strategies? What frameworks are mobile programmers using? Let’s take a dip into the data and see what 17,000 developers from 155 countries revealed in SlashData’s report, Developer Economics: State of the Developer Nation 17th Edition.

Developer analyst and research company SlashData conducted a survey, asking 17,000 developers about their experiences, platforms, ecosystems, and programming languages. The data was compiled in a free-to-download report: Developer Economics: State of the Developer Nation 17th Edition. Reaching an international audience, the survey was translated into eight languages and received data from 155 countries.

Keep one finger on the pulse of the global programming community.  Here are some key insights gleaned from the report.

JavaScript is top dog, but Kotlin is growing fast

SlashData’s report places JavaScript firmly on top, stating that over 11 million developers use JavaScript. This number includes the use of languages that compile to JS, like CoffeeScript and TypeScript. JavaScript is used across various sectors, ranging from web development and server applications, so it comes as no surprise to see such high numbers.

Tracking the active use of programming languages can reveal differing answers depending on the methodology used. For instance, the TIOBE Index claims Java is the number one language.


Top 5 programming languages. Source. © SlashData

Kotlin may not be in the top five most actively used programming languages, however, it is quickly growing. In one year, JetBrain’s Kotlin went from 11th place to 8th place in the SlashData report. Currently, the report estimates that 1.9 million developers (or 1 in 10) use Kotlin.

This growth may reflect the fact that Kotlin is a first-class language for Android. Many Android devs are turning from Java to Kotlin for app development.

Kotlin is also climbing up other charts, such as RedMonk’s programming language ranking. Its GitHub repository currently has over 29,700 stars and boasts 344 contributors.

DevOps is in demand

DevOps and automation continue to see an increase in interest and usage. According to a report published by Dice Insights based on Burning Glass Nova data, the number one most in-demand tech skill is DevOps. According to SlashData, over 70% of developers are interested in DevOps, and are either learning about it or have already implemented its practices.

The SlashData report states:

DevOps is evolving quickly and reaching across developer operations, organisations and skill sets. It is no longer just about continuous integration, but has evolved to continuous deployment or the automation of the entire production process. With this increase in automation and reach, integrating end-to-end security becomes an important part of the process. Machine learning and data science are also increasingly used to optimise automation and operations.

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Good news for DevOps specialists: according to the Stack Overflow Calculator, DevOps specialists earn top salaries. The financial benefit of DevOps may also be a driving push for its implementation.

Top cross-platform mobile frameworks

Cross-platform frameworks allow devs to target multiple devices, which can save precious time by making code reusable. 34% of surveyed developers stated that they have used cross-platform mobile frameworks in the past year.

What are devs using as their primary framework?


Most used cross-platform frameworks. Source. © SlashData

React Native is the most commonly used choice, with 23% of developers opting for it. React Native uses native components and React concepts in order to build apps for iOS and Android devices. Since it is written in JavaScript, most developers already have an appropriate knowledge base to build off of.

According to SlashData, devs who primarily target iOS devs are mostly using React Native (31%). Meanwhile, devs targeting for Windows 8/10 devices turn to Xamarin for their needs.

Chatbot and messaging platform development

Global differences between developer priorities can be seen in chatbot development.

SEE ALSO: 8 key Kotlin features that give it an edge over Java

In Asia, nearly 2 out of 5 developers build apps for messaging platforms and/or chatbots. However, only 22% of North American and Western European devs are developing messaging or chatbot apps. The popularity of messaging apps such as LINE and WeChat in Asian countries may be the reason for the high number of messaging platform devs.

As chatbots become more complex or see a variety of use cases (such as in e-commerce) these numbers may grow globally.

Sarah Schlothauer

Sarah Schlothauer

All Posts by Sarah Schlothauer

Sarah Schlothauer is the editor for She received her Bachelor's degree from Monmouth University, West Long Branch, New Jersey. She currently lives in Frankfurt, Germany with her husband and cat where she enjoys reading, writing, and medieval reenactment. She is also the editor for Conditio Humana, an online magazine about ethics, AI, and technology.

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