What languages do developers prefer for IoT solutions?

IoT Developer Survey 2018: Less talking, more doing

Eirini-Eleni Papadopoulou
© Shutterstock / buffaloboy  

The 2018 IoT Developer Survey is out and offers interesting insights into the future of IoT solutions and trends. Here we compare the 2017 and 2018 survey results and analyze any significant changes, including the most suitable programming languages and new technologies (*cough* blockchain *cough*).

IoT Developer Survey 2018 is out and offers some very interesting results on the current trends in the IoT landscape. The survey was conducted by the Eclipse IoT Working Group, in partnership with the IEEE IoT Initiative, the Open Mobile Alliance, and the AGILE-IoT H2020 Research Project between January and March 2018 with 502 individuals participating in the survey.

Instead of simply presenting the results of the 2018 survey, I thought it would be much more interesting to have a comparative analysis of this year’s and last year’s results. I downloaded the raw data for the 2018 and 2017 surveys and did a comprehensive analysis of the results.

At first glance, one of the most interesting things that I would point out is the shift from theory to practice. On numerous occasions, the survey highlighted a general trend of moving towards employment of IoT solutions, compared to the trend in 2017, which showed that participants preferred to stick to theory.

Let’s have a closer look at some of the key results of the 2018 IoT Developer Survey.

So, what do you do again?

Developers, researchers and architects are the professions that dominated the IoT survey. However, researchers appear to have lost interest in the topic over the past year — the percentage of researchers engaged in IoT topics is now considerably lower. Unlike researchers, architects and developers seem to be more and more interested in IoT.


This trend can be an indication of IoT moving further and further from the theoretical sphere and more into the world of application. Less “let’s talk about what this can accomplish” and more “let’s see how we can make this work”!

SEE ALSO: IoT trends for 2018: Digital Twins, Eclipse IoT integration and more

Primary experience with building IoT solutions

The IoT Developer Trends survey does not show any groundbreaking changes in this section. However, the general interest of companies in IoT technologies seems to be rising; survey respondents depict an increase of 5.8% in developing IoT solutions for a company.

This increase, coupled with the 6.3% decrease in general research for IoT solutions in the company environment, can be a reinforcing indicator of the trend that IoT specialists are moving away from the theoretical sphere and focusing more on putting theory into practice.

What is your company’s plan for IoT solutions?

This part of the survey is yet another indicator that IoT solutions are no longer purely theoretical. Companies appear to have shifted towards developing and employing IoT solution; development and employment of IoT solutions in future settings appear to have decreased significantly since last year.

However, interestingly enough, a considerable percentage of the respondents answered that they are not aware of their companies’ plans. Based on wild guessing (and only that!), I would say that this percentage represents the students, researchers and independent consultants that participated in the survey. Since they are not closely related to a particular company, they may not have specific information about a company’s plans for development and employment of IoT solutions.

Security it is!

Security remains the number one concern for developing IoT solutions. The decrease in percentage shown below is the result of the smaller number of participants in the 2018 survey rather than a significant change in the trends presented below.

Data collection and analytics increased significantly since last year, while connectivity, interoperability and hardware integration remain one of the main concerns.

Who is most interested in IoT?

IoT platforms, home and industrial automation are the dominating industries interested in IoT solutions, followed by energy management and smart cities. In this respect, no significant changes can be seen when comparing the results of the 2018 and 2017 surveys. The discrepancies presented below are, once again, mostly due to the higher survey participation last year.

Everyone is a winner! Except you JavaScript, you stay home.

Assembler registered a huge increase in popularity for constrained devices. The second most popular language for this purpose is C followed by JavaScript, Ruby and Swift. For constrained devices, R and Python appear to be among the least favorite languages. Apart from Assembler’s huge popularity boost, there are no other significant discrepancies when comparing the 2018 and 2017 results.

When it comes to IoT applications for edge/gateways, PHP, Ruby and Go appear to be the most popular according to the 2018 survey. Here, we can observe significant changes compared to last year when Java appeared to be by far the most popular language for edge/gateways applications, followed by Python, C and C++.

SEE ALSO: 3 tips for developers learning to build IoT hardware systems

When building cloud applications, Java is still at the top of developers’ preferences. Nonetheless, the success is divided this year, with Golang rising to the top and actually coming toe to toe with Java as the most prefered languges for cloud applications, following the general hype lately around Go. C++, C#, Lua, PHP, Python, R, Ruby, Rust and Swift seem to have gained popularity over the past year. Unfortunately, JavaScript seems like it’s the only one to have lost some fans.

Welcome, blockchain!

Communication security, followed by data encryption remains the top security-related technologies used in IoT solutions for 2018. The most interesting addition is blockchain. In 2017, there was no data on using blockchain as a security technology.

However, in the 2018 survey, approximately 11% of the respondents said they use blockchain in their IoT solutions.

Open source project participation

We have no significant discrepancies between the 2018 and 2017 surveys when it comes to IoT open source project participation. Organizations still like open source technologies as part of their IoT projects.

All in all, the survey is a clear reminder that IoT solutions are becoming more and more relevant and desired. The trend of “less talking, more doing” is an indicator that companies are now choosing to employ IoT solutions sooner rather than later.

And last but not least, the way blockchain has inserted itself in the conversation proves that this technology has a bright future.

Eirini-Eleni Papadopoulou
Eirini-Eleni Papadopoulou was the editor for Coming from an academic background in East Asian Studies, she decided that it was time to go back to her high-school hobby that was computer science and she dived into the development world. Other hobbies include esports and League of Legends, although she never managed to escape elo hell (yet), and she is a guest writer/analyst for competitive LoL at TGH.

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Benjamin Cabé
Benjamin Cabé
3 years ago

I am not sure where you saw Golang going through the roof? :-) I think you read the Excel file with the raw data wrong – it’s “61% of the people who use Go use it for Cloud”, not “Go is used in 61% of the cloud solutions” :-)