See what's keeping developers from learning Rust

Rust Survey 2019 reveals the need for more documentation

Maika Möbus
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The Rust Survey Team has released its latest annual Rust Survey. For the fourth year in a row, developers were questioned about their views on the programming language. Read on to find out what the community would like to see improved and what is keeping developers from getting started with Rust.

The results of the Rust Survey 2019 have been published on the Rust blog. Nearly 4,000 respondents took part, and of the 14 available languages, they chose to complete the questionnaire mainly in English (69.6%), Chinese (10.8%), and German (4.3%). Compared to the previous year, more participants said they were using Rust: the number rose from 75% to 82.8%.

Rust is a multi-paradigm programming language that was developed by Mozilla and first released ten years ago, in July 2010. The latest release, Rust 1.42, arrived just last month. With its focus on security, the programming language is, for example, being used at the Microsoft Security Response Center: “What separates Rust from C and C++ is its strong safety guarantees.”

SEE ALSO: Rust 1.42.0 adds subslice patterns and improved panic messaging

Let’s dive right into the survey results and see what the community had to say!

Community wishes

What would the Rust community like to see improved? It turns out that documentation in the respondents’ native languages was in high demand—especially among the respondents who filled out the survey in Chinese, but as the team points out, this may be due to the higher representation.

The Rust team is currently working on translating its documentation and you can follow the progress on GitHub.

In general, the survey participants were interested in more learning material mainly for the beginner and intermediate level. Individual suggestions that were voiced include video content, online classes, more organized mentorship, and more tutorials for simple concepts.

Experience levels

The survey found that backend web applications is the most common industry for full-time Rust users to work in, and the most common job title is Programmer/Software Engineer. Compared to previous surveys, the percentage of daily Rust users has increased. In 2017, the number was 17.5%, in 2018 25%, and in 2019 27.6%. In the current survey, 40.9% of respondents use Rust weekly, 19.8% monthly and 11.7% rarely.

Not surprisingly, the survey found that the perceived level of expertise increases continuously with the length of time developers have been using Rust. Over all experience levels, the survey respondents’ answers were mainly between 3 and 8 on a scale of 1-10 from beginner to expert, showing a diverse range of knowledge:

Entrance hurdles

Now that we’ve taken a closer look at Rust users, let’s see what is keeping other developers from using Rust. It’s interesting to note that the most common job title as well as industry did not differ from the Rust users above.

The main reason for not using Rust was simply “My company doesn’t use Rust.” Other aspects include the learning curve, lack of needed libraries, being slowed down by switching or lack of IDE support.

Here’s the full list of reasons why developers have never used Rust:

Most respondents indicated that Rust maturity would improve adoption of the programming language, meaning more libraries and more mature production capabilities. The top three wishes for improving adoption were better training/documentation, more/better libraries, and IDE integration.

SEE ALSO: How to keep your network secure & Agile during COVID-19

All in all, the survey found that the known significant learning curve is still a challenge. The Rust Survey Team concludes that it will take the results into account to improve the language as well as its ecosystem—and we will continue to keep tabs on the language updates.

See the full report for more details.

Maika Möbus
Maika Möbus has been an editor for Software & Support Media since January 2019. She studied Sociology at Goethe University Frankfurt and Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz.

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