Stack Overflow Developer Survey

Tabs are officially better than spaces

Natali Vlatko
Keyboard image via Shutterstock

After sorting through more than 26,000 responses from developers around the world, the results are in from the most authoritative developer survey ever conducted.

Stack Overflow is the developer equivalent of the Oracle at Delphi in Ancient Greek history. Actually, it’s probably more accurate and you don’t have to sacrifice an animal for an answer.

Every year, the programming Q&A site conduct a survey revolving around developer profiles, education, work, community and caffeine. This year’s survey saw a whopping 26,086 people from 157 countries participate, making it one of the biggest in the site’s history.

In case the whole thing was a bit of a TL;DR scenario for you, here’s a round-up of the most interesting aspects of the survey. Brace yourselves.

Tabs officially better than spaces

Yes, you read that right. 45% of respondents sided with tabs as their preferred key du jour, with 33.6% hitting the space bar. However, after looking at the data more closely, Stack Overflow noticed that developers increasingly prefer spaces as they gain experience.

With the survey revealing a good chunk of respondents to be under the age of 30 and have less than 5 years experience, it’s no wonder the results are a victory for the tabs army. Further analysis also indicates that Stack Overflow reputation correlates with a preference for spaces: users who have 10,000 reputation points or more prefer spaces to tabs at a ratio of 3 to 1.

JavaScript is still kicking Java’s ass

Surprise, everyone! JavaScript remains the most-used programming language by devs who are predominantly English speaking and who are all basically male. Wait, you thought that there wouldn’t be any bias? Tsk tsk.

JavaScript captures 54.4% of votes for most popular technology, with SQL and Java rounding out the Top 3. Even with a third-place-finish, Java still remains the #1 server side language, as well as the most frequently used tag on Stack Overflow.

Angular and Node have come neck and neck with 13.3% of the vote. But you know what? Redditor mistidoi wants to know why Ruby isn’t on the most loved language list in this freaking survey? There’s an answer for that:

You don’t say.

Salesforce and Visual Basic among most hated technologies

Now this list will probably come as less of a surprise to most, with Salesforce and Visual Basic the most hated technologies EVER. In fact, they’re only separated by 1.2% of the hate vote. Third place goes to WordPress, and that sticks a dagger in my cold, black heart.

It’s worth pointing out that the ‘Most Dreaded’ list is comprised of technologies that devs who’ve used the tech before have expressed an interest in NOT continuing to do so. That means they’ve tried Salesforce and think it sucks.

10% of developers don’t use source control

So, source control is seen as an industry standard tool. However, fun fact: about 10% of developers still don’t use it. The terminology can be a bit confusing, too – version control is another name for it, with Stack Overflow tackling the question of its use in various ways.

Of the dudes who do use source control, the majority prefer Git, which collected 69.3% of votes. SVN comes in at second place, but with a hefty gap to close at 36.9%.

While there are a plethora of other results to take in, such as Scandinavia being the most caffeinated programming region in the world, it’s worth checking out the full results here.

If Stack Overflow as a Service (hardy har) is something you’ve become skeptical of lately, then it’s worth joining the conversation over on Michael T. Richter’s blog, where he discusses why he no longer contributes to the SO community.

Our comparison of Stack Overflow to the Delphic Oracle is somewhat reminiscent of Richter’s final blow: “Learn foundational principles instead of answers to immediate questions”.

Natali Vlatko
An Australian who calls Berlin home, via a two year love affair with Singapore. Natali was an Editorial Assistant for (S&S Media Group).

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