What We Can Learn From the 2016 Stack Overflow Developer Survey

A while ago I tweeted out a link to the 2016 Stack Overflow Developer survey for those of you who might be interested in participating. I filled out the survey, and last week Stack Overflow released the results. While some of the results aren’t surprising, let’s take a look at what we can learn from the over 50,000 developers who filled it out.

Programming Languages/Technologies
For the third straight year, JavaScript is the most popular language/technology in the world. Here are the top 10:

  1. JavaScript
  2. SQL (or SQL Server)
  3. Java
  4. C#
  5. PHP
  6. Python
  7. C++
  8. AngularJS
  9. Node.js
  10. C

The most “loved” programming language or technology (meaning developers have used it and want to continue to use it) are Rust, Swift, F#, Scala, and Go (in that order). Visual Basic was reported as the most “dreaded”, while React is the highest trending technology on Stack Overflow.

The most wanted languages/technologies that developers are not currently using but want to use include Android, Node.js, AngularJS, Python, and JavaScript.

Operating Systems
Mac OS X reigned supreme as the most used desktop operating system among all of the repondents (26.2%). This is a percentage that has increased for the fourth year in a row. Windows 7 was second with 22.5% and Linux was third with 21.7%.

If you were to combine Windows 10, 8, 7, XP, and Vista though, Windows  would be first and account for 52.2% of the operating system share. Back in 2013, all Windows versions combined accounted for over 60%. If these trends continue, it’s possible that in the near future Windows will drop to less than 50% of the OS use among developers.

Checking In Code
57% of respondents check in code multiple times per day, 17.7% check in a couple of times per week, 10.6% check in once per day, and 5.9% check in only a few times per month. Something that I thought was interesting is that developers who check in code more often also reported a higher job satisfaction. Is it that developers who get to code more are happier or just that happy developers check in more often? Probably the former.

Development Environments
For development environments (IDEs, text editors, etc.), Visual Studio and Notepad++ topped the chart. The average developer uses between 2 and 3 development environments.

Tech Gender Gap
The tech gender gap comes as no surprise, with 92.8% of the respondents being men. However, it should be noted that there are slightly more women in the industry than is shown in the survey. Stack Overflow suggests that this is in part due to the fact that the survey underrepresents countries where women represent a higher percentage of the tech workforce, such as South Korea, India, and China.

Designer and Quality Assurance were the highest reported developer occupations among women.

In terms of occupation, more respondents reported that they work as “Full-Stack Web Developers” than any other.


When asked what type of role the survey participants identify with, the most common responses were developers, programmers, engineers, senior developers, or full-stack developers.



Many developers (69.1%) stated that they are self-taught. 43.3% have received a B.S. or B.A. in Computer Science (or a related field) with 19.7% having received a Masters Degree in Computer Science (or  a related field). Only 2.1% received a PhD in Computer Science (or a related field).

Salaries/Job Priorities
The top paying technologies in the U.S. are:

  • Spark, Scala – $125,000
  • Cassandra, F#, Hadoop – $115,000
  • Cloud (AWS, GAE, Azure, etc.), Redis, Go, Clojure, React, Perl  – $105,000

Worldwide, the results were slightly different. Here are the top 10, reported as a percentage of the average developer salary in their country:

  1. F# – 131.7%
  2. Dart – 131.1%
  3. Cassandra – 130.9%
  4. Spark – 130.5%
  5. Hadoop – 128.5%
  6. Clojure – 123.9%
  7. Scala  – 122.3%
  8. Salesforce – 119.5%
  9. Redis – 115.7%
  10. Go (tied with #9) – 115.7%

The top paying technologies for full-stack developers are as follows:


And for front-end developers:


Salary isn’t everything, although it was selected as the highest job priority among developers. Here’s the full list of what developers look for in a job:


12.1% of the respondents work remotely full-time, 17.6% work remotely part-time, 48.4% rarely work remotely while 22.0% never work remotely.

Wrapping Up
JavaScript continues to be the most popular language in the world, something that will certainly continue in the next year. The use of Windows as the operating system of choice among developers continues to decline. More developers check in code multiple times per day than any other frequency, and developers who check in code more often have a higher degree of job satisfaction.

The tech gender gap continues, with an overwhelming and disproportionate percentage of developers being men.

More developers identify themselves as “full stack developers” than any other occupation, showing how many developers deal with both the front and back ends. Cloud technologies and React have surged to become among the highest paying technologies in the field.

Many developers are self taught, although 43.3% of developers do have a B.S. or B.A in computer science (or a related field).

It will be interesting to see what existing trends continue and what new trends emerge in the next Stack Overflow Developer survey.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *