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Programmers love Google more than Apple, but dread Microsoft according to 100,000 developers (AAPL, GOOG, GOOGL, MSFT)

Matt Weinberger
stack overflow ceo joel spolsky

Stack Overflow


  • Stack Overflow released its 2018 developer survey results, a massive look into the state of modern programming, with over 101,592 respondents.
  • It finds that Google's Go programming language is a hair more "loved" than Apple's Swift, but that Microsoft's Visual Basic 6 is still the "most dreaded." 
  • The survey also finds that developers are excited by the notion that artificial intelligence can automate jobs.
  • The results also raise the alarming possibility that the tech industry is pushing out women and people from marginalized groups before their careers progress beyond the 5-year mark.

Today, the tremendously popular online programmer hangout Stack Overflow released its 2018 developer survey results, the absolute best look into the state of the software industry you can find anywhere.

With over 101,592 coders in 183 countries responding to the 30-minute survey — its biggest response yet — the Stack Overflow survey covers every conceivable topic, from trendy technologies to demographics.

Here are some key results, along with some insight from Stack Overflow CEO Joel Spolsky.

The Google-created Go programming language placed 5th in the "Most Loved" category, which measures how much developers want to keep working with a technology that they're already using. At a 65.6% approval rating, Go came in just ahead of Apple's Swift programming language, which clocked in at 6th place with 65.1%. Rust, a Mozilla-created programming language, was #1 with a bullet for the third year running with 78.9%.

The dubious "most dreaded" award

Also for the third year in a row, Microsoft's Visual Basic 6 won the dubious honor of "Most Dreaded," with a resounding 89.9% of developers currently using the language saying that they have no interest in continuing to do so. This was something of a personal affront to Spolsky, who describes VB6 to Business Insider as "the most perfect programming environment ever created." 

Along those same lines, the Python programming language is the "Most Wanted" technology, with 25.1% of developers who don't currently use it saying that they wish to acquire those skills. Spolsky ascribes Python's desirability to its popularity in the development of artificial intelligence — a field that the survey found was on the rise, with machine learning specialists and data scientists in the United States commanding an average salary of $102,000, the fourth-highest salary overall.

Otherwise, the survey gives some revealing detail into how software developers approach the intersection of technology and society. For instance, developers say that the most dangerous thing about artificial intelligence is the notion that algorithms might make important decisions, but that the most exciting aspect is that it could automate more jobs. 

9 out of 10 developers are men

On a final note, Spolsky points out one "sort of depressing" result of the survey: The largest single group of developers, accounting for 24.8% of respondents, have been working as developers for between 3 and 5 years. Another 11.4% have been working as developers for between zero and 2 years. 

There are two ways to look at that statistic: If you're an optimist, it means that the world of technology is fast-expanding, meaning lots of people finding new careers in programming. 

There's a more pessimistic reading, however. The results of the study show that 92.7% of respondents are male, and 74.2% of developers are white. Spolsky fears that those demographics, plus the prevalence of inexperienced developers, means that anybody who doesn't fit that profile tends to quit development by the 5-year mark.

"We push people out of the profession so quickly," laments Spolsky.

Read the full Stack Overflow survey here.

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