Following our latest Developer Nation Survey, results are in and our State of the Developer Nation report 21st edition is now available! More than 19,000 developers from around the world participated and shed light on how they learn, the tools they use, how they are involved in emerging technologies, but also what would make them switch employers, among other topics.
As always, programming languages are a beloved subject of debate and one of the first topics we cover. The choice of language matters deeply to developers because they want to keep their skills up to date and marketable. It matters to toolmakers too, because they want to make sure they provide the most useful SDKs.
It can be hard to assess how widely used a programming language is. The indices available from players like Tiobe, Redmonk, Stack Overflow’s yearly survey, or GitHub’s Octoverse are great, but offer mostly relative comparisons between languages, providing no sense of the absolute size of each community. They may also be biased geographically or skewed towards certain fields of software development or open source developers.
The estimates we present here look at active software developers using each programming language; across the globe and across all kinds of programmers. They are based on two pieces of data:
We estimate that, as of Q3 2021, there are 26.8 million active software developers in the world
More than 70% of ML developers and data scientists report using Python
Java is the cornerstone of the Android app ecosystem as well as one of the most important general-purpose languages. Although it has been around for more than two decades now, its traction among developers keeps steadily growing. Since mid-2018, nearly 2.5M developers have joined the Java community, which now counts 9.6M developers.
Rust has formed a very strong community of developers who care about performance, memory safety, and security. As a result, it grew faster than any other language in the last 24 months. Rust has nearly tripled in size from just 0.4M developers in Q3 2019 to 1.1M in Q3 2021.
Rust is mostly used in embedded software projects but also in AR/VR development, most commonly for implementing the low-level core logic of AR/VR applications.
The more niche languages – Go, Ruby, Dart, and Lua – are still much smaller, with up to 2M active software developers each. Go and Ruby are important languages in backend development, but Go has grown slightly faster in the past year, both in absolute and percentage terms. Dart has also seen a significant uptick in its adoption in the last year. This has been fuelled predominantly by the increasing adoption of the Flutter framework in mobile development. Finally, Lua was the second fastest growing language community in the past two years, behind Rust, mainly attracting AR/VR and IoT developers looking for a scripting alternative to low-level languages such as C and C++.
You can read more about programming languages communities in the State of the Developer Nation report 21st edition.