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Rust and Python top list of most popular development languages

A new Stack Overflow survey of over 100,000 developers indicated Java and JavaScript are not as popular as they had been before. Find out what developers really want to program with.

Java and JavaScript are still in play, but Rust and Python are among the most dear and desired development languages, according to a Stack Overflow survey over 100,000 developers.

The annual survey, while large, does reflect Stack Overflow users, so the results around Java usage are weighted toward a much more active base Android developers, rather than the back-end Java developers who are less active on the site.

What love means

The survey results correlated metrics usage, love, dread and want indirectly by asking developers questions about the programming languages they use currently and the ones they want to try in the coming year. "By asking these two questions, we get some interesting dynamics what is going on in the tech ecosystem," said Stack Overflow data scientist Dr. Julia Silge, who analyzed the data. The most popular development languages include JavaScript, Java and HTML for apps and SQL for databases.

Some the least popular languages include Visual Basic 6, COBOL and Visual Basic .NET.

The number developers who want to continue to use their current language reflects their "love" for it. Rust and Python are among the most popular development languages. Almost 80% developers who use Rust want to continue, making it the most loved language, but those numbers do reflect a relatively small user base.

In contrast, "dreaded" languages are those that developers hope to not use next year. Some the least popular languages include Visual Basic 6, COBOL and Visual Basic .NET. "These are languages that are not only not considered cool, but considered by developers as not pleasant to use," Silge said.

"Wanted" languages represent what developers are eager to try in the next year. These languages tend to have a lot name , are usually pleasant to use, are associated with high salaries and are useful for solving interesting problems. The most popular development languages developers hope to work with include Python and Go.

Favorite languages
Stack Overflow surveyed over 100,000 developers about the most popular development languages.

Data gets a boost

The survey also looked at frameworks. Machine learning was an object interest this year, with Google's TensorFlow and Facebook's PyTorch at or near the top the list for most loved frameworks. Other popular frameworks target web development and include React, Node.js and .NET Core.

The most beloved database was Redis, a key-value store. Silge, who uses Redis herself, said it is simple, reliable and fast. However, MongoDB is the most wanted, indicating that more people have heard about it. That said, survey respondents also named MongoDB as something they weren't inclined to continue to use. "Niche technologies, like Redis, are loved because they solve the problem they were designed for incredibly well," Silge said. "Developers tend to love things that are simple, powerful and well-implemented."

Less love for Java

The surveyed developers didn't feel quite as much love for Java, particularly when compared with JavaScript. And while Java itself was rated as popular, most who took the survey develop Android apps. This group developers also tended to use Eclipse and IntelliJ for their IDE and Android Studio and Firebase as part their app-dev tooling.

In the U.S., the most popular development languages with the best paychecks were Erlang, Scala, OCaml, Clojure and Go. None these would be a programmer's language, Silge explained, so proficiency in them is harder to find. "These are languages experienced developers are coming to as second, third or fourth languages to solve specific problems," she said. Scala, as one example, is often adopted as a functional language for solving big data problems, and those types of jobs offer higher salaries. "If you are a Java programmer and learn Scala, that would be a good move, but you would also need to be in a situation in a current job or a new job where you could make use of those skills," she said.

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