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The hidden favorite among programming languages

Programmers like exotic languages, according to a new Stack Overflow survey
(photo: CC0 Public Domain)

The new annual ranking of the world’s largest programming forum, Stack Overflow, is surprising given the popular perception from other rankings that Python is a favorite language of developers. In 2023, IT professionals have chosen both a most used and a favorite language, but in both cases it is not Python at all.

It turns out that the “people’s” Stack Overflow rating is completely different from those prepared by private companies. For example, in the Tiobe rating, the Python language is in first place in popularity, it has been the leader since October 2021.

According to Stack Overflow’s survey, this year Rust is the most popular programming language – about 30.6% of respondents would like to try it, and over 84.6% already have experience with it and plan to write more in Rust. These are the highest indicators compared to all other languages. In particular, for Python the results are 39.81% and 66.52%, respectively, and for JavaScript around 40% and 57.83%.

A young language

Rust is a very young language that has been in development since 2006 and first saw the light of day in July 2010. Behind it is ex-Mozilla employee Graydon Hoare. Rust reached its first stable version with index 1.0 in May 2015. Currently, its current version is 1.7, which was released on June 1, 2023.

Stack Overflow pollsters’ love for Rust is not unexpected. This is a feeling that grows stronger among programmers year after year. Rust was recognized as the most loved language back in 2021, and last year it also took first place in this ranking, although the competition was more intense then.

But in 2023, the rules for compiling the rating were slightly revised. Previously, for several years, the authors of the ranking asked developers what language they used last year and what language they would like to write in next year. The new rating system didn’t stop Rust from taking the top spot again.

The “dark web” factor

It’s possible that developers who mostly inhabit the dark web also helped keep Rust in the lead. This language is very popular among cybercriminals as it is still relatively less used. With it, they cheat signature analysis by, for example, hiding a Trojan horse written in C in a bootloader created with Rust. Hackers also completely rewrote their early Rust creations.

But Rust’s growing popularity among legal developers may cause hackers to lose interest in it. In this case, they have even less used languages ​​like Go, D and Nim in reserve.

The most popular languages

The final data published by Stack Overflow is the result of a survey among 90 thousand programmers from all over the world. According to their responses, JavaScript is the most commonly used language in 2023 with a score of 63.61%.

Neither C, nor C++, nor C# fall into the Top 3 – these languages ​​close the Top 10 with results of 19.34%, 22.42% and 27.62%, respectively. Instead, in the top three, besides JavaScript, are HTML, which shares second place with CSS (52.97%), and Python (49.28%).

SQL, TypeScript, and Java, as well as Bash, also made their way into Stack Overflow’s top ten.

Exotics and dinosaurs

According to the new rating, in 2023 the majority of programmers prefer “exotic”. Among their favorite languages ​​are the little-known Clojure, Elixir, Raku, and Zig, which many probably didn’t even know existed.

At the same time, IT people really don’t want to write in ancient programming languages ​​- they cite COBOL from 1959 as the most hated. The Matlab language is in a similar situation, although it is much younger – its first version was released in 1984, just a few years before the debut of the much more popular Python.

AI assistants are coming in permanently

Programmers also admit that they are “addicted” to virtual assistants. 77% of respondents fully approve of their use, and 70% report that they either plan to start using AI-based assistants or already use them and will not abandon them in the future.

The popularity of AI assistants among programmers is almost not affected by their experience in the profession – among novice programmers, about 82% use assistants, and among experienced programmers, about 70% do so.

Copilot, which appeared in 2021, is the most requested AI programming assistant in the survey. It’s part of Microsoft’s GitHub repository, and developers use it, even though it steals other developers’ code.

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