In Rust, we lust: Security-focused super-C++ language still most loved among Stack Overflow denizens

Trendy systems programming lingo tops poll fifth year on the trot

Rust for the fifth year in a row has held its position as the most-loved programming language in Stack Overflow's annual developer survey, even if it's not the primary language for most programmers and not many jobs require it.

Rust, beloved by 86 per cent of respondents this year, recently celebrated five years since its 1.0 release. After years of appreciation for its memory safety features, speed, and other benefits, the language is making the move from an aspirational technology to a growing presence in savvy software organizations.

Persistently popular Python slipped from second place to third (66.7 per cent), edged aside by TypeScript (67.1 per cent).

"TypeScript’s surge in popularity highlights Microsoft’s change of direction and embrace of the open source movement," said Ben Popper, director of content at Stack Overflow, in a blog post on Wednesday. "As front end web and Node.JS codebases grow in size and complexity, adopting TypeScript’s static typing gives developers increased confidence in their code’s correctness."

According to Popper, Stack Overflow has been using TypeScript more frequently: a growing amount of the site's JavaScript code comes from transpiled TypeScript.

After that, the beauty contest rankings went: Kotlin (62.9 per cent), Go (62.3 per cent), Julia (62.2 per cent), Dart (62.1 per cent), C# (59.7 per cent), Swift (59.5 per cent), and JavaScript (58.3 per cent).

The most loved category in the survey of 65,000 developers reflects the percentage of coders using the technology in some capacity who want to continue doing so.

Rust marks five years since its 1.0 release: The long and winding road actually works


One the flip side, the most dreaded category – defined as developers using the technology who express no desire to keep doing so – was topped by Visual Basic for Applications a.k.a. VBA (80.4 per cent). That's followed by Objective-C (76.6 per cent), Perl (71.4 per cent), Assembly (70.6 per cent), C (66.9 per cent), PHP (62.7 per cent), Ruby (57.1 per cent), C++ (56.6 per cent), Java (55.9 per cent), and R (55.5 per cent).

Python fans shouldn't feel too put out: For the fourth year in a row, it was the language developers most wanted to learn a wide margin.

These responses don't necessarily reflect the value of programming languages in the job market.

Globally, Perl was the top paying language alongside Scala, both had $76K median pay, with Go ($74) and Rust ($74) after that. In the US, Scala led with $150K, followed by Go at $140K.

Distaste for VBA may have some correlation with the lack of remuneration for using it: VBA ranked last in median pay among US respondents and was fifth from the bottom globally.

The survey covers a number of other topics related to demographics, work habits, experience, and education.

Those taking the survey are not a particularly diverse group: 68.3 per cent of respondents identified as being white or of European descent. Just 12 per cent identified as female or non-binary.

"While we saw a lift in underrepresented groups, the difference in representation isn’t as large as we had hoped," said Popper, acknowledging that the site has more to do when it comes to inclusivity.

Along those lines, Stack Overflow's hostility-squelching bots appear to be paying off: more than 15 per cent of respondents said they found Stack Overflow at least somewhat more welcoming than last year. ®

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