Stack Overflow Developer Survey 2019 (we are back!)

The 2019 Stack Overflow Developer Survey Results Are In

Here are some relevant points:

  • 68.2% of the participants who have developed or are interested in Elixir selected Elixir as one of the Most Loved programming languages, making it top #8 in this category. This increased from 62.4% in the 2017 survey.
  • Elixir programmers are on average some of the best paid software engineers in the world, reaching the top #5 in the highest salaries category
  • Developers who work with Rust, WebAssembly, and Elixir contribute to open source at the highest rates :sunglasses:

Stack Overflow Developer Survey 2019 results are in.

Key results:

  • Elixir is used by 1.6% of Professional Developers (Python 39.4%, Ruby 8.9%, Go 8.8%, Scala 4.2%)
  • Elixir is the 8th most loved language with 68.2% (Rust 83.5%, Python 73.1%, Clojure 68.3%, Go 67.9%, Scala 58.3%, Ruby 50.3%, Erlang 47.4%)
    “loved” = % of developers who are developing with the language or technology and have expressed interest in continuing to develop with it
  • Erlang is the 6th most dreaded language with 52.6% (Ruby 49.7%, Scala 41.7%, Go 32.1%, Elixir 31.8%, Clojure 31.7%)
    “dreaded” = % of developers who are developing with the language or technology but have not expressed interest in continuing to do so
  • there are little developers who don’t work in Elixir or Erlang but want to try them out
  • Elixir and Erlang developers are among the top paid ones

The takeaway seems to be that people are really happy with Elixir once they get on board. The opposite seems to be true for Erlang. I’m honestly curious why. I would hope that it’s because people would rather move to Elixir, but that might be just wishful thinking.

Relatively few people want to try out Elixir or Erlang. Is this just a matter of limited popularity or we’re just bad at advertising the strong sides of Elixir?


I suppose it is because of Erlang’s syntax.

I wrote a thread on Twitter about the results and Code Beam wrote another thread.

Which I actually quite enjoy, more so than Elixir’s syntax actually… :frowning:

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"The common thread between the most loved programming languages is that they were all born in the past five to 10 years, with the exception of Microsoft’s C#, which appeared nearly two decades ago, and 29-year-old Python.

It also seems developers have a distaste for older languages, with the top 10 most-dreaded all first appearing over 20 years ago."

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" * DevOps specialists and site reliability engineers are among the highest paid, most experienced developers most satisfied with their jobs, and are looking for new jobs at the lowest levels."

Maybe time to change profession … :slight_smile:

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I think it has more to do with where the centre of gravity of the existing developer population (voting on stack overflow) is. It seems to be around JavaScript, Python, Java, C#, PHP etc.

From there Elixir/Erlang syntax wise, functional and process oriented, without OOP support looks like a pretty weird and unfamiliar place. It takes some time to become competent in your first programming language and when it comes time to branch out people are often not that willing to move too far away from their comfort zone - i.e. they will tend to stay pretty close to that centre of gravity. Learning something as different as SQL can be challenging enough but at least the potential for short term ROI is pretty good on that one.

I seem to recall that at least initially a significant portion of the people interested in Elixir were experienced (long time) developers who have been using mainstream languages and runtimes long enough to be more aware of their limitations and shortcomings. The appearance of Elixir just made it a little bit easier to try Erlang’s process oriented architecture and flavour of functional programming.

Aside: How did WebAssembly even get on that list - it’s a compilation target, not a programming language.


Iirc that is the survey-author’s fault, for putting it as an option for that question.

Relatively few people want to try out Elixir or Erlang. Is this just a matter of limited popularity or we’re just bad at advertising the strong sides of Elixir?

Just my observation and opinion but the strongest presence for Elixir is web dev, Phoenix, and that’s a crowded market now at least compare to when I was doing web dev. Unless yall wanna advertise the moon like what NodeJS did back then which was almost at the level of MongoDB promises. I think there is a missed opportunity in term of advertising API restful or graphql I don’t feel like the area is emphasize as much in the community (which is a small community).

As for other things such as embedded system that’s relatively new and aren’t as advertise as well (not a lot of posts hitting hackernews and /r/programming). I think personally it’s great that there are many more area.

Another thing is… I think new languages was a thing back then around Scala time now there are tons of them. Ceylon, Kotlin, etc…, the honey moon is over and there are tons of choices and so little time.

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I kind of agree with the overall point but would also like to point out that making a large-ish RESTful or GraphQL in Elixir comes with challenges that don’t seem solved just yet. Last I worked with Absinthe we’ve had to resort to our own breed of aspect-oriented programming so as not to have huge schema and resolver files.

Not saying that’s the job of the library authors of course. It’s just that I personally feel slightly fearful doing big RESTful / GraphQL projects in Elixir lately. Management and being able to keep things in your head – or in a consistent file/directory structure – becomes a challenge.

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