JavaScript and Python reign, but Rust usage rises among developers

More than 20,000 developers in 166 countries participated in the SlashData survey, which found that Rust's usage nearly quadrupled over the past 24 months.

When it comes to developer preference, JavaScript and Python have maintained their staying power while Rust usage is rising, according to a recent worldwide survey of developers.

A May 4 report entitled, 'State of the Developer Nation, 22nd Edition', from analyst firm SlashData, featured data from a survey of more than 20,000 developers in 166 countries, taken from December 2021 to February 2022. 

In this report, JavaScript remained the most-popular language for the tenth survey in a row, with nearly 17.5 million developers using the popular web scripting language. SlashData has published these reports about two to three times a year for several years.

The JavaScript community itself has been growing consistently for several years. Python, which surpassed Java in popularity two years ago, was the second most-popular language behind JavaScript, with 15.7 million users. In just the past six months, Python added 3.3 million net new developers.

Rust adoption, meanwhile, has nearly quadrupled over the past 24 months, going from 600,000 developers in Q1 2020 to 2.2 million Q1 2022. “The security and memory safety [of Rust] enables people to create with a lot of confidence,” said Rust Foundation Executive Director Rebecca Rumbul, commenting on the report. 

“The maintainer and contributor community are inclusive and supportive. Rust is also a great choice for developers looking to enhance their professional prospects, as demand for Rust developers continues to increase.” Rust, the report said, has mostly been used in IoT projects but also in augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR) development.

The report includes additional findings that Java continues to experience strong and steady growth. Nearly five million developers have joined the Java community since the beginning of 2021.

Meanwhile, PHP has grown the least in the past six month, with an increase of 600,000 net new developers between Q3 2021 and Q1 2022. But PHP is the second-most-commonly used language in web applications after JavaScript.

Furthermore, Go and Ruby are important languages in back-end development, but Go has grown more than twice as fast in the past year. The Go community now numbers 3.3 million developers.

Specific to Kotlin, the community has grown from 2.4 million developers in Q1 2021 to five million in Q1 2022. This is largely attributed to Google making Kotlin its preferred language for Android development.

In addition, 46 per cent of developers use low-code or no-code tools for some portion of their work. Experienced developers, particularly those with more than 10 years of experience, are the least likely to use these tools.