Stack Overflow Survey Goes Far Beyond JavaScript Popularity

Stack Overflow released the raw data from its 2016 developer study issued in March to enable data geeks, employers and others to further analyze it.

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Stack Overflow has released the raw data from its 2016 Developer Survey, which found JavaScript to be the most popular programming language around.

Released in March, the survey was the most comprehensive developer survey to date, with more than 50,000 responses fielded from across 173 countries, Stack Overflow said. The results of the survey provided insight on developer hiring and technology trends, among other issues.

However, with the release of the raw data, developers, employers and data scientists are able to glean even greater insights from further analyzing the information.

"You can analyze this year's and previous years' results yourself by downloading the raw data from our brand new research portal," said Kaitlin Pike, developer marketing manager at Stack Overflow, in a blog post.

Pike noted that although Stack Overflow believes it knows software developers better than anyone else, the company is curious to see what others will come up with in their analysis of the Stack Overflow data.

Stack Overflow's launch of its new research site means users can compare what developers have said about the state of the programming world and workforce since 2011, Pike said.

"You'll be able to answer questions about how technology preferences have changed over time, whether particular demographics correlate with certain developer job types, and even what programmers think of Stack Overflow," she noted.

In addition to finding JavaScript to be the most popular programming language in the world, the survey also exposed several lesser known issues regarding software development, such as the fact that more than two-thirds (69 percent) of respondents said they are at least partly self-taught. Indeed, 46 percent of developers don't have a bachelor's degree in computer science or a related field, the survey showed.

However, salaries for self-taught software developers did not differ greatly from those with B.A.'s in computer science or a related field. According to the survey, self-taught programmers in the United States. averaged $103,801 annually, while those with a B.A. in computer science or a related field averaged $106,678. Software developers with a B.S. in computer science averaged $109,609, while a master's degree fetched $118,803 and a Ph.D. averaged $122,219.

The Stack Overflow raw data also showed that for every one female software developer there are at least nine male developers. Also, according to the survey, most female developers are either in their 20s or are over 50 years of age. This indicates that a generation of women either chose not to work in software development or they tried it and evolved into other positions.

Also, based on team size and the number of women on each team, analysts and data scientists are more likely to work with a high percentage of women on their team, the survey said.

Additionally, the survey indicated that job satisfaction is highly correlated with pushing code to production. And developers who work in gaming—which represents 2.4 percent of respondents—are more likely to love their jobs than anyone else.

Stack Overflow is so popular among developers that every eight seconds, a developer asks a question on the site. In January alone, 46 million people visited Stack Overflow to get help or give help to a fellow developer.

"Stack Overflow has an incredible user base and it is great to see them survey them with such an extensive survey," said Al Hilwa, an analyst at IDC.

Hilwa said he loves that Stack Overflow has released the "micro data" from its survey. He said it is the largest developer survey he has seen so far and is good for learning a great deal about specific segments of developers. However, Hilwa noted that it is tough to draw generalizations across all developers because every survey, no matter how large, carries biases based on where the respondents come from.

In this survey, for example, Hilwa said he thinks Web development skills, at close to 60 percent of all respondents, is over-represented in the survey. But this probably speaks to the nature of Stack Overflow developers, he noted.

"Having said that, the data is extremely valuable for drilling down into specific developer communities and uncovering interesting geographic distributions and skills in them," Hilwa said.