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March 22nd, 2016

It’s Official: JavaScript Is The Most Commonly Used Programming Language On Earth

“Even Back-End developers are more likely to use it than any other language.”

The average software developer is a male, aged 29.6 years and pretty much obsessed with JavaScript.

Software resource community Stack Overflow released its annual developer survey this month and results reinforce the fact that JavaScript is taking over the world.

The annual Stack Overflow survey is perhaps the definitive developer demographics report released every year. The 2016 report has more than 50,000 responses from around the world with Stack Overflow claiming that the survey reaches 0.4% of all developers on the globe.

Overall, 92.8% of respondents identified as male, with only 5.8% female (which correlates with other developer studies we have seen). The average age of 29.6 years old (the media age for the entire survey was 27) is up from 28.9 years from Stack Overflow’s 2015 survey, which shows that many of the same developers who answered the survey last year also participated in 2016. The United States has the highest average age of developers at 32 years.

The average developer has 6.5 years of experience. The average front-end developer has 3.5 years of experience while full stack developers average eight years of experience. Engineering managers average the most experience at 13 years.

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Developers: Full Stack And JavaScript

More than a quarter (28%) of all developers in the Stack Overflow survey identify as full stack developers. Full stack developers are proficient in multiple programming languages and frameworks and levels of the development stack, from the front-end, back-end and cloud and infrastructure.


About 12.2% of respondents identify as back-end developers and another 11.4% as students. Mobile developers 8.4%), desktop (6.9%) and front-end Web developers (5.8%) round out the most cited developer occupations.

What tools are all of these developers using? It does not matter what aspect of the stack they are working on, just about all of them responded that they use JavaScript.

“JavaScript is the most commonly used programming language on earth. Even Back-End developers are more likely to use it than any other language,” Stack Overflow said.

Full-stack developers go for JavaScript with 85.3% saying they use it. About 90.5% of front-end developers use JavaScript. Even 54.5% of back-end developers use JavaScript, ahead of SQL (53.3%) and Java (41.6%).



JavaScript places sixth among mobile developers at 28.9%, though the list above JavaScript is a little redundant, with Android, Java, iOS, Objective-C and Swift placing ahead of JavaScript. Of course, native Android development is done in Java while iOS development is done in Objective-C and/or Swift.

JavaScript leads the “most popular” technologies on Stack Overflow for the fourth year in a row at 55.4%. Stack Overflow notes that PHP is beginning to fall off among developers (25.9% in 2016 versus 29.7% in 2015) as JavaScript-associated technologies like Angular and Node emerge.


JavaScript overtook Java as the most-tagged technology on Stack Overflow in June 2015 and was tagged 62,588 times in January 2016 (versus 55,134 for Java). React—a cross-platform tool that relies on aspects of JavaScript—was the biggest trend on Stack Overflow, growing 311.3%. The biggest loser in the trend report was Windows Phone, down 65.2%.


What else are all of these full-stack developers using to build software in addition to JavaScript? The most common combinations among full-stack developers are JavaScript, PHP and SQL (23%), C#, JavaScript and SQL (21.7%) and C#, JavaScript and SQL Server (20.6%).

Lead image: “The Real JavaScript Robot” by Flickr user Ben Alman, Creative Commons (no changes made).

  • O Eclipse do Cubo de 30µ

    it can be powerfull than c. someday. it requires an time frame object to deal with asynchronism of hardware as long we can’t rely on op codes cause c is just an macro of assembler that appears to be a language. very clever for that time. not enough for now. there will never be function sleep(){…};

    • swampwiz0

      C is gobs more elegant than JavaScript.

  • Richard Eng

    This is actually quite sad. The IT world has been bamboozled into using this broken language. It has drunk the Kool-aid and now it faces a questionable future as JavaScript applications grow in size beyond a reasonable threshold. JavaScript is wholly unsuitable for software engineering at scale. It will create maintenance and reliability problems. And it will teach bad habits to an entire generation of naive developers.

    • I’ve spent the past decade building javascript applications – at scale. Corporate internal management solutions. Management systems for land and sea logistics providers. Internet banking systems. Datastores and APIs for media conglomerates. All written in Javascript. All reliable. Often used by millions of people. In charge of finances. Ferries. Trains.

      Your self promotion and fear mongering are immature and self serving.

      • Richard Eng

        So you claim. However, I’ve spoken to many other JavaScript developers who tell the opposite story. How to explain this dichotomy?

        Perhaps you’re an exceptional JavaScript programmer. In every awful language, there are some who master the tool and many who do not. The evidence is clear: most JS devs are not very good. They abuse the language to no end. The blame can be laid squarely on JavaScript’s lack of discipline…by design! Even Eric Elliott, one of the most vociferous defenders of JavaScript, has lamented about the general poor quality of JS devs:

        My “self promotion and fear mongering” are your unsubstantiated opinion. In truth, I get nothing out of this. I’m doing this as a philanthropic act. I feel it is my civic duty to warn the IT community about the dangers of using this undisciplined and wayward language. This is based on my 20+ years in IT, having used a great variety of programming languages. I will never make a cent off of this. I will never get any recognition. I am doing this simply as an act of conscience.

        Furthermore, I am seriously pushing for a proper reform of the JavaScript language: . This goes far beyond “fear mongering.”

        • swampwiz0

          Very good. I think I now understand why I hate JavaScript so much: there is no craftsmanship that a programmer can derive motivation from, and immerse himself in to make himself have pride in his craft, as well as be a valued commodity in the labor market.

          • SYates

            I hope, in my lifetime, the day will come for people to be respected as individuals they most likely should have become rather than the suitably convenient advantages which the have nots have come to represent including those who only think they qualify as one among those who do have… o, say… freedom from the tyranny of individual liberty. Most members of the most exclusive societies of mathematicians and scientists tend to reference everyone other than themselves short of being known publicly as the indigent population. That is to say, truthfully, when where they stand is not within earshot of anyone considered to be… o, say… a flight risk.
            A morning toast with my glass of milk. Here’s to always surpassing the expectation that each of us could become a commodity some day… and be lucky enough to inherit the craftsmanship We need to experience what it’s like to enjoy each our respective professional endeavors. Prosti~

            #NoHashTagsAllowed, and doesn’t it figure?

          • gorgikosev

            First of all, JavaScript is seen as a “low status” language. A 10 day accident, a silly toy language for the browser that is supposed to be easy.

            In reality, JavaScript is a powerful language which is deceptively simple as it implements excellent programming capabilities with very few concepts, and is malleable towards even more (e.g. you can extend it with a type system and then you can idiomatically approximate some capabilities of algebraic sum types: )

            Due to this initial simplicity and malleability, the lack of any basic libraries or facilities such as module system or object system and the fact that its the only option in the browser, many people worked on it to extend it in various different ways. As a result we ended up with several popular module systems (object based namespaces, CommonJS, AMD, ES6, the angular module system, etc) , many object/inheritance systems: plain objects, pure prototype extension, simulating classes, “composable object factories” (stampit), and so on and so forth.

            This creates dissonance with the language’s simplicity: “JS is this simple browser language that was supposed to be easy, so why is it so hard now? Why are there so many things built on top of it and how the heck do I choose which one to use? I hate it. Why do I hate it? Probably its all these silly quirks that it has! Just look at its implicit conversions and lack of any other number type than doubles”

            It doesn’t matter that many languages are much worse. A great example of the reverse phenomenon is C++. Its a complete abomination, much worse than JavaScript, but its seen as “high status”, so it has many apologists that will come to defend its broken design…

    • swampwiz0

      “broken language”. BINGO!

  • verythorough

    This same study reports Notepad++ as the most popular development environment. I wouldn’t draw any sweeping industry conclusions from this as it’s not rigorously designed.

  • Louis Cyphre

    Recently, we learned that JavaScript is actually the most complex programming language in the world!

    Despite its popularity, it has been the butt of many jokes, for example, Down the JavaScript Hole and James Mickens’ video. The IT world has been beguiled by this metastatic language.

  • Nathan James

    StackOverflow is just one metric. It may well be anomalous. It is certainly open to interpretation and critique (for example, “survey analysis hurts women”). The truth is that most other language rankings do not place JavaScript on top…

    IEEE Spectrum, which is based on 12 metrics from 10 data sources, places JavaScript at #8. PYPL puts JavaScript in #5 position. TIOBE says JavaScript is at #7. CodeEval ranks it as #6.

    And consider this: web development is the hottest technology today. JavaScript is the native language of the web browser, so if you want to develop for the web, what choice do you have? It doesn’t make JavaScript “popular.” It makes it an unfortunate necessity; you simply have to hold your nose. In truth, you do have choices:

    • I believe the VisionMobile survey of 25k developers comes to the same conclusion re: JavaScript.

  • Ann Liu

    The following article reflects my sentiments exactly: Richard
    Eng’s response to Dan Rowinski
    . Wasn’t it Benjamin Disraeli
    who said, “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and
    statistics”? While the survey is interesting, it is far from conclusive.