Owen is a senior editor at ZDNet. Based in London, UK, Owen covers software development, IT workforce trends and the evolution of tech and work.Full Bioon | Topic: Developer
Software development is competitive, and as more companies begin exploring the potential of new technologies, it pays to stay ahead of the curve when it comes to knowing the types of applications that are in demand.
Fortunately, developers are pretty on the pulse when it comes to knowing the direction in which tech is headed – it's part of their job, after all – and so knowing what developers are researching can be a good indicator of what's hot and what's not: handy if you're a budding coder looking to bring your knowledge up-to-speed.
Special FeatureSoftware development: Emerging trends and changing rolesZDNet takes an in-depth look at key trends in software development and how developers are changing the tech industry.
Helpfully, SlashData's 2022 State of the Developer Survey offers some insights into what is currently commanding the attention of the world's software developers. According to its survey of 20,000+ coders, blockchain applications, cryptocurrencies, and NFTs have the highest share of developers learning about them.
SEE: The Future of Money: Where blockchain and cryptocurrency will take us next
Just over a third (34%) of developers surveyed said they were learning about cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin – hardly surprising, as the adoption of digital currencies continues to grow worldwide. Sixteen percent (16%) said they were actively working on crypto-related projects.
The money-making potential of NFTs (non-fungible tokens), another "crypto-adjacent' technology, has also not gone unnoticed by developers: 11% of them are currently working on the technology, with SlashData calling it "a potentially profitable niche for those who do get involved." Nearly a third (32%) of the developers surveyed by SlashData said they are brushing up on their NFT knowledge.
Likewise, 30% of developers are learning about blockchain applications other than cryptocurrencies. SlashData found that interest in blockchain applications and cryptocurrencies has increased the most of any technology, even though the adoption of blockchain applications among developers has stagnated compared to a year ago. Just 12% of developers are currently working on blockchain projects, the report found, which is just 1% higher than SlashData's Q1 2021 report.
These three crypto-adjacent technologies had the highest high adoption and learning rates among all the technologies included in SlashData's report – for each one, at least 30% of engaged developers were actively learning about the technologies. The next most popular technologies were the metaverse and AI-assisted software development: 28% of developers are learning about these technologies.
SlashData's State of the Developer Nation 2022 report quizzed respondents from 166 countries around the world, covering developer communities across mobile, desktop, industrial IoT, consumer electronics, embedded, third-party app ecosystems, cloud, web, game, augmented and virtual reality, and machine learning and data science.
The report also offered some key insights into the use and popularity of various programming languages, as well as the tools that developers are using in their day-to-day work.
SEE: Developer jobs and programming languages: What's hot and what's next
Rust, meanwhile, has nearly tripled in size in the past 24 months, from just 600,000 developers in Q1 2020 to 2.2 million in Q1 2022. Go and Ruby are important languages in backend development but Go has grown more than twice as fast in the past year in absolute terms, SlashData found.
"Rust has formed a very strong community of developers who care about performance, memory safety, and security," the report said. "As a result, it is mostly used in IoT software projects but also in AR/VR development, most commonly for implementing the low-level core logic of AR/VR application."
The more niche languages – Go, Ruby, Dart, and Lua – are still much smaller, with up to 3.3 million active software developers each.