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The annual Nitor developer survey reveals the top technologies and trends of 2021

Published in Analytics, Technology

Written by

Joakim Gunst
Senior Software Developer

Joakim Gunst is a versatile software developer with over ten years of professional experience. He most enjoys working on the front end, crafting user interfaces that are beautiful, intuitive, fast, and accessible.

Article

February 28, 2022 · 6 min read time

For the second year in a row, we asked Nitoreans what technologies they use, like, and are interested in. About two-thirds of developers and architects responded to the survey. Read on to learn about the top choices and the most significant changes since last year.

We asked Nitoreans which technologies they had used significantly during the previous year. Additionally, you could select that you like or dislike a used technology or are interested in one you have not used. The technologies were divided into languages, backend frameworks, frontend frameworks, mobile, databases, editors, cloud platforms, CI tools, and deployment and infrastructure tools.

Languages

The first category includes programming and query languages. JavaScript is still number one and the most used technology overall in the survey. SQL has seen a big +13 percentage point (pp) increase in use and has jumped ahead of Java and TypeScript to second place. TypeScript is still one of the most liked technologies in the survey. 

Next, we have Node.js, followed by Python, shell scripts, Kotlin, and GraphQL, all with significant increases in usage. Kotlin, in particular, has seen a jump of +11 pp and is highly liked. Clojure is the most used functional programming language. 

Nitor developer survey 2021 – language results

The languages most Nitoreans are interested in learning or using are, in order: GraphQL, Go, Rust, WebAssembly, Clojure, and Kotlin. Interest in all of these has grown significantly this year, most of all in Go (+21 pp). This is likely to predict future growth.

Backend frameworks

Among backend frameworks, Spring and Express are still the two big ones. In third place, we have nFlow, an open-source workflow management framework created by Nitor. Apollo Server is also popular as the number one GraphQL server framework. 

Nitor developer survey 2021 – backend results

.NET comes next, and although use is low compared to Spring and Express, users are very satisfied with it. Among alternative JVM frameworks, Ktor for Kotlin and Vert.x are next, both highly liked and with some amount of interest. These might be slowly eating away at Spring's popularity. Django has bypassed Flask as the number one Python framework.

Frontend frameworks

React is still the most used frontend framework and highly liked, although use has decreased significantly (-11 pp) since the previous year. Angular has seen increased use but is disliked and not interesting. Vue.js has also grown and has the highest interest in the category; it might be trending upwards.

Among other React competitors, re-frame is the preferred choice for ClojureScript, Preact is disliked, and Svelte is marginal. Based on the results, it seems unlikely anything will replace React in the next several years. 

Nitor developer survey 2021 – frontend results

Create React App (CRA), Next.js and Gatsby are popular approaches to building React apps, all with increased use since last year. Remix, a newly open-sourced React framework, has some interest but no use yet.

Mobile

In mobile, native Android has bypassed React Native to become the most used approach. Android has also gained a lot of satisfaction and interest during the year. Native iOS comes next and is also well-liked. 

Nitor developer survey 2021 – mobile results

Flutter, a cross-platform framework like React Native, has the highest interest in the category but is polarizing among its users. Generally speaking, mobile development is significantly less common than web development at Nitor, but there is a lot of interest in it, and interest is growing.

Databases

Database use has been relatively stable. The most used database is still PostgreSQL. It is highly liked, so it will probably remain the primary relational database for the foreseeable future. Next, we have Aurora, DynamoDB, MySQL, Elasticsearch, and Redis. 

Nitor developer survey 2021 – databases results

The only significant change is Oracle Database, which has gone up by 16 pp, the second-biggest increase among all technologies. It is the most disliked and least interesting database, so don't count on further growth. The databases with the highest interest are, in order, Elasticsearch, Redis, DynamoDB, and MongoDB. All four have seen significantly increased interest since last year.

Editors

This year, Visual Studio Code use has grown, and IntelliJ IDEA has shrunk. They are now at the same level. Both are among the top four most liked technologies overall, so they will likely stay as the two top choices for many years. 

Nitor developer survey 2021 – editors results

Vim is the most used among more traditional text editors, although it has a significant share of dissatisfied users. PyCharm is the most popular Python IDE, and Android Studio and Xcode are used for mobile development.

Cloud platforms

AWS use has gone up significantly (+10 pp), making it even more clearly the number one cloud platform at Nitor. Azure use has not changed, and satisfaction is a bit lower than AWS, but there is still quite a bit of interest. 

Nitor developer survey 2021 – cloud results

Google Cloud is third, not far behind Azure. It has the highest interest among non-language technologies and similar satisfaction to AWS. It might overtake Azure in second place soon. I would also highlight Vercel, a frontend-focused platform that is very well-liked, although usage is still relatively low.

Continuous integration

In this category, Jenkins is still first but slowly declining in both use and satisfaction, while GitHub Actions and GitLab CI are both rising. GitHub Actions saw use increase by 18 pp, the biggest gain among all technologies in the survey. It's also one of the most liked technologies overall and has the highest interest among CI tools. AWS CodeBuild has almost as much interest but is more disliked. Travis CI is the most disliked in the category.

Nitor developer survey 2021 – CI results

Deployment and infrastructure

Docker is most used in this category. AWS CloudFormation is second, although it is disliked, which might motivate the growth of alternatives. AWS CDK, Terraform, and Kubernetes all have increased both usage and interest since last year. Kubernetes has the highest interest in the category, even though the satisfaction is not so high. 

Nitor developer survey 2021 – DI results

Conclusion

The most common stack at Nitor has not changed since last year. It uses TypeScript with React on the frontend, Java with Spring on the backend, runs in Docker containers in AWS, has a PostgreSQL database, and uses Jenkins for CI. TypeScript and React are the two most liked (non-editor) technologies, so they are unlikely to be challenged soon. On the backend and among DevOps tools, the situation is more competitive.

To conclude, here are my three technologies of the year:

My first pick is Kotlin, which is increasingly used for mobile development with Android and as an alternative to Java and other languages on the server. Kotlin is the second-most-liked language after TypeScript and has seen the fourth-highest increase in use. It's also among the technologies with the highest interest.

The second pick is GraphQL, a query language for APIs that provides a superior alternative to REST for many use cases. Although its growth has been moderate and satisfaction is average, GraphQL has seen the second-highest increase in interest to become the most interesting technology in the survey.

My final pick is GitHub Actions, the CI/CD and automation platform built into GitHub. It's one of the most liked technologies and has seen the highest increase in use in this year's survey, so it looks like it has the potential to replace Jenkins in the top spot in a few years.

Written by

Joakim Gunst
Senior Software Developer

Joakim Gunst is a versatile software developer with over ten years of professional experience. He most enjoys working on the front end, crafting user interfaces that are beautiful, intuitive, fast, and accessible.