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2019 Engineering Productivity Stack overflow

Engineering Survey Results 2019 from Stack Overflow

June 23, 2019

Stack Overflow’s annual Engineering Survey is the largest and most comprehensive survey of people who code around the world. Each year, they field a survey covering everything from engineers’ favourite technologies. This year marks the ninth year they published the annual Engineers Survey results, and nearly 90,000 engineers took the 20-minute survey.

Compared with last year survey, where they had more questions regarding the productivity of the engineers, like what version control is most used and the dynamics of the teams this year was more simplified with direct questions like:

  • How Structured Is the Work of Engineers?
  • Greatest Challenges to Productivity
  • Weighting Productivity Challenges in the US
  • Code Review
  • Unit Tests
  • Music for Focus While Coding

But, let’s do a show summary with last year survey engineering survey results.

What version control do you use?

Git is the dominant choice for version control for engineers today, with almost 90% of engineers checking in their code via Git.

git stack overflow version control

How Often Do Engineers Check In Code?

The majority of engineers check in code multiple times per day. Professional engineers are less likely to check in code rarely or never.

check in code produtivity

Which Methodologies Do Engineers Use?

Agile and Scrum are popular methodologies for engineers to keep their projects on track.

engineers methodology productivity

But, let’s look at the data from 2019, here are a few of the top takeaways from this year’s results.

  • Python, the fastest-growing major programming language, has risen in the ranks of programming languages in our survey yet again, edging out Java this year and standing as the second most loved language (behind Rust).
  • Over half of respondents had written their first line of code by the time they were sixteen, although this experience varies by country and by gender.
  • DevOps specialists and site reliability engineers are among the highest paid, most experienced engineers most satisfied with their jobs, and are looking for new jobs at the lowest levels.
  • Of the top countries in our survey, China has engineers that are the most optimistic, believing that people born today will have a better life than their parents. Engineers in Western European countries like France and Germany are among the least optimistic about the future.
  • When thinking about blockers to productivity, different kinds of engineers report different challenges. Men are more likely to say that being tasked with non-development work is a problem for them, while gender minority respondents are more likely to say that toxic work environments are a problem.
  • We asked respondents to think about the last time they solved coding problems with and without our site. The data indicate that Stack Overflow saves a developer 30 to 90 minutes of time per week!

Developer Type

About 50% of respondents identify as full-stack engineers, and about 17% consider themselves mobile engineers. The median number of developer type identifications per respondent this year is 3, and the most common pairs are combinations of back-end, front-end, and full-stack developer. Pairs that are highly correlated include database administrator and system administrator, DevOps specialist and site reliability engineer, academic researcher and scientist, and designer and front-end developer.

Survey weighting is an approach used to analyze survey data when the survey sample doesn’t match the underlying population well. For example, in our survey this year, 11% of US respondents identify as women, but data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that women’s participation in the software developer workforce is about twice that, more like 20%. We can use survey weighting to adjust for the mismatch between our survey sample and the population of engineers. We know that there is a difference in developer type representation by gender, so let’s compare the overall proportions in our raw results for the United States with weighted proportions, assuming that we undersampled gender minorities at the rate indicated by the BLS report. When we use weighting, we see small increases in the representation of developer roles that have the most representation from women, like designers, and decreases in others with low representation from women, like DevOps.

We know there are more ways in which our survey sample doesn’t match the underlying population of engineers than only gender (including frequency of use of Stack Overflow), and the United States is not the only country for which we expect such a mismatch. The reason we’re using this specific example of weighting here is that it is one where we know we have systemic sampling issues and we have an estimate about the expected population proportion. We can demonstrate the effect of our survey sample on our results, both in direction and magnitude.


We asked our respondents about their gender identity, and found that about globally 90% of our respondents are men. In regions including the United States, India, and the UK, women are represented at higher levels among students than among professional engineers.

This year 11% of US survey respondents are women, up from 9% on last year’s survey. This represents incremental improvement in this area, but the continued low proportion points to problems with inclusion in the tech industry in general and on Stack Overflow in particular.

This year, 1.2% of respondents identified as transgender, about double from last year. The gender identification question allowed respondents to select all that apply, and the question about transgender identity was separate from the question about gender identity.

Social Media Use

We asked our respondents this year what social media site they use the most, and Reddit and YouTube were the most common answers. Engineers’ preferences aren’t reflective of the most popular social media platforms in the world where Facebook ranks first and Reddit doesn’t even crack the top 10. (Reddit has about 330 million active users compared to Facebook’s 2.32 billion monthly users.)

When we look in the United States, the situation is a little different. Twitter and Facebook are ranked higher. Notice that the United States result weighted by gender exhibits some interesting differences from the unweighted result; Instagram even gains a full rank.

What Individual Person Will Have the Most Influence In Tech This Year?

We asked respondents what person they thought would be most influential in 2019 in a free-text field. Besides CEOs of companies including Tesla, Amazon, Microsoft, Google, Facebook, and Apple, respondents mentioned engineers building and maintaining React.js and Vue.js (the most loved web frameworks this year), along with leaders from the Linux world and other tech domains. A few world leaders received mentions from respondents, along with a fair number of humble respondents nominating…themselves! Some individuals mentioned here are likely not viewed favorably by those who listed them, such as the current chairman of the United States Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Only one woman made it to the top 25 of this list: Lisa Su, the CEO of AMD.

Most Popular Engineers Environments

Visual Studio Code is a dominant player among developer environment tools this year. There are differences in tool choices by developer type and role, but Visual Studio Code was a top choice across the board. Engineers who write code for mobile apps are more likely to choose Android Studio and Xcode. A popular choice for DevOps and SREs is Vim, and data scientists are more likely to work in IPython/Jupyter, PyCharm, and RStudio.

Engineers’ Primary Operating Systems

We asked our respondents what operating systems they use for work. About half said they mainly use Windows, and the remainder were about evenly split between MacOS and Linux.

How Confident Are ENGINEERS in Their Managers?

engineers trus in managers

Engineering management is a technical discipline that impacts engineers and the work that they do every day. Fortunately, over 80% of respondents are somewhat or very confident that their manager knows what they’re doing.

Do Engineers Want To Become Managers in the Future?

Respondents are evenly divided about their own plans for such a career change, with no single response dominating. Those who say they do not want to be a manager have more years of experience than those who do, with twice as many years of professional coding experience. Engineers who are interested today in entering a management path likely have such a career path ahead of them, or perhaps some will change their mind!

Where Do engineers Want to Work?

engineers work in office

Almost 60% of developers say they prefer to work in an office, while over 30% (close to 40% in the United States) would prefer to work at their own homes.

Greatest Challenges to Productivity

productivity engineers

When asked what their greatest challenges to productivity are, engineers’ most common responses include a distracting work environment and meetings. Gender minority respondents are less likely to say that being tasked with non-development work is a problem for them, and more likely to say that toxic work environments are.

*The survey was fielded from January 23 to February 14.

*The median time spent on the survey for qualified responses was 23.3 minutes.


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