Currents

a seasonal report on developer and SMB trends in the cloud

Introduction

Currents is DigitalOcean’s regular report on how developers, startups, and small-to-medium-sized businesses are engaging with technology today. In this edition of Currents, we surveyed over 2,500 developers around the globe on their participation in the open source community, their job satisfaction, and the biggest challenges they face. We dug into emerging trends including serverless and low-code solutions, and examined the popularity of containerization systems and different coding languages. We looked into how factors such as years of job experience and company stage factor into technology usage, and examined how the perceptions of minority groups differ around progress in Diversity and Inclusion. 

The results demonstrate some clear trends across all developers, and some findings that differ based on company size and years of experience. Throughout our survey, one trend that comes through across respondents is the impact that the Great Resignation has had on developers. Following the Great Resignation of 2020–2021, we are now seeing a developer talent shortage, motivated largely by compensation and a desire for remote work. There is also a small but clear movement for developers to leave jobs to start their own companies, indicating that entrepreneurship is strong among this group. Those who remain at their jobs are also stretched thin, with technical debt and lack of resources as top challenges for developers today. 

Other main findings show that organizations continue to rely on open source projects for their software development, and participation in the community remains strong. Low-code and no-code solutions, which enable developers and non-developers to create applications without advanced coding skills, have garnered mixed feelings as they become more common, but Kubernetes and serverless solutions are both growing in adoption. 

Key findings:

  • The Great Resignation continues in the developer community: Over a quarter of developers who have been in the workforce for over a year started a new job in the past year, with developers at enterprises and startups changing jobs in roughly equal numbers. Additionally, 42% of those who haven’t left their jobs yet are considering or may consider leaving their current jobs this year. Both those who have already left and those considering leaving jobs are motivated by two main factors: Compensation and fully remote or flexible work environments. With an ongoing rise in inflation and the continuing COVID-19 pandemic, it’s clear companies need to offer high pay and work flexibility to retain developers.
  • Open source remains at the heart of the developer community: About half of developers reported participating in open source in the past year, slightly more than our 2021 findings. Open source software remains vital to businesses of all sizes, though smaller businesses rely on it slightly more heavily, with 35% of startups and SMBs using open source in 50% or more of their software, compared to 28% of enterprises. Despite heavy reliance on open source technologies, most developers think that companies should give more time during work hours to contribute to open source. While 78% have not been paid for their contributions to open source, a majority believe that open source contributions should be paid. When it comes to diversity and inclusion in the open source community, there has been some improvements in the past years, with 65% saying it is inclusive. However, those in minority groups are more likely to think open source is not inclusive. 
  • Developer attitudes on cloud trends can be mixed: New cloud trends can draw mixed opinions. It’s clear that containers are here to stay, with 68% reporting using containers for some projects, and the usage of serverless computing is picking up, with 44% using serverless already and 61% of that group expecting their usage to increase this year. However, opinions on low-code and no-code solutions are mixed, with developers with less years of experience being more likely to see the use of low-code, and those with more experience rating them as overhyped. Despite the rise of talk around blockchain and Web3 technologies, 67% say they don’t use blockchain or Web3 yet, showing they have more room to grow their adoption. 

Open source findings

We found that 50% of respondents participated in open source in the past year, roughly in line with our 2021 findings, which found 47% had participated in open source in the past year, and below the 63% who reported participating in open source before the COVID-19 pandemic began. Of those who participated in open source, 47% stated their participation has increased, with 46% reporting no change and only 8% reporting that their participation has decreased since the pandemic started. 

Despite the industry’s heavy reliance on open source projects and those who maintain them, most contributors and maintainers have not been paid for their work, and many developers believe that companies should be providing employees more time to contribute upstream to open source projects.

Payment and time given for open source contributions is a debated topic—while just 20% have been paid for their contributions to open source, 53% agree or strongly agree that individuals should be paid for open source contributions. Additionally, 79% agree or strongly agree that companies should give time during work hours to contribute

Diversity and inclusion in open source

Our findings suggest that inclusivity in open source has improved over the past few years, with 65% of respondents agreeing or strongly agreeing that the community is inclusive, compared to 59% who said the same in 2021 and 58% in 2020. However, of those who identify as being part of a minority group, sentiments are slightly more mixed—26%% who self-identify as a minority disagree that open source is inclusive, compared to just 12% of non-minority groups. 

Developer job trends

The Great Resignation has been much discussed in the past two years, with an estimated 44% of workers looking for new jobs according to some reports. Technology companies are experiencing the same phenomenon, particularly among developers, who are highly in demand. This has led to a developer talent shortage even in large companies and reports of burnout for those who remain. 

Our survey found that over a quarter (27%) of developers with more than a year of experience have started a new job in the past year. While those with fewer years of experience are most likely to be shifting jobs, one in five developers with 15 years or more experience have also started a new job in the past year. In addition, 42% of those who haven’t left their job say they are considering leaving or may consider leaving this year.

Motivations to leave jobs

Motivations for leaving jobs are consistent among both those who have already left and those considering leaving, with compensation, remote or flexible work environments, and better benefits being the top factors that motivate people to leave jobs, especially for younger developers. We also find that 8% of both those who have left a job and those who are looking to leave have left to start their own company, demonstrating the flexibility that developers have today.

Emerging trends

We also examined popular programming languages and developers’ perceptions of upcoming trends, finding that perceptions of many trends differ based on years of experience, with less experienced developers more likely to try out new trends in computing such as automation, blockchain/Web3, and low-code or no-code. 

Popular programming languages

Looking at popular programming languages, we found that Python (21%) and JavaScript (17%) are the most popular languages, followed by PHP (14%), TypeScript (9%), and Java (9%). While Python is popular with developers of all experience levels, JavaScript and C++ are more popular with less experienced developers. PHP is less popular with newer developers, but remains popular among those with more than 6 years of experience. 

Containers and serverless usage

Containers and container orchestration systems continue their rise in usage, with 68% of respondents using containers for some projects, and 69% of those using containers expecting their usage to increase in the next year. Additionally, 47% say their usage of Kubernetes specifically will increase this year. Of those not already using containers, 22% believe they will start using container technology this year. 

Serverless computing, a newer technology that minimizes server management and enables users to focus only on code, is also rising in popularity, though is less widespread than containers. We find that 43% of respondents are using serverless technology, and of those using it 61% expect their usage to continue to increase. However, those not using serverless are less sure if they will adopt it, with only 9% predicting they will start using serverless this year and 39% stating they are not sure if they will adopt serverless. 

No-code/low-code, blockchain, and AI/ML

Developers have mixed opinions and usage of other emerging technologies, including automation (AI/ML), blockchain and Web3, and no-code or low-code tools. Fifty-seven percent of respondents have used automation tools and 41% of respondents believe their usage of automation will increase this year, while 43% don’t use automation at all. Although blockchain and Web3 have been discussed widely, 67% say they don’t use blockchain or Web3 technology. 

Low-code and no-code tools have gained popularity among developers looking to focus more on application innovation and less on specific software code, however we found opinions of these tools varied widely. In total, 21% stated that low-code/no-code tools are over-hyped, but 12% mention that they make their jobs easier. These opinions differed clearly by years of experience, with developers with fewer years of experience being much more likely to find low-code and no-code tools helpful, and those with more than 15 years of experience the most likely to think they are overhyped. 

Methodology

This survey was conducted through an online survey link from April 19, 2022, to May 19, 2022, and garnered 2,598 completed responses. The link was distributed to various sample sources, including DigitalOcean email lists and open source groups. Respondents all identified as having technical roles, including frontend, backend, and full-stack developers, system administrators, DevOps specialists, and more. Those without technical roles were screened out of the survey. 

Respondents represent 94 countries, with 43% coming from the United States, 15% from India, 6% from Germany, 3% from Canada, and 3% from the UK, and the remaining 30% spread between other countries. The gender breakdown was 87% male, 8% female, 1% non-binary, and 4% who preferred not to say or preferred to self-describe. Respondents represent a range of ages, with 32% of respondents being 25–34, 25% ages 35–44, 21% under 24, and 22% 45 or older.

To download the full report, which includes additional findings and breakdowns, please download the full report here.

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