Developer

Why developers are so divided on the tech they love and the tech they hate

According to new survey data from Stack Overflow, developer are strangely binary about the technologies and tools that they use. Here's some of the tech they loved and the tech they loathed.

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Image: iStockphoto/Rawpixel Ltd

Ask a developer her most loved technology and she's likely to tell you, "React," the popular framework for developing applications. But ask another developer which technology he most despises and the answer is likely to be, again, "React."

However, we needn't guess at developers' loves and hates. The Stack Overflow folks recently surveyed over 64,000 developers to better understand the technology they use...sometimes under duress.

She loves me, she loves me not

One thing that becomes clear in the survey results is that there's very little middle ground with developers. For example, take a look at the most loathed technologies, those technologies that developers dread:

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Stack Overflow

The first two technologies relate to hybrid mobile apps, and their presence isn't surprising given the continued rise of native development for mobile apps. Contrarily, as Redmonk analyst Stephen O'Grady called out in Redmonk's most recent programming languages rankings, "Swift [used for developing iOS and macOS apps] has reached a top 15 ranking faster than any other language we have tracked."

SEE: Developers are pragmatic, not religious, about software (TechRepublic)

Others, however, are harder to fathom. After all, the same technologies score nearly as high on the "love" list as they do on the "loathe" report:

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Stack Overflow

Everybody hates Hadoop, right? Well, it's true that 51.2% of those developers surveyed apparently break out into boils at the mere sound of the big data icon. Yet it's also true that the remaining 48.8% want to name their firstborn child after Hadoop. The same is true of Hadoop's speedier kissing cousin, Spark. Roughly 40% hate it; the other 60% adore it.

I love to hate you

As mentioned, the same technologies that people most despise also make the top-10 list for most loved. Perhaps the survey didn't allow for shades of gray, but the survey results certainly seem to suggest a highly binary, love-it-or-hate-it approach to technology. As Red Hat's Federico Lucifredi told me, "You must have users first to also have detractors!"

SEE: 10 bad habits to break if you want to become a great developer (TechRepublic)

It's a good reminder: If it's not a good enough technology to justify a following, it's almost certainly not a good enough technology to merit a critic. The best technology gathers the best feedback, both positive and negative.

That said, it's definitely preferable to have more lovers than detractors. For example, in database land it's better to be Redis (65% love, 35% dread) or Postgres (61% love, 39% dread), rather than Oracle (63% dread, 37% love) or SQLite (53% dread, 47% love). Those sailing on Larry Ellison's yacht, however, may beg to differ with developer opinions. Still, betting against developer interests is a losing long-term strategy.

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About Matt Asay

Matt Asay is a veteran technology columnist who has written for CNET, ReadWrite, and other tech media. Asay has also held a variety of executive roles with leading mobile and big data software companies.

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