Software

Developer tools: The hottest new tech and biggest flops

The winners and losers in the programming world as revealed by Stack Overflow, in its analysis of the technologies that have seen the "most dramatic" increase and decrease in developer interest.

The software development world is nothing if not fast-moving: with coders typically relying on a scrum of competing frameworks and libraries jostling to be the next big thing.

The current winners and losers in the programming world have been revealed by Stack Overflow, in its analysis of which technologies have seen the "most dramatic" increase and decrease in developer interest in any single year since the site was launched in 2008. The analysis has sizeable data to back it up, with Stack Overflow looking at visits to topics by its community of more than 50 million developers.

The losers

Perhaps the most surprising entry on the list of rapidly declining tech was the JavaScript framework Backbone.js. Launched in 2010, at one time it had a healthy following, with companies like Airbnb and Verizon using it to help build web apps. However, as Stack Overflow data scientist Julia Silge points out, surviving in the fast-moving and crowded market for JavaScript frameworks is particularly tough, especially where massively popular libraries like React and frameworks like AngularJS are sucking all of the oxygen out of the room.

SEE: Hiring kit: Python developer (Tech Pro Research)

Elsewhere, the technologies slipping into irrelevance were a mix of technologies such as Microsoft's deprecated Silverlight web framework for playing video and animations, the Flex framework for the soon-to-be defunct Adobe Flash software platform and the mobile backend developer platform Parse, which Facebook announced it was shutting down last year. Another piece of tech that Stack Overflow highlights as undergoing notable decline is the game engine Cocos2d for iPhone.

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Image: Stack Overflow

The winners

On the flipside, both Apple's Swift language for developing iOS apps and the JavaScript framework Angular have been flying high for a number of years.

"Both of these technologies grew incredibly fast to have a big impact because they were natural next steps for existing developer communities," writes Silge.

Other topics demonstrated what Stack Overflow calls "modest year-over-year growth" but still enough to warrant a place on the list on fastest movers. These include Android Studio, an IDE targeted to mobile developers that was released in 2013 and grew immediately in popularity, and the machine-learning library TensorFlow, which since it was open-sourced by Google in 2015 has enjoyed "remarkable success", according to Silge.

Less surprising, given the publicity surrounding its launch, was the explosion in interest in questions related to the Apple iPad around the time it went on sale in 2010.

increase-in-stack-overflow-technologies-e1510156809797.png
Image: Stack Overflow

Away from the extreme rises and falls, there are also dependable technologies that have continued to demonstrate good growth year after year, with Stack Overflow highlighting the web programming language TypeScript, the JavaScript programming platform Meteor, the machine-learning library Pandas and the game engine Unity.

The analysis looked at which Stack Overflow tags with at least 10,000 questions had the highest percentage change in interest year-on-year in any single year since the site's launch.

Also see

About Nick Heath

Nick Heath is chief reporter for TechRepublic. He writes about the technology that IT decision makers need to know about, and the latest happenings in the European tech scene.

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