Programming languages: JavaScript developers reveal their favorite tools

A new analysis has shed light on the technologies developers are using to help them build web and native apps with JavaScript.

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JavaScript has been the world's most popular programming language for years, but what are developers doing with it and which tools are they using?

A new analysis has shed light on the technologies developers are using to help them build web and native apps with JavaScript.

The analysis is based on data from the annual Stack Overflow survey, one of the most comprehensive snapshots of how programmers work, with this year's poll being taken by almost 90,000 developers across the globe. The data was parsed with the help of a tool provided by Count.

What is JavaScript used for?

The majority of developers using JavaScript as their primary language describe themselves as full-stack developers, which typically means a developer capable of working with front-end technologies — developing apps that run in the browser or on native platforms — and back-end technologies — those running on servers, including databases. 

Interestingly, given JavaScript's origins as a web browser scripting language, more JavaScript developers describe themselves as back-end developers than front-end, possibly a reflection on the increasing use of Node.js as a server-side JavaScript runtime. 

SEE: How to build a successful developer career (free PDF) (TechRepublic)    

JavaScript is also no longer restricted to the web, thanks to the rise of frameworks such as Electron for creating desktop apps and React Native for creating mobile apps. The multi-platform nature of modern JavaScript is reflected in the figures, with desktop/enterprise app developer and mobile developer being the next most common role.  

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Image: Stack Overflow / Count / Nick Heath

What are JavaScript developers most popular web frameworks?

Despite JQuery being yesterday's framework to an extent, used to paper over the cracks in the capabilities of native JavaScript that have since been largely addressed, it's by far the most popular web framework for JavaScript developers, unsurprising given its widespread use by web developers over the years.

Not far behind are a series of frameworks for building web apps, with Facebook's popular React.js and Google's Angular close in popularity, followed by the server-side web app framework ASP.NET and the Node.js web app framework Express.js.

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Image: Stack Overflow / Count / Nick Heath

What are JavaScript developers most popular IDEs and code editors?

Microsoft rules the roost when it comes to JavaScript developers favorite Integrated Development Environments (IDEs) and code editors, with Visual Studio and its streamlined brother Visual Studio Code topping the list. Their dominance is perhaps unsurprising, given Microsoft's JavaScript spin-off TypeScript is favored by a growing number of JavaScript developers for creating larger and more complex code bases.The other IDE favored is NetBeans' IntelliJ IDEA, whose Ultimate edition provides tools for working with JavaScript, TypeScript and the React and Angular frameworks.

Elsewhere in the top five, JavaScript developers seem to prefer simpler but extensible code editors, such as Notepad++ and Sublime Text.

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Image: Stack Overflow / Count / Nick Heath

What are JavaScript developers most popular databases?

The old web favorite MySQL still tops JavaScript developers list of databases, followed by the versatile PostgreSQL, the longstanding Microsoft SQL Server, the fast SQLite, and the document-based distributed database MongoDB.  

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Image: Stack Overflow / Count / Nick Heath

Which platforms do JavaScript developers work with?

For platform worked with, developers were asked which platforms they've done extensive work for over the past year. Given the open nature of the question, the answers are broad and a bit messy, mixing together operating systems with cloud computing platforms.

Regardless, Linux-based operating systems topped the list, followed by Microsoft's Windows OS, the container platform Docker, the public cloud computing platform AWS, and Google's mobile OS Android.

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Image: Stack Overflow / Count / Nick Heath

Which frameworks, libraries and tools do JavaScript developers use?

When it comes to miscellaneous tech JavaScript developers work with, there's still a web-focus at the top, with JavaScript devs most commonly working with the server-side JavaScript environment Node.js, Microsoft's .NET and .NET Core platforms, the React Native JavaScript library for building iOS and Android apps, and the Unity 3D cross-platform game engine.

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Image: Stack Overflow / Count / Nick Heath

To find out more about the popular JavaScript spin-off language TypeScript, read TechRepublic's round-up of the best free resources for learning the language online.

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