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Developers favour AI tools but lack trust in accuracy

AI

Increasing productivity is the No 1 benefit of using AI tools as part of a development workflow, a new report finds. The Stack Overflow 2023 Developer Survey received 90,000 responses across 185 countries and found that 70 per cent of professional full-stack developers, respondents already using or planning to use AI tools in their development process.

Seventy-seven per cent of respondents feel favourable towards using AI tools as part of their development workflow – but we do see some differences between groups. 33 per cent of respondents said increasing productivity is the most important benefit of using AI tools as part of a development workflow, however, only 42 per cent trust the accuracy of the output of AI tools used in their development workflow.

In terms of tools they are currently experimenting with, 83 per cent of developers indicated they have worked with ChatGPT as an AI Search Tool, and GitHub Copilot was easily the most worked with AI Developer tool this year with 44 per cent of respondents indicating they have worked with it and 78 per cent indicating they want to work with it next year.

“Previous surveys showed the learnings and impact of the rise of remote and hybrid work, we are now seeing those same respondents embrace opportunities to intentionally leverage generative AI and automation in their everyday work flows to increase their productivity and speed of learning in this next phase of technology evolution,” said Khalid El Khatib, Chief Marketing Officer at Stack Overflow.

“In a smaller survey conducted in March 2023, we found that developers were equal parts curious and sceptical about AI. With our 2023 Developer Survey, fielded just a few months later, we see that perception is still holding – however it is clear that curiosity is starting to outweigh the scepticism. The developer community can play a crucial role in how AI accelerates, ultimately helping with the accuracy and quality coming out of GenAI offerings – and in that, further improving the modern tech landscape as we know it.”

Use of AI/Machine learning

Professional developers from India, Brazil, and Poland are most likely to use or plan on using AI tools as part of their development workflow. UK, France, US, and German developers are more likely to say they don’t plan on using AI tools.

For professional developers, they see the biggest benefit of using AI tools as part of their workflow as increasing productivity (37.4 per cent), with secondary benefits of greater efficiency (27.9 per cent) and speeding up learning (27.4 per cent).

For developers learning to code, they see the biggest benefits of using AI tools as part of their workflow as speeding up learning (42.4 per cent) and increasing productivity (41.5 per cent), with a secondary benefit of greater efficiency (33.7 per cent).

With more than 50 questions this year about 370 different technologies, the annual Developer Survey dived into a lot more than just AI as it polled the developer community. In terms of key takeaways from the larger tech landscape, we also learned about their favourite languages, databases, cloud platforms and more: 

Developers from more than 185 countries participated with the top 10 responding countries being the United States, Germany, India, UK/Northern Ireland, Canada, France, Poland, Netherlands, Australia and Brazil. 

AWS remains the most used cloud platform for all respondents. AWS handily makes it to the top spot at 52.7 per cent  with almost double as many respondents who selected Azure – the second most used cloud platform. People learning to code are still using AWS (26 per cent) the most but it is much more at parity amongst their top 3 cloud platforms (26 per centGoogle Cloud and 25 per cent Firebase).

This year, Docker is the top used other tool amongst all respondents (53 per cent) rising from its second place spot last year.

JavaScript’s streak continues, as for the eleventh year in a row, it is selected as the most commonly used programming language. Python has overtaken SQL as the #3 top language developers have worked with this year. Rust, GO, and Kotlin stand out as languages that more developers want to work with than have worked with. Python, Rust, Go, PowerShell, Ruby, C++ and C all show an increase in percentage of users having worked with them in 2023 versus 2022.

In databases, PostgreSQL took over the first place spot from MySQL. Professional developers are more likely than those learning to code to use PostgreSQL (50 per cent) and those learning are more likely to use MySQL (54 per cent). MongoDB is used more by those learning to code than professional developers (33 per cent vs. 26 per cent) and it’s the second most popular database for those learning to code (behind MySQL). 

The three most popular synchronous tools are universal for all respondents are Microsoft Teams, Slack, and Zoom. Zoom was top of the list last year but is third place this year with 10 per cent less people having worked with it in the past year. For those learning, Discord and WhatsApp are used more than any of the top three (70 per cent and 45 per cent respectively).

“For nearly 15 years, Stack Overflow has been a top destination for technologists to solve problems. The problems they were solving for in 2008 are not the ones they’re solving for in 2023. This survey is a reflection of the trust and validation our community gets by sharing insights with their peers,” said Prashanth Chandrasekar, CEO at Stack Overflow.

“There is no doubt that generative AI will democratize coding and grow the developer community by several folds. The quality of the data feeding those systems is what will ultimately determine the success or failure of this ground-breaking technology. We are focused on ensuring our growing community has access to highly trusted knowledge as they solve key technology problems. The future of the modern tech landscape – will be about quality of data, trust in the accuracy of data, and the communities of experts and human beings curating that data. Stack Overflow will play a key role in the intersection of AI and Community.” 

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