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Feb 07, 2020 newsletter

How JetBrains and Kotlin can take over Java

JVM survey

Snyk, creator of popular developer security tools, released its annual JVM Ecosystem Report for 2020 that surveyed 2,000 Java developers. Here are the main takeaways you need to know:

Kotlin is growing fast. Kotlin, a new language created by JetBrains based on the JVM, grew 130% over the last year. It is now used by 5.5% of JVM developers and has surpassed both Clojure and Scala, other JVM languages that have been around for more than a decade.

Developers still overwhelmingly use Java as their main JVM language—87% of developers still prefer plain Java. But with Google’s endorsement of Kotlin for Android development, expect Kotlin to continue its rapid pace of growth and expect it to play a larger role in rejuvenating the Java community.

Java could move faster. Many developers don’t want to upgrade their Java tools.

When asked why they have not moved to more recent JDK versions, 27% of developers said that there are no features in newer versions that they need, 51% said their current setup works “just fine,” and 32% believed the cost of migration is too high.

That’s also why 64% of developers are still using Java 8 and just 25% are now using Java 11. All other versions sit at less than 5% usage each.

JetBrains is a behemoth that will play a bigger role in Java’s future. JetBrains, a Czech Republic based developer tools company, continues to dominate the Java IDE space.

In 2018, roughly 45% of Java developers used IntelliJ and 38% used Eclipse. Today, 62% use IntelliJ and just 20% use Eclipse. Nearly 48% of developers pay for IntelliJ Ultimate. At that rate, IntelliJ is poised to capture the vast majority of the Java IDE market.

Combine its work on IntelliJ with its work on Kotlin, and JetBrains controls a sizable portion of the Java software supply chain.

It’s beginning to pay off, too. JetBrains has not raised any venture funding since its founding in 2000, posted revenue north of $270M, and boasts more than 6M users.

What’s next? While many developers have flocked to Python and JavaScript, Java remains a popular language that powers much of the world’s software. Developers should continue to rely on even more innovation from influential players in the Java ecosystem.


Why 10x developers are elusive

Developer productivity

A new study from the Carnegie Mellon Software Engineering Institute argues that identifying high performing 10x developers is far more challenging and inconclusive than other studies suggest.

Origin of the 10x developer: A 10x developer is an engineer who is so productive that they exert an outsized influence on an organization's success.

The oft-cited original research that uncovered large variations in developer productivity dates back to 1968 in a study conducted by three researchers at the System Development Corporation. It found that some developers performed 10 times better than the worst performers at certain development tasks.

A new study: In an updated study from Carnegie Mellon, researchers looked at how developers performed across a series of tasks. Students were asked to complete ten coding assignments in the same language that spanned many parts of development—including implementation, design, and testing.

Findings: Clearly identifying high-performing developers is incredibly complex because individual performance depends heavily on the coding task. From the study:

"While average performance differs between programmers, only half the variation in program-development effort can be attributed to inherent programmer skill; the other half is within the individual developer's day-to-day variation. That is, the programmers differ from themselves as much as they differ from other members of the group."

Researchers found that while developer performance varies significantly when comparing developers working on specific assignments, much of that performance spread actually diminishes when considering an entire body of work. Developers were very unlikely to be consistently exceptional at every coding task in a project.

What’s the takeaway? As with any profession, some developers are better and faster at coding than others. According to new research, the magnitude of differences between developers may be exaggerated or difficult to reliably predict.

Engineering teams may be better off training capable developers, rather than trying to hunt down an elusive top programmer.


Mining the API gold rush

API gold rush

Stoplight, an API design management platform, raised $6M as API-driven development continues to bring new opportunities to software development. It is the latest entrant in a quickly growing market for developer API tools.

What does Stoplight build? Stoplight offers Studio, a free standalone API editor that makes it easy to prototype and share an API during development.

In addition to Studio, Stoplight offers Prism, an HTTP mock and proxy server to accelerate API development, and Spectral, and open source JSON and YAML linter to improve the quality of API descriptions.

Changing development needs are fueling an API gold rush. Stoplight is not alone. Postman, which raised $50M last year, similarly provides developers with a free collaboration platform for API development.

Tools like Postman and Stoplight are increasingly important for software development teams due to the rise of microservices, serverless architecture, and the internet of things. With many fragmented services and devices trying to communicate with each other, developers must design and implement APIs to connect them.

All those APIs need to be managed. Developers are spending more time on API management. More than 60% of respondents in a Postman survey revealed that they spend more than 10 hours per week—about a fourth of a typical work week—working with APIs.

With so many developers working on different APIs, tools like Spotlight can help engineering teams better enforce consistency across APIs and encourage greater collaboration.

The future: As API-driven development accelerates, expect a growing ecosystem of developer tools that promise faster API development and more efficient teams.


YouTube and bootcamps: a new way to learn

HackerRank Developer Skills

HackerRank, a coding practice and interview preparation platform for developers, released its third annual Developer Skills Report. With responses from 116,000 developers across 162 countries, the report highlights how developers are turning to new resources to uplevel their skills.

Developers turn to YouTube. Younger generations are increasingly relying on YouTube to learn new coding skills. Roughly 71% of Gen Zers (born 1997-2012) and 61% of Millennials (born 1981-1996) watch coding tutorials on YouTube.

Only 47% of Gen Xers (born 1965-1980) and 41% of Baby Boomers (born 1946-1964) watch YouTube. Instead, 63% and 68%, respectively, prefer to read books to learn new skills.

Bootcamps can be effective. When YouTube isn’t enough, more developers are enrolling in bootcamps to jumpstart their development careers. Nearly 1 in 7 young developers will attend a bootcamp and about 1 in 3 hiring managers have hired a developer that graduated from a bootcamp.

Graduates of bootcamps are usually well prepared for their professional careers, too. According to the survey, 72% of hiring managers that hired a bootcamp grad felt they were equally or better equipped for the job than other hires.

Many are focused on full-stack development. As developers expand their skills, hiring managers are increasingly focused on expanding their teams with full-stack developers.

That’s why 38% of hiring managers say full-stack developers are their top priority for 2020. While full-stack developers can have varying skill sets, hiring managers are most interested in hiring developers with experience with JavaScript, Python, and Java.

The main takeaway: How developers learn new skills is changing rapidly. Developers have many new resources to help them succeed—including bootcamps, online courses, and coding platforms.

A richer and more dynamic learning experience for developers can create a smarter workforce capable of filling the growing demand from technology companies.


Small bytes

  • Even though Android dominates global market share in the world of mobile platforms, many believe that Google Play is far less lucrative for developers than Apple’s ecosystem. Apple has doled out $155B to developers, while Google’s total payout could be as low as $80B [THE VERGE]
  • OpenAI, an AI research firm, announced that it will be switching from TensorFlow to PyTorch as its primary machine learning framework. Despite TensorFlow’s dominance, PyTorch has been surging in popularity over the last year [VENTURE BEAT]
  • CodinGame released a survey of 20,000 developers that revealed Python as the most loved language. Also from the survey: a whopping 34% of developers that responded said that they were self-taught coders [ZDNET]
  • IBM released a new image labeling tool for developers. Like many other cloud providers, IBM is working to give developers better access to pretrained AI tools to easily integrate into new applications [THE NEXT WEB]
  • Dice released a tech salary report that highlighted new emerging tech hubs across the U.S. Columbus, St. Louis, Atlanta, Denver, Dallas-Fort Worth, and San Diego saw significant growth in average salaries over the last year [TECH REPUBLIC]

Tools

  • Thinc is a lightweight deep learning library that offers an elegant, type-checked, functional-programming API for composing models [GITHUB]
  • Size Limit is a performance budget tool for JavaScript that checks every commit on CI, calculates the real cost of your JS for end-users and throws an error if the cost exceeds the limit [GITHUB]
  • gh is a GitHub command line tool that brings pull requests, issues, and other GitHub concepts to the terminal [GITHUB]
  • Cheat Sheets Dev is a developer community built to share the most used and popular programming snippets, in a simplistic way [CHEAT SHEETS DEV]
  • Octomments is a small library that offers GitHub issues as comments for your site or blog [OCTOMMENTS]
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