Main image of article JavaScript, HTML, Python Top Stack Overflow's Most-Used Languages

It’s that time of year again: Stack Overflow’s exhaustive annual Developer Survey is out, and it has some interesting insights into the tools, programming languages, and cloud platforms that developers around the world prefer to use. In what should come as a shock to exactly nobody, the most-used programming languages remain JavaScript, HTML/CSS, Python, SQL, and Java.

Also present on the list: TypeScript, a superset of JavaScript (i.e., whatever you code in it is transpiled to JavaScript). There’s a lot of debate about whether TypeScript should be considered a full-on programming language, despite its continuing presence on many programming-language rankings; whatever your feelings on it, it seems that Stack Overflow sees fit to include it in its annual survey. (You’ll also see some folks arguing that HTML shouldn’t belong on programming-language lists, either, but we’ll also set that discussion aside for the time being).

Here’s Stack Overflow’s breakdown of the most-used programming languages, based on responses from 83,052 software developers around the world:

And here’s the takeaway: Language popularity is often a reflection of demand, so if you’re new to software development and you want to land a job, it could pay (literally) to learn at least one of the top languages on this list, whether JavaScript, Python, Java, or SQL. If you want to specialize in something like mobile app development, you’ll also want to learn languages specific to that segment, such as Kotlin and/or Swift—but those languages are generally used less. 

If you’re learning one of the more popular languages, you’ll also have a significant community to rely on. Back in April, SlashData’s State of the Developer Nation suggested that JavaScript had the largest developer community worldwide, with 13.8 million members, followed by Python (10.1 million), Java (9.4 million), and C/C++ (7.3 million). JavaScript’s community is also growing rapidly: “Between Q4 2017 and Q1 2021, more than 4.5M developers joined the community—the highest growth in absolute terms across all languages.” That’s good news if you need advice during your learning journey.  

JavaScript, Java, and Python are utilized in numerous contexts, of course, but it’s worth paying attention to their use in highly specialized technologies such as machine learning and artificial intelligence (A.I.). As the tech industry evolves, there’s every chance that companies will continue to use these languages in new ways—but that also means you need to keep up with those uses and techniques.