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JetBrains Developer Survey Tracks Rapid Adoption of AI

Three in four developers use ChatGPT and nearly half use GitHub Copilot, according to a new survey by JetBrains. But very few devs think generative AI will take over all coding tasks.
Dec 5th, 2023 8:30am by
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Nearly a year after the introduction of ChatGPT-3 sparked a flood of excitement and hand-wringing in the developer community, more than three of every four devs are using the generative AI tool, according to the latest developer survey by JetBrains.

Seventy-seven percent of developers use OpenAI’s ChatGPT and 46% use of developers use GitHub Copilot, the study reported.

The figures echo findings in June’s StackOverflow developer survey, which found that 70% of devs use or plan to use AI to do their jobs.

The JetBrains survey is based on responses from 26,348 developers, scattered across 196 countries and regions. It offers a deep dive into not only the tools used by devs and how they use them but also programming languages, work behaviors, salaries, demographics and even the mental health and lifestyles of developers.

Languages: Rust and Python

As in previous years, The New Stack will do additional analysis when the study’s raw data is released. In the meantime, here are additional takeaways, including the declining use of Python web frameworks and infrastructure provisioning tools.

  • Web development with Python is less common than in 2021.
    • 47% of Python developers use it for data analysis, followed by 42% using it for machine learning and 37% for web development. While data analysis and ML usage rose slightly among Python developers, web development fell from 49% in 2021.
    • The decline is partly because older frameworks have lost users. Among Python developers, Django usage fell from 45% in 2021 to 40% in 2023, while Flask adoption fell from 46% to 38%.
    • FastAPI, a framework specifically designed for constructing APIs with Python, appears to be gaining, while Django and Flask fell. Among Python developers, FastAPI adoption rose from 14% in 2021 to 25% in 2023.
  • Rust users have not jumped on the WebAssembly bandwagon.
    • Sixty-nine percent of WebAssembly (Wasm) developers use Rust in their applications, according to the 2023 State of WebAssembly report. However, it is not a fait accompli that they will automatically start using Wasm. While 20% of Rust developers in the JetBrains survey target Wasm as a platform for their Rust applications, that is down from 22% last year, which itself is much lower than the 36% reported in 2019. We first reported on this phenomenon two years ago.
    • The JetBrains survey saw only incremental growth in Rust, going from 9% of respondents in 2022 to 10% in 2023. This is slower than the 40% increase reported in the latest StackOverflow study. It appears that as Rust moves beyond early adopters, the newer Rust developers are less likely to be using it with WebAssembly.
    • Thirty-five percent of Rust users have not used it to replace another language. Of those that did migrate, 35% did so from C++.

Source: JetBrains Developer Ecosystem Survey 2023

Burnout, Time Management and Concentration

The survey tracked developers’ well-being, and how they spend their time at work. Among the key findings:

  • Over half (53%) of respondents spend more than 20% of their time in meetings and work-related chats. For those involved with management or collaborative development, this is probably not a problem, but junior developers are expected to spend more time coding.
  • Regardless of age or role, 57% of respondents spend more than half their time on code-related activities.
  • Sixty-two percent of survey participants said they are often or are always in a state of focused concentration that prevents them from noticing what’s happening around them and how much time has passed.
  • Forty-seven percent use self-monitoring apps or devices to track their physical activity, sleep quality and other health parameters. Unfortunately, the study did not ask a follow-up question about the effectiveness of these apps.

Remote Development

The survey also asked about remote development practices:

  • Slightly less than half (49%) of respondents have edited code on a remote machine, down from 53% in 2022.
  • Among those that have done remote development, 30% use cloud development environments (CDEs), up from 25% in 2022.
  • GitHub Codespaces is the most widely used CDE, cited by 42% of respondents. The 29% share of respondents that use JetBrains Space probably overestimates adoption in the broader market, because JetBrains users may been more willing, on average, to complete the survey.

Source: JetBrains Developer Ecosystem Survey 2023

AI Helps Developers

There is a consensus that AI will never fully take over the job of writing code for developers: Only 13% of developers think it will. Among other key findings:

  • Overall, 60% of respondents think AI coding tools will radically change the job market, mostly for the better. Indeed, 51% believe AI-powered code generation will increase demand for professional software developers.
  • Given the opportunity, 56% of respondents would let an AI assistant write code comments and documentation. In contrast, only 17% would delegate the writing of code to an AI assistant.

Source: JetBrains Developer Ecosystem Survey 2023

DevOps: Infrastructure Tools Use Declining

  • Overall, 11% of the survey works in a DevOps engineer/infrastructure developer role. Among these professionals, 33% used Terraform in 2023, down from 37% in 2022.
  • There was also a notable decline in configuration management tools being to provision infrastructure.
  • At the same time, 30% of the DevOps cohort said they do not use any tools for infrastructure provisioning.

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