Discover more from InfoQ Developer Marketing Newsletter (Quarterly)
Stack Overflow 2023 Survey Results: How Professional Developers are Using AI Tools
Of the approximately 90K respondents to this year’s Stack Overflow 2023 Developer survey, 43K respondents participated in the professional developer series of questions, which marks a 16% year-over-year increase in professional survey respondents.
With the advent of artificial intelligence (AI) tools like ChatGPT and GitHub Copilot, one of the big themes emerging from this year’s survey was how developers perceive and actually use AI across the development lifecycle.
Professional developers use - and perception - of AI-assisted technology
The 2023 survey reveals that a significant portion of professional developers are utilizing AI tools in their development processes, with 44% already using AI tools, and an additional 26% planning to adopt them soon. However, of the 21 AI-assisted tools currently on the market, “a vast majority are just using the two popular products: ChatGPT (83%) and GitHub Copilot (56%),” according to Stack Overflow survey author, Erin Yepis.
While the ‘learning to code’ cohort of the survey is more actively using AI technology for software development, the numbers indicate that professional developers are less trusting of the tech’s accuracy, with “only 3% highly trusting of the results and 6% highly distrusting them.”
They survey also examined the adoption of AI tools through a global lens, revealing that perception and actual usage vary greatly across different parts of the world.
“Professional developers from India, Brazil, and Poland are most likely to use or plan on using AI tools as part of their development workflow—all responding at 70% or higher,” according to Yepis. Meanwhile, “UK, French, US, and German developers are more likely to say they don’t plan on using AI tools (responding at 36% or higher).”
With the ever looming fear of copyright infringement, constantly evolving GDPR laws and regulations, and limits to data access, professional developers in the US and EU are perhaps taking a more cautious approach when using large language models to aid in software development, according to the report.
AI in practice
While ChatGPT and Copilot certainly aren’t the panacea for rapid application development, AI technology is already a proven part of developer tooling, increasing productivity by handling many of the mundane tasks related to coding, debugging, and even monitoring (AIOps), freeing developers up to focus on the more creative aspects of software engineering.
When asked about their primary use cases for using AI tools today, “the overwhelming majority” of survey respondents indicated that they use it “to write code (83%) or debug code (49%).”
In terms of the perceived benefits of AI tools, 33% of survey respondents believe increasing productivity is the most important benefit, followed by speeding up the learning process, increasing efficiency, and improving accuracy in coding.
Additional highlights from the 2023 Stack Overflow survey
27% of respondents are 5-9 years into their professional careers.
Most Professional Developers report having CI/CD, automated testing, and DevOps available at their organization. 16% of organizations have AI-assisted technology.
49% of professional developer respondents report having Microservices within their organization
Over 60% report having a DevOps function in their organization
While PostgreSQL (49%) and MySQL (MySQL) were the top two databases used by professional developers, other databases that appeared in the top 10 list were MongoDB (26%), Redis (23%), and MariaDB (18%)
While AWS (48%) remains the most used cloud platform for all respondents (professional and non-professional), “you can see the inroads that Azure has with organizations—twice as many Professional Developers are using Azure compared to people who are learning to code (30% vs. 15%),” according to Yepis.
~14K AWS developers —a little less than half—want to develop in Google Cloud or Microsoft Azure next year.