A Tale of Two Industries: How Programming Languages Differ Between Wealthy and Developing Countries

Here at Stack Overflow, we’re interested in using our data to share insights about the worldwide software development community. This recent post on the distribution of mobile developers is a good example: it explored traffic to Android questions from around the world, and found that Android tended to be visited more from lower-income countries than from higher-income ones.

This leads us to wonder how else programming technologies may differ between rich and poor countries, and how that affects our picture of the global software development industry. In this post, we’ll explore these differences, and show that’s it’s useful to segment the software development industry into high-income countries and the rest of the world.

All the analyses explored here were performed on 2017 so far (January-August), on the 250 tags that had the most traffic during that time. To reduce the effect of noise, we analyzed only the 64 countries that had at least 5 million question visits in this time period. It’s also worth noting that this data represents activity among developers who understand English (some analyses of the Spanish and Portuguese sites suggest that similar trends apply for non-English speakers in countries such as Mexico and Brazil).

Technologies correlated with GDP per capita

In a recent post, we saw that the traffic to Android questions (as a percentage of a country’s Stack Overflow visits) tends to be negatively correlated with a country’s GDP per capita. This may lead us to wonder if the same is true of any other tags.

When we explore major programming languages and platforms, some that stand out besides Android include PHP, Python, and R.

The amount of Android and PHP traffic is negatively correlated with a country’s income, while Python and R are positively correlated. In each case we can see exceptions (Korea uses more Android than we’d expect, and China more Python), but generally the correlations are strong. (Each has an R2 around .5-6, with p-values < 10-6 after adjusting for multiple testing).

We’ll emphasize that we’re not suggesting any causality here. We’re certainly not suggesting that programming language choice affects a country’s average income, but we’re also not saying that a country’s wealth directly influences their use of technologies. We suspect that the drivers are likely a mixture of economic and social factors (level of education, age of the software industry, level of outsourcing) that are, in general, correlated with a country’s wealth.

How can we segment the software development industry in two?

When we’re examining trends, it’s useful to talk about two groups of countries (high income and non-high income) rather than considering a pile of correlations. As a useful pre-existing categorization, we could use World Bank income classification, which is based on GNI (gross national income) per capita (see here for discussion of this categorization).

There are 78 high-income economies, largely made up of the US and Canada, Western Europe, parts of the Middle East and East Asia, and Australia/New Zealand. I’ve done some analyses of the fundamental drivers of the between-country variation (such as principal component analysis) that suggest this is a reasonable division, and that it’s more meaningful than other ways we could divide them, such as Eastern vs Western Hemisphere. (For instance, Australia is generally more similar to the US and Europe in terms of visited technologies than it is to China or Indonesia).

The division splits Stack Overflow traffic into groups of about two-thirds and one-third: 63.7% of Stack Overflow’s traffic comes from high income countries. (This likely is due to a combination of greater proportion of software development, more widespread internet access, and a disproportionate share of English-speakers). Much of the traffic from non-high-income countries comes from India, followed by Brazil, Russia, and China.

How do high-income countries differ in the technologies they use?

We’ve now divided the software development world into two segments. How do high-income and non-high-income countries differ in terms of the technologies they use?

We can extract several interesting insights:

  • Difference in data science technologies: As we saw earlier, Python and R are associated with a country’s income. Python is visited about twice as often in high-income countries as in the rest of the world, and R about three times as much. We might also notice that among the smaller tags, many of the greatest shifts are in scientific Python and R packages such as pandas, numpy, matplotlib and ggplot2. This suggests that part of the income gap in these two languages may be due to their role in science and academic research. It makes sense these would be more common in wealthier industrialized nations, where scientific research makes up a larger portion of the economy and programmers are more likely to have advanced degrees.

  • C/C++: C/C++ are two other notable languages that tend to be visited from high-income countries. One hypothesis is that this may have to do with education: as we saw in a previous post, C and C++ are among the languages more disproportionately visited from American universities. It could also be related to the geographic distribution of the electronics and manufacturing industries.

  • PHP and Android: We explored Android development around the world in a previous post, but PHP is another technology that’s notably associated with lower-income countries. It’s interesting to see that CodeIgniter, a PHP open source framework, is the tag that’s singularly most disproportionately visited from lower-income countries, by a large margin. Further examination shows it is especially heavily visited in South/Southeast Asia (particularly India, Indonesia, Pakistan and the Philippines) while it has very little traffic from the US and Europe. It’s possible that CodeIgniter is a common choice for outsourcing firms building websites.

Conclusion: why does this matter?

I was certainly interested in these results as a fun fact about the programming language ecosystem. But it also has implications for other data explorations we’ll be publishing in the near future.

When we ask questions about the software development industry, it’s important to know that we’re really answering two separate questions that have been “blended” together, and that separating them can sometimes give us more informative answers.

For example, we’re often interested in understanding which technologies drive the most traffic, such as examining technologies like Flash that are shrinking over time. If we were to create a list of the most visited programming technologies, it would be different for high-income and low-income countries:

For instance, in 2017 so far, Python is the second most visited tag among high-income countries, while it’s only the 8th most visited in the rest of the world. My language of choice, R, is the 15th most visited tag in high-income countries, but it doesn’t even make the top 50 most visited tags elsewhere.

This is important context when we’re using Stack Overflow data to learn about the developer ecosystem. An American tech recruiter interested in the future of the industry will need a different set of answers than an Indian student wondering what language to learn, or an investor looking to understand tech companies in Kenya.

In future posts, we’ll sometimes refer back to this division as we continue to explore the worldwide developer ecosystem. And if you’re interested in how our understanding of software developers around the world can help your company’s decision-making, visit Stack Overflow Insights to learn more.

Author

David Robinson
Data Scientist

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Comments

  • svick

    Interesting, .net is significantly higher than asp.net in high-income countries (16 vs. 23), but it’s reversed for the rest of the world (18 vs. 15).

    • Abhishek Modi

      ios is on 13th, but swift/objective-c isn’t on top-25 for the high-income countries. :v

      • Sohaib Arif

        I guess they prefer to make iOS apps in JavaScript or C# and then export using tools like PhoneGap or Xamrian and outsource what they can’t.

      • David Robinson

        Swift and Objective C are pretty evenly split in the low 30s, thus why they’re lower than the “combined” tag of ios! Objective-C is on the decline while Swift is rising, naturally.

    • Ian Ringrose

      All of the “none web” .net systems I have worked on, would be web based if written today.

  • Maybe there are jobs that are not yet outsourced and not available in low income countries. Python and R are often tools of data analysis and science. These tasks often require high level of education. Maybe the education system of low income countries has not yet caught up, so that they could provide jobs for these sectors where Python and R are prevalent?

    • jake

      maybe also contributing is a lot of outsourcing freelancee type stuff is done in the lower income countries?

    • Sohaib Arif

      It might also be that Western employers aren’t ready to outsource this kind of work as they are also just beginning to understand it.

      • Lizzie G

        It also might be sensitive or proprietary/costly data that employers don’t feel comfortable outsourcing to somewhere offsite or to non-direct employees. Especially where NDAs are concerned it can become very difficult, costly, and complicated to enforce across borders.

    • t1oracle

      Or, big data is expensive…

    • Ian Ringrose

      “data analysis” need to be done by someone who “lives and breaths” the company that wants the results, hence it not easy to outsource. It is best done by people who can to talk to the MD most days…..

    • ahmed galal

      low income country = weaker education and research system
      weaker education and research system = lower income country

      this closed loop works pretty well in most developing and (not-really-developing) countries

  • Pramesh Bajracharya

    How motivating :P. Currently I’m in India – lower middle income. I’m originally from Nepal – low income. Time to move I guess 😀

  • Tyler Hibbard

    In the World Bank map, India is listed as upper middle income, but in the very next graph, it’s listed as lower middle income. Why?

    Edit – Oh, no the colors just changed from one graph to the next. Could you fix that, please? The colors changing misled me to being confused.

    • David Robinson

      You’re quite right, fixed!

  • disqusivus

    Coming from a low income country I can tell you it’s not (as far as I can see around me) about education. It’s just that certain languages don’t lend themselves to low scale commercial production. Any business could want a mobile app, everyone uses a phone. What company is rich enough and big enough to want Data Science research though. Not here, certainly.
    Many exceptions of course, but this is a pattern I observe.

    • Yvette E

      That’s an interesting explanation.

    • Same here, love python, data science, ml, but I can simply not get a job using these. When you find it already requires a level so high that you need to import people. You can’t find intermediate positions like I’m looking for. And the income for a already developer is not that great that you can buy time to get more prolific than some udemy course offers.

    • Rachmawan Atmaji Perdana

      A truth has been spoken.
      +1 confirmed from the green-colored country.

  • andrewjgrimm

    Do countries that use spaces have a higher GDP than countries that use tabs?

    • Sonu Panchal

      Asking the Real Question here

    • MJ Hdesproj

      Well played sir…
      Well played…

    • Genta/aquire

      Does Whitespace count in?

    • Nicolas Raoul

      Countries that do not use space: Poland

  • Victoria

    How’s for instance North Korea?

  • Jurann McRea

    I want to point out how utterly ridiculous the correlative power is between tagged page visits and the proclivity for programming language use in a locale. You would have to assume that all languages require the same levels of research and support via StackOverflow and that all language are on a level playing field for popularity in general as well. You would also have to assume a number of other factors such as there are no other possible places for programming assistance for the given language and that every programming language takes roughly the same number of page views to reach a desired result. None of these are true, some languages have amazing documentation and cookbooks and require much less research on StackOverflow and others are incredibly obtuse and require a considerable amount more support from Stack Overflow to use. I don’t think any useful or even reasonable conclusions can be drawn from the results of this article/information as the correlative strength is so weak and lacks teeth.

    • Ron Herren

      I think you have a weak argument Jurann. Why would someone resort to other, more complex methods to solve any problem, when they can just post a question and have someone else do the work, regardless of language?

    • Victoria

      Of course, this doesn’t say much, but even if you can write as amazing laguage or library documentation as you can, you can find some “i does not know nothing, gimme teh codez, tank you” question on SO.

    • I was thinking a similar thing to you @jurannmcrea:disqus , in particular I noticed a lack of Ruby and Rails on the list but both of these have excellent documentation, resources and user communities.

      • As a long time Ruby on Rails developer, I think I can go just fine without stack overflow. The majority of time juniors can use the official guides and intermediate / seniors use the libraries docs in GitHub.

        Only poorly documented gems, like activeserializer has more help on stack than elsewhere.

    • GOWRI SANKAR

      while it’s true that these stats should be considered with a grain of salt, if there’s one community where you could look to derive such stats from, it’s Stackexchange

    • Tom

      The author never claims that the analysis shows (for example) “Python is more popular than / less popular than C#”. The point is about how the *relative* popularity of each language *varies* between different parts of the world, as defined by income. For sure there may be multiple underlying causes of this. But for your argument to invalidate the whole basis of this analysis, a given language would have to be well-documented in high-income countries but obtuse in low-income ones, or vice versa.

    • EqualOpportunityCynic

      It’s a simplifying assumption. That’s how research starts. If you have a better research design that incorporates the “level of demand” for SO, I’d love to hear it. I mean that in all sincerity.

      Nevertheless, the level of complexity for Android is pretty constant across countries (except for English vs. other human language effects — which could be substantial). It’s not like the programmers / SO traffic ratio would be higher for Android one place but higher for C++ another. Or at least I can’t come up with a reason that makes sense.

  • Suragch

    I think the Objective-C tag is artificially high because a lot of old questions with that tag were taken over by Swift.

  • No Mist

    Very interesting. An analysis of time dependence of such a distribution would be highly interesting. Could you also do this analysis for tex/latex?

  • Sundarraj Kaushik

    Another interesting insight could be gleaned by looking at number of questions posted number of questions answered vs the Income category. And within it by technology.

  • dave
    • David Robinson

      The division in the post is between high-income (as defined by World Bank) and rest-of-world; Kenya is still in the latter category.

      • Wondering Chilean

        On the same note, and this has nothing to do with the results of your analysis but take it as a small correction, on all the charts and tables you mentioned from the World Bank, Chile is classified as a high income country, yet you put it on the middle-high-income category.

  • Sourav Ghosh

    The only thing that disturbs me is the mention of `C/C++`, that is UB, per se. 🙂

  • Dillon Burnett

    Something interesting to note is your audience.

    A good question is if you have to choose between a phone or a desktop which one would you choose?

    If most of your audience only has a phone and not a desktop or laptop computer i could see what Java and mobile oriented languages are higher on the list.

    JavaScript, Jquery, HTML, CSS are very common and easy to use resources, to develop websites which can be used on almost every device. This would cover both mobile and desktop. If you want to cover the most amount of devices with the smallest budget then you can’t get to far off.

    Additionally the mobile market would be popular for poor nations. $100 for a phone and then $200 for a laptop could be some what expensive and if you had to pick one or the other most people will probably pick the phone.

    Resources like mysql, php, bootstrap would also increase the usage of other resources like javaScript, Jquery, Html, Css.

    Something that might be very important to always take into account is how poor nations are in the process of catching up with the rest of the world. If you want to catch up, your development process is going to have to be fast. Languages like PHP have many plug-ins and even without those are very easy and fast to create working products. Also because these companies to growing and advancing they won’t have all the legacy software to patch, instead they are building on an empty market with mostly up to date resources.

  • mcalex

    umm, “Korea uses more Android than we’d expect …”. Seriously? In the Republic of Samsung?

    • Ian Longshore

      I think they mean “more than they’d expect given the data and trends being studied”.

    • William Brown

      That’s an interesting point. Obviously, if you don’t know you’re looking at South Korea, and you see a blip with high wealth and high Android interest, its going to be an outlier. Data aside, it got me wondering what the iPhone adoption rate is there. My very limited insight, suggests that South Korea, at least in consumer circles, is very trendy, and very label conscious. If I’m right about that, I wonder if apple is well regarded there.

      • Tasos A

        You are absolutely right about the “label conscious” and from what I hear iPhone gains popularity.
        Maybe the only thing keeping it back is the price, compared to the domestic price of Samsung which is much lower for practically the same thing.

  • Amit Joshi

    I can prove anything by statistics except the truth. – George Canning

  • SMITH

    OK but I did not read any information for programming languages types of countries. There is a chaos-list of languages. Some of them like Excel is strange to put in the same list with C++.

    • Ian Longshore

      For a lot of people, especially in finance, Excel+VBA isn’t really used any differently from how I’d use Python. I was about to say C++ is the real outlier here, but all the high-performance C++ I write is just to put out a chart at the end.

  • reinier_post

    Of course all countries have wealthy and poorer regions, some far more than others; what would a comparison by city look like?

    • I was thinking the same. F.ex in Poland soft dev salaries might vary from 450 to 4500 EUR gross in month therefore I hardly see Poland as High Income country.

    • THE-MAIN

      not switzerland

    • David Robinson

      I explored the four cities with the highest Stack Overflow traffic here!

      https://stackoverflow.blog/2016/11/30/how-do-developers-in-new-york-san-francisco-london-and-bangalore-differ/

    • Jeff Mcneill

      Not to mention that people who are coming from another country aren’t necessarily citizens of those countries but could very well be expatriates and/or digital nomads. Especially for a site like Stackoverflow which is in English.

  • Kennedy Ndegwa

    i think mostly the social economic activities majorly influence the technology considering in places like Kenya and India we are first in emulating western and far east tech that means constantly upgrading from one programming language to the other since we frequently update our systems to match up with new industrial standards and infrastructure.

    What we will end up with for instance from this survey is students now majoring in R and Python so as to “Be More Marketable” instead what we should be doing is really looking a head and seeing the kind of systems we want to have in the future.

    • Ian Ringrose

      I think a big part of it is that lots of people in India JUST train in programming to make money, when in the UK/USA it tends to be the people who want to “understand” and enjoy programming that do it. Hence being willing to learn something that does not directly result in a better job.

      In the UK/USA there are easier ways to make money then programming…..

  • Ahmed Dawod

    The moment I read “while Python and R are positively correlated”, I said ‘That’s because of data science’ 🙂

    • EqualOpportunityCynic

      Then I took a stats class. Now I….

      Wait, wrong punch line.

    • can you say self-referentiality? [rim-shot!]

  • Alexei

    The chart of countries with most Stack Overflow traffic is invalid: the income category is measured by income per capita, but traffic is taken absolute, not considering country population. If both axes were measured in the same way, then the dominance of USA and India would not look so impressive.

    • EqualOpportunityCynic

      I don’t follow. The scale on the left side of the plots (the ones I think you’re referring to) is % traffic. Is suppose you could say population is reflected in the numerator and denominator hence falls out.

      Of course we all know the USA circle is bigger because it has more population, not just more traffic per capita. But that’s not really the point of this blog post.

      • Alexei

        I propose to divide the size of each bar by the population of corresponding country. Then its size would denote how much traffic is generated by an average citizen of a country, and not by all citizens as it is reflected now. Then China moves down to the bottom, India, Brasil and Russia move to the middle of the chart, and all the countries above the middle become developed.
        So the division between developed and developing would be demonstrated more bright.

    • David Robinson

      This is not the reason the bar plot of countries is included, and it wouldn’t serve the purpose. The bar plot is to describe which countries tend to drive the categories whose traffic is discussed in the rest of the post.

      There is certainly a blog post to write about which countries have the highest “density” of software development, which would be rather interesting, but it’s not this blog post.

      The countries with the highest density of Visits/Population included Singapore and Iceland, and the highest non-high-income countries included Lituania and Latvia. But those are very small countries that contribute only a small amount of traffic. If I’d shown such a graph, then pointed out richer countries visited more Python and R and lower income countries visited more Android and PHP, one might think in terms of it describing the relative differences between Iceland and Latvia. But that wouldn’t be true, or helpful.

  • Iam Nikhil

    @disqus_77VjwAen42:disqus yeah, could’ve considered the binomial proportion delta..

    But I think a grid-type “geo-tag” would more amply represent data on a world-map visualization..

    Its a typical semantic-lag between apparent data, and the perceived data!

    • Iam Nikhil

      exp+ (grid-type)
      The whole-big chunk of Russia can NOT actually represent Russia, or US, or India per se, but split this world-map into a bitmap 360×720 (Atlas-adjusted, i.e., a sphereSurface-transformTo-squareGrid), and !!!

  • Ian Ringrose

    I expect that C/C++ has a lot to do with established usage going back back 10 or 20 years, hence India does not use them as much. (Most system written in C++/C I have worked on would be written in C#/Java if started these days.)

  • Peter Schaeffer

    Most of this is easy to understand. Android (not iPhone) dominates developing countries. Python makes more sense in countries where labor is (relatively) more expensive than hardware. Data science (R) is a bigger issue in richer countries. However, the PHP data is something of a mystery.

    • EqualOpportunityCynic

      Re PHP: Perhaps because it’s easier to outsource hence offshore Web work on a “mom-and-pop” scale, so learning PHP can attract work from richer countries?

      Also, it just seems intuitively clear that certain languages are more prominent in resource-rich places–be it hardware, a vigorous job market, etc. PHP is running on basically every Web server so it seems intuitive that it would be virtually ubiquitous, hence more visible to someone trying to learn.

    • Jeff Mcneill

      PHP is the language behind several of the most popular website/blog/forum software, such as WordPress, not to mention that most are open source and therefore freely available to download and try out. Most cheap shared hosting platforms have php and mysql enabled. Also, PHP’s use in Facebook is well known to most programmers worldwide. And finally, most programmers do take some programming classes and PHP is used in entry level web programming classes in most countries.

  • Peter Schaeffer

    Here is one data point. I was recently exposed to a mobile application development project targeting India. The project is in India, for use in India. The project is 100% Android. No iPhone version is even being considered. Outside of the U.S. and Europe, iPhone either doesn’t exist or is marginal. Globally, Android has around 88% of the smartphone market. The usage numbers are a bit more favorable for iPhone. Apparently, iPhone’s are (on average) used more then Android phones.

  • Jim

    A nation’s software piracy practices affect its overall use of programming languages, and software systems.
    In countries where piracy is widely practiced, they use open-source software less (compared to countries where piracy is less prevalent). I heard this from grad student in a first world country, but who was from a third-world country.

    • ahmed galal

      that will be probably only for languages related to scientific research like matlab.
      Those are few in number and opensource alternatives are not a strong replacement , also they are used by few individuals , so it’s hard to track piracy.
      but in production or in large firms IT-systems you can’t relay on pirated software , and opensource solutions with the same quality will be usually more attractive.
      so it think researchers and grad students may actually go for pirated scientific programming languages , while developers will usually prefer languages with opensource/free frameworks and tools.

      • Jim

        Ahmed,
        Great points, thanks.
        For students, also pirated Visual Studio, from what I understand.

        • Peter Wone

          VS Community 2017 is a free download. How can you pirate that?

          • Victor

            Only made free very recently. Not enough to influence patterns.

          • Han Chen

            It’s been releasing free version since 2012. You won’t call that “recently”

          • Victor

            A limited version has been free. Full version made free half a year ago.

          • Peter Wone

            VS2015 Community Edition was also free. That’s more like two years.

          • Han Chen

            What do you mean by full version made free? The 2012 express was already free.

  • Joshua Petersen

    As there are a wide and large variety of possible factors that could affect these numbers, my hypothesis is that the driving factor behind these relations is something I am wrong about being the driving factor behind these relations.

    • Markus Appel

      Self-reflection on a whole new level!

  • Giovanna

    Is the table on Stack Overflow traffic showing traffic pro capita (i.e. normalizing by population size)? Otherwise smaller countries have less chance to appear in the top-30 list.

  • Adam Hooper

    “This suggests that part of the income gap in these two languages may be due to their role in science and academic research.”

    Aren’t there dozens of confounding variables? Or you may have flipped the dependent and independent variables. For instance, here are alternate explanations for why Python and R might be less popular in developing countries than in developed countries:

    * Documentation. Different programming languages are documented in different human languages.

    * Users. A few years ago most sub-Saharan Africans had access to cell phones but not websites. Surely that would lead programmers to choose different programming languages.

    * Western donors. Suppose Microsoft supplies computers to a developing country’s main university, or One Laptop Per Child donates laptops to a significant number of children. The developing country’s software ecosystem would be very different from the United States, _because_ a few American companies have an outsize influence.

    * Megacorporations’ locations. Microsoft, Google and IBM hire lots of programmers, and their jobs are highly sought-after. If they all recruit programmers who know a certain language (*cough* C++), that language could be more popular in the countries where they recruit programmers — high-income countries.

    Not to mention: even if your suggestion is correct (“part of the income gap in these two languages may be due to their role in science and academic research”), isn’t Python mainly used _outside_ those domains? Judging by SO questions: [pandas] has 50k questions, [django] has 151k questions.

    Thank you for publishing this piece! But let’s not confuse correlation with causation.

    • David Robinson

      I address that here in the post:

      > We’ll emphasize that we’re not suggesting any causality here. We’re certainly not suggesting that programming language choice affects a country’s average income, but we’re also not saying that a country’s wealth directly influences their use of technologies. We suspect that the drivers are likely a mixture of economic and social factors (level of education, age of the software industry, level of outsourcing) that are, in general, correlated with a country’s wealth.

      Thus the factors you’re describing are exactly kinds of causal factors I suspect exist. (The exception would be language of documentation, which I don’t see as a plausible hypothesis: I don’t see how the reason India, Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, and the Philippines all visit less Python and R is that there coincidentally happens to be great other Python and R documentation written in the many non-English languages spoken in those countries).

      > Not to mention: even if your suggestion is correct (“part of the income gap in these two languages may be due to their role in science and academic research”), isn’t Python mainly used _outside_ those domains? Judging by SO questions: [pandas] has 50k questions, [django] has 151k questions.

      Interestingly, that’s true only because Django has been popular over a longer period of time: pandas is currently only a little behind django in terms of both the number of questions being asked and the current traffic:

      https://insights.stackoverflow.com/trends/?tags=pandas%2Cdjango

      Other analyses, which will be published in the near future, have suggested the portion of Python users that are analyzing data is roughly comparable to the portion that are web developers, and possibly a bit larger.

  • Johnny Hadryanto

    It is interesting to see that C# is more popular than VB

    • Markus Appel

      Not supprising to me, C# is more powerful and still easy to use. One can learn programming using C# as easily as him using VB, don’t you think?

      • klmr

        How is C# more powerful than VB? They’re pretty much feature identical, albeit with different syntax. There are some small differences but those don’t make one more powerful than the other. I prefer C# as well since VB’s syntax is simply more cumbersome. But I can write applications in either, just as well.

        • Markus Appel

          You are right. I haven’t used VB in ages, actually.
          The C-like syntax of C# makes it my favourite, it combines ease of use with intuitive logic.

    • klmr

      That’s easy to explain. C#’s syntax is much more familiar for people coming from other mainstream languages at the time (mostly Java, C and C++). Microsoft was advertising C# much more, to the point of neglect of VB (they even admitted it at the time). And lastly, VB, for all its benefits, was always targeted more at beginners and casual programmers (including as VBA) than software development professionals, and its syntax is more verbose than most programmers would like.

  • Jeff Mcneill

    As suspected, php is a poor man’s python.

    • please elaborate. I’m not looking for a fight. i’m just a chronic, substantially self-taught wannabe — my job is formally non-IT, but I’ve made myself useful by solving problems in our workplace using a ton of PHP. I’ve been itching for a good excuse to learn more Python.

  • Oleg Antonyan

    There is another type of noise: many people use VPN. Especially in China, Russia (recently) and probably many others. So you cannot rely on geoip data

    • Chen NI

      Quite right.

    • David Robinson

      This is indeed a huge issue in our interpretation, especially around China. We have a strong suspicion based on both outside evidence and our own data that a large number of Chinese users seem to be coming from other countries.

  • HaakonKL

    What languages are taught at universities in said countries?
    Because I suspect that a lot of the questions are students wanting to know how to do their homework.

    • I would speak about Kenya where I come from. In the universities they teach java and php in some universities (mostly private) but not all but c/c++ is taught in both universities, colleges either as part of programming unit to engineering students. Html is also taught in most of those institutions I have mentioned. VB 6. and not VB.net is also taught in most government institutions mostly colleges and not universities.

  • This is very interesting statistics here. I would speak about Kenya where I come from. In the universities they teach java and php in some universities (mostly private) but not all but c/c++ is taught in both universities, colleges either as part of programming unit to engineering students. Html is also taught in most of those institutions I have mentioned. VB 6. and not VB.net is also taught in most government institutions mostly colleges and not universities.

    Most of those working on android projects as well as web projects are those like me who are self taught developers. The most driving force behind us learning this technologies is for purposes of business, freelance as well as a source of income because we have problems of unemployment. Unlike others I have taken the uphill task to learn languages that i was either not taught in class like java, python c# for purposes of solving day to day life problems. I also do c/c++ which compared to class was just for passing exams. But I want to do apps for windows, linux and later mac os if i get the resources to do such http://github.com/jacksiro.
    Google is my girlfriend.

  • MikeDunlavey

    Interesting. Not being a web developer myself, I can still understand why javascript is big in the rest of the world.
    It’s free and runs in all browsers. Speed is not a big issue because most people are building UIs, not high-tech apps where speed matters.

  • ramey

    The chart “The countries with the most stack overflow traffic” is sort of confusing. It seems that you’re other statistics are on a per capita basis. Clearly comparing total stack overflow traffic in a country with the population of the US with that it hong kong (hong kong is a country?) fails to add anything useful in this context. I makes me skeptical of the whole article.

    • Adam

      They could have come up with a better unit of measure, but the units effect all the technologies equally, so the comparison is still valid.

      • ramey

        Hmmm – I’m not seeing this. The title says “The countries with the most stack overflow traffic” which looks like it means we’re comparing countries and not and technologies. What does it mean to say that stack overflow inquiries from the US are 12 times those of Thailand? It might have something interesting to say in the context of the article if the numbers were scaled on a per capita basis. Maybe something interesting if they were scaled on an income per capita basis, but as it stands – it means nothing. As I said, such a glaring misunderstanding of the basic numbers brings into the question the validity of the whole article.

  • Crazy Atheist

    what kinda analysis is this 😀 ? LOL

  • Richard Lerner

    Actually, I see this as a difference on when technology has been adopted. What this says is that the emerging nations are doing more web and Java based programming because this is both technologically feasible and available, not unlike what happened in the 70’s and 80’s here – but our choices were Fortran, COBOL and C.

  • Frm

    pandas, matplotlib and ggplot2 are NOT scientific packages, but only visualization

    • Arek Bal

      “scientific” as in “popular among researchers”. Don’t be a douche. 🙂

    • David Arenburg

      Pandas wasn’t meant for visualization rather for data manipulation and data analysis

  • Fred Clausen

    Many countries in your ‘rich’ list can get by with ASCII, others need UTF-8 when working with people. Has this been considered by the authors? Some languages have UTF-8 built in and it is easy to work with (Go, for example). Other have UTF-8 bolted on and it is difficult to work with.

    • Even Western Europe can’t get by with just ASCII

      • Fred Clausen

        I agree with you, Rowland. Greece being a good example. However, they get by. Have done so for years.

    • Arek Bal

      Are you really arguing that ascii/utf8 makes the difference or are you just trolling?

      • Fred Clausen

        Ascii has long been recognised as being totally inadequate for a global software product. I am suggesting that the ability of a programming language/tool to support somebody’s mother tongue is a factor to consider. However, as an English speaker I am not in a good position to deliver a convincing argument. Better to ask a Japanese, Chinese, Vietnamese, Russian, Hebrew or Arabic speaker for their opinion on this article.

  • Seth Cohen

    North Korea doesn’t appear to have any of the 4 colors in the legend (looks gray)

    • Manuel Alvarado

      Their internet connection is very limited, almost null, which is really sad.

  • Manuel Alvarado

    This is amazing!
    Since i’m living in Venezuela, i studied two semester of computer engineering and currently learning web development, i’m pretty much aware of this data, in an empirical way.
    Something i’ve noticed is that, if for example node and javascript full-stack development is the most in demand skill in the web development industry, here in Latin America chances are that you’ll get a job easier with Rails or PHP. Of course, Rails is still a very in demand skill in the rest of the world, but i think that technologies get their higher demand here one or two years after most developed countries.
    I’m amazed because it’s actually a good picture of the quality life of a country or an area.
    It’s also important to clarify that maybe my perception is biased since i’m from Venezuela and i’m currently learning. Also, most web pages related with the government here are made with PHP.

  • mlv
    • kkk

      because few Argentines use stackoverflow ?

    • Read the article. You’ll understand

  • Walter

    Uow, awesome, my country it’s so small on graph * – *

  • Walt French

    Interesting to see Swift as a RoW-“only” language. This must reflect whether Stack Overflow is the best resource in a given geography/wealth combo, versus others; it’s hard to imagine that Swift is enjoying a faster takeup in areas that have a much smaller local market for the machines on which Swift runs.

    Swift is as yet an oddity, but it calls into question whether the bigger languages likewise have support networks outside of Stack Overflow, that are geography/wealth-specific.

  • Adam

    This reminds me of the first offshoring days. We gave the crappy jobs to the offshore developers. I just assumed times have changed, but I see not. Python, data science, are preferred career paths over PHP. I’m pretty sure this preference exists in every country, it is just that poor countries have more PHP openings. US corporate management is using their power to give the best jobs to their buddies. It seems the rich rig the system so the rich get richer even in software.

  • Muggy Ate

    I think there’s a big part about certain languages/technologies having other sources of support than just stack overflow and the presence of in-house co-workers. for example, angular is a framework I’d wager is widely used across the globe (judging by it’s position on the graph on how common it is) and it’s being searched a fair bit more in lower income countries. I know anicdotally, that when I have an angular spicific question, the first place I check is the angular docs, then to blogs/youtube, then to the guy sitting next to me at work and if all else fails. to stack overflow. in fact this is generally my process with searching for information. on the other hand, as someone who was just starting to learn programming “back in the days” I was taking it to stack overflow for every simple question since I didn’t know how to even search nor did I know how to read the docs or have someone next to me to ask

  • Michael Grimm

    Nonsensical mish-mash of data points. Operating systems mixed with programming languages mixed with scripting languages mixed with applications, mixed with framework libraries. I’m surprised they didn’t mix in English, Russian, and Chinese.

  • Suraj Bhandari

    NEPAL, Represent !!!!

  • megakoresh

    Python is exploding right now as a system administration language. Most servers are hosted in wealthy countries. So I don’t see how it even fits into this strange mix anyway.

  • Elio Diaz

    Which is the country variable in stackoverflow data? I only found Users.Location, but it’s a mixture of NAs and city names and country names in other languages

  • Robert Clawson

    ‘Korea uses more Android than we’d expect?’ Hello? Samsung.

  • Twentyfour Seven

    It seems to me that you used raw visits and failed to account for differing numbers of inhabitants. You need to calculate visits per inhabitant first. Also, it is not surprising that English speaking countries rank high on English speaking sites. Programmers with different native languages might search for answers on non-English sites. So you need to include both the language proficiency and the availability of alternative sites (in a given language or country) into your analysis. As it is, your figures are largely meaningless.

  • Enric Mallew

    I guess the reason is that projects that use Python and C++ require a higher investment, that’s why they are less common in places like Brazil or Pakistan.