What Do Software Developers Use in Germany?

Software development is a global industry, and programmers everywhere rely on Stack Overflow to find solutions to their problems. But as we’ve analyzed before, different countries use different languages and technologies.

In this post we’ll take a look at German software developers, as seen by their Stack Overflow visits. We’ll see how the programming languages and technologies they use differ from the rest of the world, and how they differ within major cities in the country. All of these analyses are of 2017 year-to-date, from January to mid-September.

Germany is responsible for 4.53% of global Stack Overflow traffic, which makes it the 4th largest source of traffic around the world. It’s also responsible for asking 4.72% of questions and writing 6.23% of answers (which makes it also ranked 4th by those metrics).

Languages and technologies

The languages and technologies a country’s developers use tend to reflect the needs of its software development industry. What do German developers work with more often, or less often, than the rest of the world?

We’ve previously discovered that high-income countries (as defined by the World Bank) show a different pattern of technologies visited. High-income countries tend to visit more Python and R, and less Android and PHP, than the rest of the world. If we compared Germany to the rest of the world, we’d be repeating some of those results. Therefore, in this post we’ll focus on comparing Germany’s traffic to developers in the rest of the high-income world, made up largely of countries like the US, UK, Canada and France.

What tags were most visited from Germany?

The four most-visited tags in Germany are the same as they are in the rest of the high-income world: namely Java, Python, JavaScript, and C#. (Python became the most-visited tag in high-income countries only in summer 2017). But some tags overrepresented in Germany include C++ and C. For instance, C++ is the 10th most-visited tag in high-income countries in general, but it’s the 5th most-visited in Germany.

The above graph shows only the 25 highest-traffic tags in each region. Among the 100 most-visited tags, which were most over- or under-represented in German traffic to Stack Overflow, compared to high-income countries in general?

We see again that C++ is disproportionately visited from Germany, but that WPF, a framework for building desktop applications in Windows, is the most overrepresented tag overall. Both matplotlib and NumPy make the list as well, suggesting Germany may have a disproportionate number of Python data analysts.

Many of the most under-represented tags are Microsoft technologies such as ASP.NET, SQL Server, and Linq, along with some web technologies like React and Ruby on Rails. It’s interesting that WPF and WinForms go against this trend as the only Microsoft technologies more visited from Germany than elsewhere. This may suggest that while the Microsoft stack is used less for web development than in other countries, German developers are disproportionately likely to develop Windows desktop applications.

Cities in Germany

What cities in Germany did the most traffic come from?

This is similar to the list of largest German cities by population, except we notice that Munich has nearly twice the traffic of Hamburg despite having a lower population. Karlsruhe also drives more Stack Overflow traffic than we’d expect from its population, which analysis shows is mostly thanks to the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology.

We’ve previously compared the languages and technologies used between cities like London and San Francisco. How do the two highest-traffic cities in Germany, Berlin and Munich, compare?

This shows a clear difference between the two. Relatively more web development takes place in Berlin than in Munich, with far more visits to tags such as ReactJS, Django, PHP, CSS. We saw that Ruby on Rails is under-visited in Germany overall, but we can see that the Rails development that does happen is disproportionately centered in Berlin.

Munich developers are more likely to visit Microsoft tags such as VBA, Excel, Visual Studio and WPF. This may be because Microsoft’s German office is in Munich, or because Munich has a disproportionate number of developers working in finance.

What if we compared the six highest-traffic cities, examining which technologies are visited most in each relative to the overall average?

One of the most notable differences is that Frankfurt has a disproportionate number of visits to Excel, VBA, and Oracle, likely because of its status as a major financial center of Europe. We can see that Berlin and Hamburg are more likely to visit Ruby than the other cities, likely because they are hubs of startups and media companies. Munich and Stuttgart are each home to large universities, which may explain why they visit more MATLAB, C and C++ (Stuttgart is also known for its automobile production, including the headquarters of Mercedes-Benz and Porsche). We’d be interested in other insights from German software developers.

Conclusion

In future posts we’re planning to spotlight other countries, and examine what programming languages and technologies tend to be used there based on their Stack Overflow traffic.

If you’re a software developer in Germany, whether in Berlin, Munich, Hamburg, or elsewhere, and are looking to take the next step in your career, here are some companies hiring in Berlin and elsewhere in Germany right now on Stack Overflow Jobs.

Author

David Robinson
Data Scientist

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Comments

  • Daniel Lohmann

    Software development in Germany is mostly about embedded systems, so it should not come at a surprise that C/C++ are more dominant here than in similarly developed countries. The majority of developers does not work in the “software industry”, but in more “classic” industry branches around the engineering and production of physical goods (which, as the numbers also show, are concentrated in the southern part of the country).

    Siemens, for instance, is said to be the largest German “software company” (wrt. staff employed in software development). However, their “software products” are not typically available in an app store – it’s all deeply embedded into physical Siemens products.

    • NewWorld

      If it’s “mostly” about embedded, then why are the top 4 tags java, python, javascript, C# ? And then the 7 tags after C++ are also not related to embedded programming. I think you are affected by a selection bias.

      • Daniel Lohmann

        ” I think you are affected by a selection bias.” Sure, that may be the case.
        However, my C/C++ argument was more about the comparison between Germany and similarly developed countries. I am not so sure if we can read a lot from the relative order of tags within the country, as I consider the SO data to have a high implicit bias in itself: (1) In my experience, SO is very well-known among “the Web 2.0 kids”, but not that much among experienced developers (20+ years in the industry), which could explain a relative overweight of tags referring to more recent technology. (2) While open-source has been taking a lot of pace recently, most embedded development is based on proprietary tools, architectures and compilers most people here at SO have never heard about, but for which their vendors provide professional (well, expensive) support. Some dominant market players (such as Tasking compilers, Lauterbach debuggers, TriCore architecture, …) may be relatively underrepresented in SO questions and answers.

        • NewWorld

          (1) I find that hard to believe given that most searches about programming problems yield SO links among the first results. It would be very hard as a programmer to not know about this website.

          (2) Yet you don’t have the data to show whether 1000 people are using those proprietary, embedded toolchains, or 5 million; which is why I said your claim suffers from a selection bias. C/C++ and related embedded technologies might be underrerpresented, but I would be surprised if this “hidden” segment of the workforce was the majority of software developers in Germany.

  • Michael Kay

    There are lots of things wrong with the methodology. (a) StackOverflow usage is not necessarily proportional to technology usage (perhaps SO figures tell you what beginners are using, not what experts are using?); (b) it may be distorted by language and culture, e.g. German PHP users might have poorer English than German MATLAB users, and therefore use StackOverflow less, or German motor manufacturers might discourage of disallow use of StackOverflow (I’m not saying that they do, just that you can’t assume they don’t), (c) corporate users often use VPN networks which disguise the country of origin of the traffic. For all we know, some of these technologies are well supported by German-language forums that compete with StackOverflow, and others aren’t.

    • js

      Yes I think we’re all aware of statistical bias. If you want to take care of the issues that you think are issues you could do your own surveying and maybe complete the data. You may also find that they’re insignificant, and that the assumptions are not at all wrong. You’re making conjecture but also have no data to prove your point.

      • Michael Kay

        My only point is that these conclusions are unreliable (I’m not saying they are wrong). I don’t need data to prove that.

  • Traugott Müller

    Interesting analyses but not at all surprising, if you live in Germany. Of course, Berlin is the top city in traffic, because it has almost twice as much inhabitants than the 2nd largest city Hamburg. The biggest surprise for me of this analysis is that Hamburg is only in 4th place, but on the other hand, Munich has only about 300k less inhabitants, but is the center of many large companies like Allianz AG or BMW, so I guess that explains why they generate more traffic (=more people working in places where you have to use a wide array of technologies).
    In Hamburg more people work in shipping companies or in the media business. Two branches I wouldn’t immediatly link to “use of new technologies”, but then again, my image of those branches might be outdated and there’s a totally different explanation. 🙂

    Frankfurt in 3rd has to be because of the financial business, as the “tags visited compared to other cities” suggest.

  • AgapwIesu

    “while the Microsoft stack is used less for web development than in other countries”… I do not find that statement to be exactly accurate. The Microsoft stack for web development would include HTML, Javascript, and C#, all of which are in the top four for Germany, just like it is for other countries. It is only when you get to the back-end of the stack, data server, that you see a drop away from Microsoft. It would be more accurate to limit that whole statement to just the back end database work, rather than making it as if the entire Microsoft stack is less represented in Germany.

    • David Robinson

      The idea behind that hypothesis is that any web development stack (Java, Python, PHP, Rails, Node, etc) would visit the HTML and Javascript tags, so their usage could correspond to any kind of backend. Similarly, C# could be used for either desktop or web development. However, tags that are associated with both Microsoft and web development, particularly ASP.NET, SQL Server, and their variations, are all under-visited in Germany.

      This is consistent with a hypothesis where Germany has more Windows desktop development than most countries, but less Microsoft stack web development, leading to C# staying in place (it wasn’t particularly over- or under-represented).

      • AgapwIesu

        Saying that SQL Server is “associated with both Microsoft and web development” is not correct. SQL Server can be and is as easily used for desktop as it is for web development. There is nothing that particularly ties it to web development. That leaves you with only ASP.NET, which by itself would seem to tend to make your point. But a single data point like that is dangerous. It could just as easily display a German dislike for the imprecision of the ASP.NET tag.

        • David Robinson

          These numbers are based on questions visited, not questions asked. The hypothesis that it comes from dislike of a particular tag would mean Germans would need to somehow know that a page had the ASP.NET tag before they viewed it, and decide not to visit it.

        • AgapwIesu

          Ahh! (about the questions visited vs. asked) And, on second reading of that entire section of your article, I see how you are putting things together, and supporting the ASP.NET under-representation with WPF and WinForms over-representation, and I think you are right. There really does seem to be an indication that the Microsoft stack is “used less for web development than in other countries”. I stand corrected.

          • David Robinson

            Great!

  • Stefan474

    > Germany is responsible for 4.53% of global Stack Overflow traffic, which makes it the 4th largest source of traffic around the world.

    Have you published that kind of statistics somewhere? I’m interested in more details.

  • Tierlieb

    As a German, some things seem obvious:
    Berlin is the start-up capital and the tech choices reflect that.
    And Munich is becoming a high tech city as the crazy hiring politics of BMW show.
    I am surprised that Rewe Digital and Obi Next (both also hiring like crazy – I should know, trying to hire devs there) do not show a bigger impact on Cologne, though.

    • Shaun

      Hi Tierlieb – what is BMW up to?

      • Jonathan Kline

        modern vehicles use a ton of code, and BMW makes modern vehicles

  • Tyler Hibbard

    Can you please add attribution to the header image of the post, or at least a caption, so people know where it came from and what it is a picture of?

  • Florian Schultheis

    For all the people in Karlsruhe it is really hard to see that Stuttgart is better. But to have a “fairer” competition they invented the Karlsruhe TechnologyRegion (which spans from Landau in the North-West to Bretten in the East and Bühl in the South) which would change the ranking a lot I think 🙂

  • German software developers build mosques.

  • Myroslav Pituley

    Love these posts. Please keep them coming. Would be interested to see such analysis for Canada.

  • Joachim

    The Karlsruhe region is a bit special, the local university’s IT department has been pretty good for a long time, turning out more graduates than the local industry actually needed. (The “technology region” thing is an attempt to capitalize on that.)
    So it is not surprising that SO gets more visits than population numbers alone could justify. Since there’s an oversupply of graduates, they are all building skills to finally get a well-paid job, so they are even more likely than the average programmer to go to SO.
    (Disclaimer: I have not closely followed how much IT industry has been flocking to Karlsruhe in the past 20 years. These things tend to change relatively slowly, so the picture I am painting above should still be half-accurate but it is not the Word of Truth.)

  • Lluis Martinez Ferrando

    Excel is hot in Frankfurt for some reason.

    • asdf

      because it is financial center.

  • Michael Rätzel

    In germany, I use elm, asp.net core and C#.

  • LOKESH PANDEY

    Would you please share the status of India. Thanks

  • excel is hot in everywhere

  • Antonello Lobianco

    Is this analysis available for other countries (or the input data and the script that generate the result is public?)

  • Koyi Nagaraju

    I want this analysis for India also. is it available for India too.AppsAthena

  • Aslan Naurzbai

    pls, make same thing for Kazakstan – i wonder what tech stack is hot in here!

  • Twentyfourseven

    Much of the industry in Germany is not in big cities. Berlin is an exception, because of its history, and Munich is somewhat centralised also. But Stuttgart may be underrepresented because many high tech companies (e.g. suppliers to Stuttgart’s automobile industry) reside in the smaller cities around Stuttgart and the rural areas of Baden-Württemberg. For example, here is a map that shows the distribution of software companies in Germany: http://www.gfk-geomarketing.com/fileadmin/newsletter/map_of_the_month/08_2013.html What you can clearly see is that many software companies reside in areas where there are only small towns, and your analysis fails to catch these “non-centralised centers”. The distribution of other software using industries (research, finances, etc.) looks similar, but with a different regional structure. You would get a more accurate image of regional differences if you didn’t look at cities but at industrial regions or maybe at SO activity per capita.

  • My only point is that these conclusions are unreliable (I’m not saying they are wrong). I don’t need data to prove that.

    http://matlabhome.ir/%D8%A7%D9%86%D8%AC%D8%A7%D9%85-%D9%BE%D8%B1%D9%88%DA%98%D9%87-%D9%87%D8%A7%DB%8C-%D9%85%D8%AA%D9%84%D8%A8/

  • Eduardo Cucharro

    How would it be if you sum .net and c# and plot on charts? Would it be up in the rank?