A few months ago, Warp surveyed 1500+ developers about how they use the command line terminal. Specifically, the survey asked questions around common pain points, popular plugins, use of artificial intelligence, types of customizations, and perceived expertise in industry-level developers. What's the story behind the complex relationship between coder and terminal? Here is what the survey revealed.
General Terminal Usage Patterns
What do developers mainly use the terminal for? The data shows that it's essential for common tasks like compiling and running code and version control. Less frequently, respondents turn to the CLI for system monitoring and production debugging.
What is the biggest pain point developers have in the terminal? An overwhelming majority (70%) say that remembering complex terminal commands is the major challenge.
Emergence of AI in the terminal
There's no buzzier technology right now than AI, so how has that penetrated into the command line experience? Surprisingly (or maybe not?) 40% of respondents indicated they do not use any AI tools in the terminal. 10% express no intention to ever integrate with AI.
Of the developers that were interested in the application of AI, 40% believed the biggest impact it would have would be helping with command generation and suggestions. For example, generating a script to run data migration or suggesting hard-to-remember flags in a kubernetes command.
Do Developers Feel Comfortable Using the Terminal?
Did you know that 70% of our respondents marked the terminal as a primary tool in their workflow (meaning that they use it daily), but only 19% consider themselves “experts”?
The terminal is foundational for many developers, but there seems to be a gap - whether in education, confidence, or tool discoverability - that impacts their self-perceived mastery.
Survey Respondent Overview
Of the respondents, over 60% are full-time software engineers at tech companies. There's a relatively even distribution between early levels (1-2 years) and senior levels (15+ years) of coding experience, with a slightly heavier skew towards those who are mid-level (3-5 years). Something important to note is ~80% of the respondents are Mac users.
The command-line remains an indispensable tool at the center of many developer workflows and there is now more visibility into how developers use it, what's lacking, and what the future of it might look like.