What Developers Want in 2022: Trends to Keep An Eye On
July 20, 2022

Roxie Elliott

As technical recruiters know, the developer landscape today looks significantly different from the landscape of a year or two ago. Developers, like other employees, are adapting to changing workplace trends and adopting different perspectives on what work-life balance means for them.

Technical Debt in the Workplace and Open Source

DigitalOcean's latest Currents report findings show that technical debt and lack of resources are among the top challenges faced by developers today. Technical debt, defined within the survey as prioritizing the speed of delivery over the quality of code, hinders developers from making sustainable progress on important projects, and 19% of respondents named this as one of their top barriers. 18% also said the lack of resources and time was a key challenge, exacerbating the existing issue of technical debt.

Developers also cited lack of time as one of their biggest barriers to contributing to open source projects. 50% of respondents participated in open source projects over the past year, and a large majority of developers (79%) agree that companies should be providing time for developers to contribute to open source during work hours. Payment within the open source community also continues to be a hotly debated topic — only 20% of developers report being paid for their open source contributions. In comparison, 53% agree or strongly agree that individuals should get paid for their contributions.

Greater Flexibility Within Roles

The survey found that over a quarter of developers who have been in the workforce for over a year started a new job in the past year, reflecting the "great reshuffling" that has accompanied the Great Resignation. This reshuffling hasn't quite stopped either — 42% of developers who haven't left their jobs yet are considering or may consider leaving their current jobs this year.

Both those who have already started a new job and those looking to change jobs are motivated by factors that are becoming increasingly in demand: higher compensation, greater flexibility/full-time remote work, and better benefits.

Findings also showed a small but notable inclination toward entrepreneurship among developers. 8% of developers that left a job in the past year did so to start their own companies, and 8% of those looking to leave their jobs soon are also considering entrepreneurship as a viable path.

Emerging Tools

Developers' day-to-day is still ruled by popular programming languages such as Python (21%) and JavaScript (17%), but emerging tools and technologies across cloud computing, AI/ML, and low-code/no-code are beginning to catch their interest.

The use of containers and container orchestration systems such as Kubernetes continues to grow among developers. 68% of respondents use containers for a variety of projects, both work and non-work related, and 69% expect their usage to increase in the next year. Serverless computing is also on the rise: 43% of respondents currently use serverless technology, and 61% expect their usage to continue to increase.

For buzzier technologies such as AI/ML and Web3/blockchain, developer sentiment and usage is more mixed. Forty-three percent don't currently use AI/ML in their projects, though 41% say their usage of AI/ML will increase this year, showing that those already using the technology expect that usage to grow. Blockchain and Web3 prove to be in an even earlier stage of adoption — 67% of developers don't use blockchain or Web3 technology, and only 22% see their usage increasing this year.

Low-code and no-code tools are in a similar boat to the blockchain debate, though developer sentiment does differ with years of experience. Overall, 21% of respondents thought low-code/no-code tools are over-hyped, but those developers with fewer years of experience were much more likely to find these tools helpful. Those with more than 15 years of experience were more likely to report that they are overhyped.

As the tech industry changes, so do the developers within it. Developers today are more interested in managing their own time and building flexible schedules than ever. This includes not only remote work accommodations but incorporating novel ideas and tools such as open source time into their work day and perhaps the use of low-code/no-code tools for certain tasks going forward. As companies learn to adapt to these changes, they'll be better poised to compete in the market and more effectively attract the talent they need to build successful products and businesses.

Roxie Elliott is Director of Content Marketing at DigitalOcean
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