Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Julia vs R and Python: what does Stack Overflow Developer Survey 2017 tell us?

TLDR: Most Julia programmers also use Python. However, among all languages R is the one whose users are most likely to also develop in Julia.

Recently Stack Overflow has made public the results of Developer Survey 2017. It is definitely an interesting data set. In this post I analyzed the answers to the question "Which of the following languages have you done extensive development work in over the past year, and which do you want to work in over the next year?" from the perspective of Julia language against other programming languages.

Actually we get two variables of interest: 1) what was used and 2) what is planned to be used.

Basic statistics

Let us start off with raw Julia statistics: 0.18% developers reported having used Julia so it is not much. But 0.67% say that they want to use it next year, which is quite a large expected growth.

As usually developers use several languages, especially for data science, there are two natural questions: 1) what other languages Julia programmers also use and 2) users of what languages also use Julia.

Languages mostly used by Julia programmers

Last year:

  1. Python      73.0%
  2. JavaScript  40.0%
  3. SQL         39.0%
  4. C++         36.0%
  5. C           34.0%
  6. Java        32.0%
  7. R           29.0%
  8. Matlab      21.0%

Plans for next year

  1. Python      64.0%
  2. R           38.0%
  3. JavaScript  29.0%
  4. SQL         26.0%
  5. Go          26.0%
  6. C++         26.0%
  7. Scala       24.0%
  8. Haskell     21.0%

We can see that Python is the most popular language among Julia developers. However, we can see that R can be expected to grow significantly in popularity in the near future.

Users of what languages also use Julia

Last year

  1. R           2.26%
  2. Python      0.79%
  3. C++         0.42%
  4. SQL         0.35%
  5. JavaScript  0.27%

Plans for next year

  1. R           8.73%
  2. Python      2.70%
  3. C++         1.72%
  4. SQL         1.64%
  5. JavaScript  1.09%

Interestingly here the situation is reversed. R developer is much more likely to use Julia than Python programmer. The situation is similar for last year and for plans for the coming year.

Here you can get the code I used to produce the above results.


  1. I'm confused. It says "most" R users also use Julia then it says 2.26%. 2% of R users are "most" R users?

    1. I wanted to say that among all languages R is the language who's users user Julia most. I agree that the wording is confusing and will correct it.

  2. Here we have a great example of Simpson's paradox ;).
    R is used almost 100% by scientific oriented programmers (statistical research, data science...) while python is only used by a fraction as a scientific language, as many people uses as a general purpose language (web programming, OS scripting, apps..). I am almost positive that comparing the people who uses both languages as a scientific oriented language you will obtain similar results (numpy, pandas...).

    1. This is exactly how I understand it :) and that is why I show what programming languages Julia users use.