19 Frameworks, Libraries, and Tools That Developers Love (and Hate)

Developers generally exhibit a strong affinity (usually paired with an equally strong hatred) for certain frameworks, libraries, and tools. But which ones do they love, dread, and want the most? Stack Overflow, as part of its enormous, annual Developers Survey, asked that very question, and the answers provide some interesting insights into how developers work. 

Some 65,000 developers responded to the survey, and the sheer size of that sample makes these breakdowns a bit more interesting to parse. For example, although game developers might have strong opinions about Unreal Engine and Unity 3D (which placed high on the following lists), those aren’t used at all by the bulk of developers concerned with A.I. and machine learning, who have strong feelings about TensorFlow that many other developers might not share. In other words, given the high degree of specialization involved in many frameworks, libraries, and tools, it seems problematic to declare any of them the ‘most loved’ or ‘most dreaded’ among developers overall.

Most Loved

All of that aside, this Stack Overflow breakdown is a good way to judge some very broad sentiments among the developer community, so long as you keep in mind that, at least in this case, it’s not the most nuanced tool. Developers cited the following among the most-loved frameworks, libraries, and tools that the actively used:

(Percentages in these graphs total way over 100 percent because respondents could choose multiple options.) What can we conclude from this list? .NET Core and Flutter seem pretty obvious choices for developers concerned with building apps, while the high ranking of Torch/PyTorch nods to the generalized interest in integrating machine learning into applications.

Most Dreaded

The most-dreaded frameworks, libraries and tools—i.e., those that developers currently use, and have no interest in wanting to use in the future—include Chef, Cordova, and Puppet. That’s interesting, given how employer demand for Chef and Puppet has extended back several years and are typically cited by companies looking for DevOps specialists. When it comes to tools for streamlining the configuration and management of servers, in other words, a lot of developers are using Chef and Puppet—but they really don’t like it.   

Most Wanted

Last but certainly not least: the most-wanted frameworks, libraries and tools. According to Stack Overflow’s methodology, developers aren’t actually using these, but they’ve expressed interest in working with them at some point. 

Given the popularity of JavaScript, it’s unsurprising that Node.js (an open-source JavaScript runtime environment) hit the top of the most-wanted list. Developers who do use Node.js rely on it for everything from back-end services to crafting web apps. TensorFlow, in second place, is pretty interesting—it shows a growing interest in artificial intelligence, since TensorFlow is an open-source library for deep learning software (developed by Google). 

Whatever their specialization, the good news is that developers who want to learn a new framework or tool are free to do so. Getting rid of a bad framework or tool can prove a little more difficult, though, if your company or team is dedicated to using it; in those cases, it may take lots of negotiation and persuasion (and perhaps a good deal of work, depending on project stage) to shift to a suitable alternative. 

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