You can learn a lot about the world by paying attention to trends in coding. Hot new tools in computer programming circles often illuminate what people care about and what businesses are investing in.
Trend data from this year suggest that building quickly reactive web pages and data science are increasingly important. Managing the differences between web browsers is less of an issue.
To understand this year’s coding trends, we examined the question-and-answer site Stack Overflow. It’s one of the world’s most visited websites, according Amazon’s Alexa rankings. Programmers use Stack Overflow when they are stumped. They post problems to the site and invite other programmers help them out by suggesting an answer. More than 6,000 questions have been posted per day in 2018, on average.
Vue.js is a tool that makes websites run faster, by only reloading the parts of a page that need to be changed for the site to be reactive, rather than the whole site. Only a little more than 900 questions were asked about Vue.js in January, compared to about 1,600 in November. (We excluded tags with fewer than 0.5% of all the questions in November).
React.js,—the sixth fastest-growing tag on Stack Overflow—is a similar but more popular tool than Vue.js. The rise of React and Vue is a result of companies increasingly needing webpages that are fast and nimble, particularly companies that are selling products and don’t want to lose customers because their site is too slow.
DataFrame and Pandas, the third and fourth fastest-growing tags, are coding tools for manipulating data. Two others—Python, the most popular coding language for data scientists, and TensorFlow, an application for doing machine learning—are among the top 11.
On the other hand, the second biggest faller is Excel-VBA—a tool for doing complicated analysis in Microsoft Excel. This is a sure sign that data scientists today are abandoning Excel for programming languages like Python and R that offer am easier environment for big data tasks.
The fastest-declining tag, with less than half as many questions in November as in January, was Twitter Bootstrap. One of the primary uses of that tool was that it makes website layout appear properly in different browsers. Historically, browsers sometimes interpreted code very differently, so tools to make sure they looked right on different browsers were necessary. Today, websites appear properly at different screen sizes and across different browsers, so tools like Twitter Bootstrap are not as useful.