PostgreSQL now top developer choice ahead of MySQL, according to massive new survey

PostgreSQL now top developer choice ahead of MySQL, according to massive new survey

A survey of 90,000 developers shows that PostgreSQL is ahead of MySQL as the choice of database engine, a notable change from the same survey last year.

The May 2023 survey, conducted by developer Q&A site Stack Overflow, has 45.55 percent of respondents using PostgreSQL, versus 41.09 percent MySQL and 30.9 percent SQLite. Three years ago, the same survey had MySQL at 55.6 percent and PostgreSQL at 36.1 percent, showing how quickly usage in this group has grown. Microsoft’s SQL Server, the highest ranking fully commercial database engine, is used by 25.45 percent, down from 33 percent in 2020.

Top databases in new developer survey

Since this is a developer survey, it does not reflect usage in production. DB-Engines maintains a rank based on general interest across the web which puts Oracle top, followed by MySQL, SQL Server, and PostgreSQL fourth. Note also that MySQL or its fork MariaDB is generally used by the hugely popular WordPress content management system, accounting for substantial production use. Nevertheless, the fact that developers are choosing PostgreSQL for the applications they are working on is a significant vote of confidence, and it may be a leading indicator of production use.

PostgreSQL gets its name from post-Ingres, since it began as a project to improve on the Ingres database engine back in the 1980s. It is cross-platform, free and open source.

According to the new survey, JavaScript remains the top programming language though fractionally down from last year – 63.61 percent of developers use it, versus 65.36 percent in 2022. Second-placed (discounting HTML) Python is fractionally up, to 49.28 percent, and third-placed (discounting SQL) TypeScript up, from 34.83 percent to 38.87 percent. Rust is well down the list, but has grown from 9.32 percent to 13.05 percent over the year. And Zig makes the list for the first time, at 0.83 percent, perhaps thanks to interest in the bun JavaScript runtime, built with Zig.

In Cloud Platforms the survey covers a broader range than before. AWS, Azure and Google remain the top three, but new to the list are Cloudflare (15.24 percent), Vercel (10.68 percent, home of the Next.js framework), and Netlify (8.95 percent home of the Gatsby framework). All three are examples of edge computing which is a significant trend, and considering that they are relative newcomers, have a good showing here.

Some sections of the survey are hard to make sense of because they do not list like with like. Node package manager (npm) is not an alternative to Docker, for example, but both are listed under “other tools.” There is an intriguing stat under Synchronous Tools though, where Microsoft Teams has won the top spot for usage – at 51.71 percent – over Slack at 47.59 percent and Zoom at 45.25 percent. That is a change from last year when Zoom was top, followed by Teams and then Slack. Do developers like Teams though? Apparently not.

“Microsoft Teams and Zoom have the lowest proportion of users that want to continue using given first-hand experience out of the top five solutions users want to use next year,” states the Admired and Desired section of the survey, which aims to measure which tools devs actually like using.

What about AI? Stack Overflow has special interest in this, despite the calamitous impact on its community. According to the survey, “70 percent of all respondents are using or are planning to use AI tools in their development process this year,” the top driver being to increase productivity. However the devs are not all that trustful of the output from AI tools, with only 2.85 percent ticking “highly trust” and 39.3 percent “somewhat trust.” The rest are even more skeptical. It seems AI coding help is in the curious position of being widely regarded as beneficial but not reliable.