Python Developers Survey: Python 2 clings on for certain use cases

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A new survey from the Python Software Foundation has found that while Python 3 remains dominant both for work and play, usage of Python 2 crept up from the previous year.

The study, in association with JetBrains which polled more than 23,000 Python developers, found 93% of respondents had already implemented Python 3, based on responses from the end of 2022. Yet this was down on the 95% cited from the previous year.

To find a reason why, there are a few small clues based on Python version use cases. Python 2 remains more popular for less common use cases, ranging from computer graphics (24% of respondents citing Python 2 versus 11% for Python 3), to game development (13%/8%), mobile development (13%/5%) and multimedia app development (11%/5%).

In contrast, the most common use cases, data analysis (54%/29%), web development (46%/19%) and machine learning (38%/13%) showed the clearest lean towards Python 3. DevOps, sysadmin and writing automation scripts, which were categorised in one bucket in the report, saw a slight preference towards the previous iteration, with 23% for Python 2 and 36% for 3.

This lean could also be seen in assessing whether Python was a primary or secondary language for developers polled across use cases. For DevOps, sysadmin and automation, there was little to choose; 35% use Python as primary and 34% secondary. For the three primary use cases however – data analysis (53% primary, 44% secondary), web development (45%/31%) and machine learning (37%/29%) – there was greater separation.

86% of Python developers polled use other languages. JavaScript remains the most popular, cited by 37% of those polled, although it saw a downturn from 2021 (40%), as did HTML/CSS, which remained the second most popular (36% 2022, 38% 2021). SQL, cited by 34% of respondents, Bash/Shell (31%), and C/C++ (29%) were also keenly noted.

When it came to web frameworks, it was a dead heat between Flask and Django at 39% apiece. FastAPI was cited by one in four Python developers, gaining four percentage points on the previous year.

Overall, more than half of those polled (51%) said they used Python both for work and personal projects. Only one in five (21%) said they used Python exclusively for work, compared with 28% who use the language exclusively for educational, personal, or side projects.

The survey results which showed a slight uptick for Python 2 makes for interesting timing, coming in the same week that Python 3.12.0 was officially released. New features include more flexible f-string parsing, support for the buffer protocol in Python code, as well as a new debugging/profiling API. You can see the full list of features here.

Photo by David Clode on Unsplash

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