React is now effectively part of the Rails stack

In the most recent Stack Overflow Annual Developer Survey, (see my writeup here) React.js is the top-ranked web framework, with over 41% of respondents saying they use it. This fact got me thinking about how often I see React mentioned in Ruby on Rails job postings on RailsGigs–because I can tell you it’s a lot!

So I decided to take a look at the data. Let’s go!

In the past five or so months, RailsGigs has published 1,662 job posts. Of those, 841 of them mention “react.” That’s 50.6% of all job postings! I knew it was a lot, but I was pretty shocked that it was just more than half.

(If we only consider the job postings that are currently live, 50.0% of them mention React.)

Here’s some pie for you:

More than half of all job posting descriptions on RailsGigs mention React

I audited 25 of these job postings to understand the context in which the term “react” is used. 60% of the postings state straight up that the employer using React as part of their Rails stack. 52% of them ask for “experience,” while another 12% use it in the context of a “nice to have.” One posting even uses it in the context of “aptitude.”

So, while employers sometimes mention React in the context of “you should know some Javascript like React or Vue or something,” the anecdotal evidence is that React is actually in use at a whole lot of Ruby on Rails shops.

60% of employers state that React is part of their stack. Over 50% ask for some amount of experience while just over 10% list it as a “nice to have.”

To give you a sense of how often “react” is appearing alongside other Javascript or frontend-related words, here’s the frequency of some others:

What took me back in this data is that React appears more often than Javascript!

The other big surprise is that Ember has such a strong showing. In some sense, not a surprise as, at one point, Ember was kind of going to be “the Javascript Rails.” (And maybe it is?) I didn’t dig into the data to see if it was a requirement in job postings or not. That’s a project for another day.

Hotwire and Stimulus have a pretty weak showing. Is that a surprise or not? I do know that I’m expecting those numbers to grow steadily in the next 12 months.

When one looks at the data, it’s pretty dang hard to argue that React isn’t a de facto part of the “Rails” stack. It feels like this is a new topic for, uh, “healthy conversation” right alongside “Minitest vs. RSpec,” “fixtures vs. factories,” and so on. 

I would not be surprised to find that React adoption has peaked. And like I said: I would further predict that Stimulus and Hotwire gain a lot more adoption in the coming year. I look forward to a future or more HTML and CSS with more judicious use of Javascript, generally.

If you think this is interesting or have a question you think this data can answer, hit me up in the comments or reach out at @mjbellantoni. And if you’d like to post your job on RailsGigs, lemme know!

Stack Overflow’s Developer Survey and Ruby

Stack Overflow has just released its annual Developer Survey for 2021. Since it contains some numbers relating to Ruby, and graphing software and blogging software exist, I figured I’d graph those numbers and blog about them.

I was able to find the data back to 2013 quickly. Where available, I took the numbers reported for professional developers and not the entire population of respondents since that’s of most interest to me.

I think we need to approach this data as pretty coarse-grained. That is, the number of survey respondents varies pretty significantly from year to year. So, we can rely upon it for only the broadest of trends.

So, without much further ado, here are the charts. First, here’s the trend in percentage of survey respondents who are using Ruby.

Graph showing the Percentage of Stack Overflow Developer Survey Respondents Using Ruby
Percentage of Stack Overflow Developer Survey Respondents Using Ruby

First of all, I’m sure this number is lower than it was at Rails’ peak popularity, probably around 2010. (Google Trends says 2007.) While Ruby’s popularity may be trending down, I could also argue that it might be cyclical at this point? Anyway, as a lover of Ruby and Rails, I’d love to see this number rocketing up. But this feels kind of stable to me, and I’ll take it.

And here is Ruby’s ordinal rank among all of the “Programming, Scripting, and Markup Languages.”

a graph showing the Ordinal Rank of Ruby's Popularity in Stack Overflow's Developer Survey
Ordinal Rank of Ruby’s Popularity in Stack Overflow’s Developer Survey

This one is up and to the right, baby! Woo hoo! Oh, wait.

So, Ruby is decidedly out of the top ten and possibly destined to sink further? I do wonder if this is a product of Ruby’s declining popularity, or instead due to the appearance of many new languages on the scene in the past decade or so. It looks like it’s Go and Kotlin that have pulled ahead.

In conclusion, I’m a partisan here, and I’d love to see these numbers unequivocally more vital. But my roses interpretation is that these are the numbers of a healthy technology and community.

But I still feel pretty great about being in the Ruby world! Anecdotally, it feels like Ruby and Rails are on fire these days. There are several new Ruby implementations underway. Folks are doing some exciting work on other web frameworks. Shopify, GitHub, and Basecamp are all making significant contributions to Rails, making it ever more feature-rich.

On the employment side, Rails developers seem to be in demand as ever. When I curate job descriptions at RailsGigs, a bunch of them are looking for Rails and some other technology (e.g., Elixir.). Along with comments like this, it makes me wonder if folks who decamped from Ruby as their backend web development language are making their way back? Anyway, that’s something I’m hoping to unpack later and in more detail.

I’d love to hear your thoughts! You can find me on Twitter and LinkedIn. Thanks for reading!