State of Developer: Autonomy is the future of software development

In the tech world, we generally know a lot about developers, specifically their technical preferences: their preferred programming languages, their preferred frameworks, and the most popular cloud platforms. But what exactly do we know when it comes to less tangible aspects - for example, how and what developers want to work on?

With intense competition for talent, executives should really have a thorough understanding of all the key factors driving development to ensure that development teams are happy and satisfied. Atlassian, through its State of Developer report, which surveyed more than 2,000 developers in Australia, Germany, India, and the U.S., tried to shed more light on exactly these factors.

The results reveal key trends that show how the attitudes and preferences of the international community of developers regarding their work have changed over the past year.

state of developer

Autonomy is the most important thing

The first and most important finding from the report is that more autonomy makes developers happier (over 80 percent). This is true, despite increasing context switches and increasing job complexity. It also turns out that developers who have more autonomy spend more time actually coding and are able to work on a wider range of products and services.

In this regard, company size is an important factor. Larger organizations (250 to 1,000 employees) rank the importance of autonomy particularly high. At a time when work and teams are increasingly distributed, team autonomy is more important than ever before.

Developers take on more responsibility

The practice of "you build it, you run it" has prevailed. Teams not only develop software but also provide support for the code they work on. Nearly 60 percent of developers already work this way, while more than 65 percent of respondents agree that they should take on more responsibility than they currently do in terms of the product lifecycle.

Developers working close to the product have the potential to improve it further especially when there is a high degree of ownership. Development leaders should really give their teams room to adapt "you build it, you run it" and take on more responsibilities.

Coding or tooling?

Two-thirds of survey participants say that writing code is the most important skill in a developer's role, but 58 percent also expect that this will change in the future.

Some developers firmly believe in the future of code writing, while others assume that tools will definitely make this work obsolete. The majority of respondents, however, are somewhere in between. Managers and development leaders should closely follow the evolution of this body of opinion and these preferences, rather than strictly dictating how things should be done.

Fewer tools do not always lead to the best result

The majority of developers use more tools than before (70 percent). That's not necessarily a bad thing, but flexibility is key. Teams with flexible tools say that they make work easier and lead to greater satisfaction. Developers faced with an increasing number of inflexible tools, on the other hand, say they suffer as a result.

Instead of focusing on the sheer quantity of tools available, companies are better off evaluating what actual value a tool can bring developers.

There is no universal approach

Every software developer is different. That's why there's no one-size-fits-all model that works for all teams. But the "State of Developer" report provides helpful insights that can help organizations remain attractive to talent and make existing employees happier.

More autonomy is the future of software development. This includes more freedom to decide which tools to use, what the team works on, and how tasks are completed. In the survey, about half of developers say they already work in an environment with a lot of autonomy, but there's certainly room for improvement.

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