Stack Overflow: Developers are fans of blockchain but most haven't used it much at work

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A survey finds that most people are interested in Ethereum but only 24% have built anything with blockchain.

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Image: iStockphoto/Pavel_R

Developers think blockchain lives up to the hype but most haven't built any products or services with the technology, according to a new survey from Stack Overflow.

Stack Overflow surveyed almost 700 developers to understand how software engineers are thinking about blockchain. The survey found that 61% of respondents think blockchain is a game changer, while 38% think it doesn't live up to the hype. 

Only 24% have built anything with blockchain but 62% of respondents want to do so. Survey respondents who had built with blockchain were more optimistic about its potential. 

SEE: Blockchain: A cheat sheet (TechRepublic)

Among the people working on blockchain projects, 81% are using the blockchain as a side project or hobby with 57% developing blockchain at work. Ethereum is by far the most popular blockchain technology with Hyperledger and OpenChain coming in a distant second and third. Interest in Ethereum has stayed higher than interest in Bitcoin on Stack Exchange sites over the last year.

The most popular languages overall--JS, Python and Java--are the foundations of blockchain.

Unsurprisingly, blockchain questions on Stack Overflow spike around the same moments that bitcoin prices go up, according to the survey report. 

There are opportunities to build blockchain solutions with real-world applications. During the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic, IBM built Rapid Supplier Connect to connect manufacturers that were making masks and other healthcare supplies with medical systems that needed those goods. Suppliers who were new to the medical products market and healthcare buyers registered on the Rapid Supplier website and then connected. The project was built using existing components from other IBM products, including Trust Your Supplier, a blockchain-based platform that provides pre-verified information on suppliers, and the Sterling Supply Chain suite.

At the start of the year, Forrester predicted that 30% of blockchain projects would make it into production due to a more realistic approach about how to use the technology as well as the "pandemic-induced acceleration and initiation of projects that bring measurable benefit within a short timescale." 

Forrester analyst Martha Bennett also predicted that permissioned blockchains will be the most common choice, as the news around public blockchains scare away business leaders worried about compliance and risk. Finally, Bennett expects China to make the fastest progress with the technology, as the country makes blockchain an integral part of the country's digital infrastructure through investments across all verticals.

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