Gitlab's 2018 Global Developer Report

Desk with reports

Software professionals who work in highly collaborative environments recognise the value of doing so. Managers and developers in these spaces tend to be culturally aligned, but workflow and tooling roadblocks can delay delivery, which prevents teams from reaching their maximum potential. Gitlab's 2018 Global Developer Report sheds light on the trends taking place inside of small to mid-sized IT organisations. This report finds that management teams who successfully implement continuous improvement practices have teams who are happier and collaborate more effectively. Practices such as seamless automation across software development lifecycles also can substantially improve a team's performance.

Key findings

Gitlab found that managers have a more optimistic view than developers when it comes to their team's overall satisfaction, productivity, and the benefits of open source tools. Nearly all agree that it's important to work in a collaborative environment; a strong majority (81 percent) say it's easier to collaborate with their team and others within their organisation. Nonetheless, nearly half of the developers surveyed (42 percent) report unclear direction as their top challenge to getting work done.

Overall, remote teams report higher levels of satisfaction than those working in-office and attribute this to higher levels of visibility, better insight into the deployment process and a strong DevOps culture.

Of everyone surveyed:

  • 82 percent believe their organisation has access to the best development tools.
  • 60 percent report that automating more of their software development life cycle is a top priority.
  • 61 percent agree that developers in their organisation understand how these changes can affect the performance of applications.

The top three technologies investments in 2018 are continuous integration, deployment and delivery; automation and containers; and DevOps. The greatest challenges managers are facing boil down to selecting the right technology, giving unclear directions and replacing ingrained practices.

Respondents identified these as the five most important tools to run an efficient team:

  • Version control system.
  • Text editor/integrated development environment.
  • Chat/collaboration tools.
  • Bug/issue trackers.
  • Continuous integration and delivery.

With continuous integration emerging as a major theme in 2018, many managers expect to invest heavily in continuous integration, delivery and deployment with selecting optimal technology as the biggest challenge. Roughly half of everyone surveyed - 47 percent - strongly agree that practicing continuous integration renders blockers in the development workflow process as a much less frequent occurrence. Meanwhile, selecting the right tools to integrate with other tools in their tech stack proves to be a major challenge.

State of the union

This report sets out to examine how the people behind the software that you use deal with a rapidly changing technology landscape. It surveys everyone from junior developers with just a few years' experience to professionals with decades under their belts. It also looks at teams who work remotely and compares them to in-office teams to give insight into the culture of each respectively. By comparing the attitudes of DevOps and agile teams, it aims to expose trends taking place in high-performing environments.

The report confirms that a strong DevOps culture generally produces a high-performing team, due to better visibility and collaboration than lower-functioning teams. High-performing teams recognise the need for access to the best development tools, spend less time context switching, and prefer cloud-based tools. Managers of high-performing teams place prioritise automating the software development lifecycle.

Gitlab found that developers and upper management generally are aligned: both groups place high value on collaboration and communication. Managers, however, are more confident than developers that practicing DevOps saves time in the development process. Another perception gap exists regarding how often organisations deploy code: 47 percent of managers report deploying code on demand or multiple times a day, compared to only 39 percent of developers.


It's not surprising that 94 percent of the people surveyed said that working in an environment where communication and collaboration is key lead to higher levels of job satisfaction. What is surprising is that while the remote workforce only makes up around 10 percent of the entire sample size, 41 percent of remote teams agree that a strong and well-established DevOps culture is key to their success. Only 34 percent of in-office teams said the same. Combine that with the 45 percent of high-performing teams that report having a clear DevOps culture and you'll note that that number is more than double the lower-performing teams who come in at 21 percent.

Participants placed a strong value on working in an environment that respects their decision-making skills when it comes to everyday tasks. While a strong majority said that they find it easy to collaborate with team members, a great deal of them also enjoys the flexibility of working remotely and having their productivity measured not by time spent behind a monitor, but by the merit of their work.

Both high and low performing teams state the same key elements as a challenge, with a lack of leadership support and inadequate workforce training being highest on the list.


The report also looks at process and procedure to determine how developers respond to too much (or too little) oversight. Gitlab found that manual testing and changing plans in the middle of a process - often by nontechnical stakeholders - cause developers unnecessary grief. As one respondent put it, "We need to plan better and automate more," which turned out to be a sentiment echoed by many of the participants of the survey.

When asked to describe their team's development methodology:

  • 69 percent said agile
  • 23 percent said DevOps
  • 16 percent said waterfall
  • 12 percent said conversational development
  • 9 percent said rapid application development

Four percent of participants chose "other" as a response, with "chaos" being the top adjective used to describe the process. Although 69 percent stated agile as their team's development strategy, 67 percent of all who answered confirmed that using a DevOps workflow saves time.


Effective tools help software teams maximise time and energy spent on innovating and creating. Although nearly all managers and developers agree that it is important to have the best available tools, and a strong majority of each group believes it already has access to the best tools, the major technology concerns of both groups revolve around selecting, integrating and adopting tools. Here are some quick facts:

  • Most teams stated that they use from three to six tools to complete the development process.
  • One-third say they use cloud-based tools less than 19 percent of the time, but nearly as many say they use cloud-based tools 80 - 100 percent of the time instead of on-premise.
  • A majority of development teams say they spend less than 40 percent of their time integrating tools while a plurality spend less than 19 percent.
  • 55 percent of respondents say that they lose time to context-switching between tools on a daily basis.

With so many options in a rapidly shifting technology landscape, choosing the optimal tools can be a daunting task. Open source, however, takes the guesswork out of tool selection: It is the clear front-runner among software developers. Open source tools also tend to be better for innovation, security and a smooth development process.

Managers appear to prefer open source over closed source tools even more than developers do. Managers cite improvement in software quality as a main benefit. They also feel more strongly than developers that open source tools increase the speed of development and improve security. Gitlab notes that vendor lock-in may also help explain why managers are more confident about the virtues of open source than developers are.


Gitlab surveyed 5,296 software professionals from around the world, the vast majority of whom are in either Europe (46 percent) or North America (37 percent). Nearly 72 percent of the respondents are male and 70 percent are under the age of 35.

Nearly half of the respondents (44 percent) are in the computer hardware, services and SAAS industries while 61 percent identify as a software developer or engineer, of whom 62 percent identify as a web developer.

Most respondents work for small to medium-sized businesses. Nearly 40 percent work in organisations with 1-9 software developers.

Overall, Gitlab's 2018 Global Developer Report shows the importance of a collaborative environment for an IT organisation's performance. Continuous improvement practices and seamless automation across software development lifecycles, including the selection and implementation of open source tools, can enable a team to reach its goals such as increasing the speed of release of new products as well without sacrificing the quality of final software.