The Electric Capital Developer Report for 2023 has cast new light on the sector’s challenges, revealing a 25% decline in active developers over the last year, with a total of 22,266 as of the end of 2023, down from 29,606 in the same period of 2022. This drop underscores the industry’s vulnerability to market swings and raises questions about the sustainability of its workforce.

The report also highlights a concerning trend in developer retention, particularly among newcomers. Most developers who joined in 2022 did not stay beyond their first year, resulting in a 53% drop in new entrants. Despite this, there was a silver lining: namely, a 32% increase in the number of established developers — those with over two years of experience in the field. This growth in seasoned professionals suggests a maturing market, where experience is increasingly valued and likely correlated with the complex development needs of advanced blockchain projects.

Electric Capital’s annual developer report is based on tracking of different ecosystems and code and candidate repositories.

Ethereum Is Still Number One

Despite the industry-wide downturn, Ethereum has solidified its position as the epicentre for developer activity, attracting 17,146 new developers in 2023. This influx is 2.7 times the number recorded by the next largest ecosystem, underscoring Ethereum’s strong appeal to developers. The platform has emerged as the starting point for 22% of all new developers entering the crypto domain.

Polygon and Solana trail Ethereum, having onboarded a little over 6,300 and 4,600 new developers, respectively. 

Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM) chains remain dominant, with only 2 of the top 10 blockchains for new devs being non-EVM — Solana and Cosmos. 

Ordinals Give Bitcoin a Boost

Amid the broader contraction, Bitcoin Ordinals have emerged as a niche yet noteworthy area of growth within the Bitcoin ecosystem. While the overall developer count in Bitcoin represents only 2% of the global share, with 1,067 active open-source contributors, the Ordinals Inscriptions sector has attracted 36 developers. This figure, although modest, signals a specific, targeted interest within a development community that is otherwise experiencing a general decline.

This surge is particularly interesting due to some in the Bitcoin community urging for Ordinals to be discontinued because they have slowed down the network. Others, meanwhile, highlight that without Ordinals, the block rewards wouldn’t suffice to keep incentivizing miners to validate transactions 

Read More: Bitcoin Fees Surge to Highest Level Since April 2021 

Multi-Chain Developers

Another noteworthy trend is the increasing number of developers who are not confined to working on a single chain. Approximately 35% of developers now engage with more than one blockchain, indicating a shift toward a more interconnected and versatile development environment.

Amid the overall decline, several ecosystems have demonstrated exceptional growth. dYdX leads the pack with a 520% surge in full-time monthly active developers, while Coinbase’s Base has registered a 420% increase. In terms of total monthly active developers, Base and Scroll saw their numbers swell by 489% and 345%, respectively.