Trend Watch: 4 Ways Developers Have Changed Since 2006
Guest post by Al Hilwa, IDC Program Director, Application Development Software
You have probably often heard the phrase “It is a great time to be a developer.” But it is not always made clear just how much better it is to be a developer today than it was, say, ten years ago.
An IDC published report from almost a decade ago sized the worldwide developer population in 2006 at 12.2 million. In 2014, a report we published put developers at 18.5 million.
In other words, developer population had grown by over 50% in eight years. So what has changed during that time?
- The Digital Transformation Journey
One important change has been the shift of software development from effectively 100% enterprise focused in 2006, to one that is much more balanced across the business and consumer sphere. As part of the Developer Insights Report: A Global Survey of Today’s Developer, 71% of developers highlighted that they write both enterprise and consumer applications.
What Caused the Change
The mobile device revolution, the arrival of the Apple iPhone, and the app economy it heralded has transformed the Web from a universe dominated by static websites to a dynamic e-commerce and content machine. While a whole number of new businesses have carved out a place on the map by catering to consumers – the great examples here are Amazon, Netflix, Pandora, Uber, and many others – many traditional companies are only just embarking on what has become known as the digital transformation journey.
Here manufacturers, retailers, and healthcare companies are building customer engagement systems using both mobile and web technologies. In fact, mobile software development is now the norm.
About 87% of the survey’s respondents are engaged in mobile development, and 18% cited organizational commitment to a mobile-first approach.
Both web and native mobile technologies are almost equally as popular with developers, as about 70% cited using each, with web developers using mobile web and hybrid web technologies with almost equal incidence.
- Rise of Open Source Software
Another important area in which developers have changed is with respect to the use of open source software. In certain parts of the software industry, it is impossible to launch a new startup without a business model that relies on some open source software upstream. Especially for technologies that depend on their business success on early adoption of developers, it is next to impossible to attract attention without putting some intellectual property in open source so developers can play with before making a commitment.
In the survey fielded by IDC and Application Developers Alliance (ADA), 77% of developers said they use open source, and some 43% said they contribute to open source.
The idea goes beyond the notion that the code should be open for kicking its tires. Developers want to see software that comes with some body of expertise and there is no faster way to quickly build expertise than making code open for developers to look at and play with.
Such communities have become essential in providing developer support in a way that few vendors, especially starts up, can afford to match. In the survey, 55% of developers said they go to independent community web-sites (e.g. StackOverflow) to get their questions answered, only second to using a search engine (63%) and certainly more often than relying on vendor sources (38%).
Developers are voting with their code and highlighting that they do not want to adopt technologies that are tied completely to the fortunes or whims of a single vendor. Open source provides this important outlet for strategic safety in today’s software development universe.
- Willingness to Learn New Programming Languages
When asked on their most pressing long-running challenges, 57% of developers cited staying current with new languages, frameworks and tools, which received more votes than any other challenge.
This is not surprising since 88% of the developers surveyed said that they use more than one programming language with 18% saying they use five or more.
This is a marked difference from the kind of data IDC used to get eight years ago, where a very small percentage cited using more than two or three languages.
- Changing Gender Mix
The fourth and last major change we are seeing in software development is the change in the gender mix of developers. Historical data on software developers worldwide shows that the ratio of men to women developers has ranged from 10% to 25%, depending on the country.
A survey question that asked developers on the number of years of their experience highlighted that many more women are joining the developer ranks in recent years. The survey data showed that newer developers, those who have been developing for 1 or 2 years, are 30-40% female compared to the 10-20% female range for developers who have been developing for 10 years or more.
Nothing stands still, least of which is the world of software developers, which sits at the epicenter of the digital transformation taking place today. The survey data shows that these transformations mean that exciting new challenges and opportunities await developers as we move forward.
Dive into the details of this report yourself at http://www.appdevelopersalliance.org/developer-insights-report-2015.