Developers Desperate to Stay Current: Survey

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A new global survey of developers (PDF) reinforces what anyone in the tech industry has known all along: That those who build software for a living are concerned about keeping their skills up-to-date, consider themselves autodidacts when it comes to learning new things, and really like using open-source software.

The survey, conducted by research firm IDC and commissioned by the Application Developers Alliance, drew responses from 850 developers—not a massive cross-section of the world developer population, which easily numbers in the millions, but certainly enough to bring certain trends to light.

Here are some highlights from the study:

  • Some 68 percent of surveyed developers had 5 or more years of experience.
  • Around 57 percent said they were interested in “staying current” about development technology.
  • A full 75 percent used open-source software.
  • Some 83 percent considered themselves “self-reliant,” using online forums and search engines to get job-related help.

The most common tools included code text editors (58 percent of respondents), IDEs (56 percent), SQL databases (50 percent), debuggers (49 percent), and testing tools (42 percent). “Historically, IDEs have been the mainstay of professional developers as they provide a central console for managing most aspects of software projects,” added the survey report. “It is perhaps this constant integration of added function that have given developers some pause in using IDEs in all situations.”

The most popular databases and platforms include MySQL (64 percent of respondents), Microsoft SQL Server (49 percent), SQlite (39 percent), Oracle DB (37 percent), and ProgresSQL (23 percent).

Of all the data-points in the survey, perhaps the most unexpected is the heavy reliance by developers on on-premises servers for backend systems (55 percent) versus the cloud (50 percent). Given the massive amount of hype that’s surrounded the latter, one might have expected more developers to have given up on having servers onsite.

A lot of developers who read the survey will likely see themselves reflected in the results.

11 Responses to “Developers Desperate to Stay Current: Survey”

  1. This is the reason i choose Construction over software. Even in Construction software like Civil3D/AutoCAD/navisworks/Revit there are updates every year that add to much new content to have time knowing all. I coded abit in Occulus for BIM projects and realised im wasting time, it will change alot in the feature ALOT.
    I went from Vba to Vb.NET because Microsoft left vba to die and AutoCAD also. Already there i felt it was much to take on especially when you just code sometimes these days. Thats the main problem i think old code works but new code is faster and easier to implement when you got the knowledge. So a person from University can come work and code better than someone who coded for 10 years and thats impossible with Construction for example. This is not a nice feeling for the older guy.

  2. The core of any specific language will usually stay the same for most of a career, and the frameworks chosen for enterprise projects will generally be in use quite a while unless they are bleeding edge, in which case be prepared, you will likely be doing a lot of refactoring and potentially even redesigning entire sections of your codebase, if you’re not careful.

    C/C++ today still have the same basic functionality as they did back in the 90s. Like Java, which stablized in the early 2000s, they have merely added functionality over time which is increasingly specialized and of interest to smaller and smaller groups directly although the effects are generally beneficial to all. JavaScript is a slight exception here, as it has remained at its core relatively unchanged, what has changed are the frameworks most people use, and they seem to almost be flavor of the day. Similarly, while the HTML spec has changed, core functionality has remained relatively stable. In DB SQL land, if you’re writing for multiple DBs, you tend to stick as closely to ANSI SQL as possible, and that has pretty much been a rock of stability.

  3. It was like I was being asked the questions HAHA.

    Can totally relate to what the statistics say. Open Source and Multilingual. Kinda have to be these days I would think. Build strong foundations and keep the core principles and you can work on the feature updates as they come.

  4. “a person from University can come work and code better than someone who coded for 10 years”

    This is like saying someone fresh out of music school will play the violin better than someone playing for decades. This is simply NOT true and experience is FAR more important than “fresh knowledge” when it comes to programming. You need to have a mind that’s geared towards logical problem solving and knowing the ins and outs of, not just a language, but methodologies and concepts. That’s something that you will only get with experience and no amount of university training can instill.

    An experienced programmer is 100 times more valuable than an entry level programmer and it’s unfortunate that most management and people in general simply fail to understand this.

  5. @Onwuka – That’s the silliest thing I’ve heard in a long time.

    If you are a PHd student from Harvard, the statement applies. You only know what you have seen regardless of your background, experience or skillset.

    Is a circle a “circle” because it’s round?

    I had an education focused on computing in college, but I’ve never seen Erlang. So?…

  6. Ihe Onwuka

    @Sean I don’t know what you did with your college education but because of mine I can figure how certain things are going to work (or not) without having to experience their effects (maybe failure) on a project.