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What Developers Think: Then and Now


Cloud And Multilingual Developers

This year, 8% of developers are creating cloud-based apps, up from about 4% last year. The primary cloud service deployment target is somewhat a surprise: Microsoft's Azure platform as a service is used by 32% of developers who create cloud-based apps. Amazon EC2's infrastructure as a service, which has been available much longer, has been adopted by 24%. Google AppEngine, another platform, has 15%. Platforms as a service are gaining ground because of their automatic scaling across hardware, easier implementation, and ability to deploy in the cloud or locally.

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Developers have long identified themselves by their languages: a Cobol programmer, a Java developer. That's changing, as 57% are comfortable enough in two or more programming languages to produce professional-quality applications. They routinely mix programming languages -- servers written in Java, .NET, and PHP with clients written in JavaScript and Adobe Flex, for instance -- to use the best option. Often, they're open source dynamic languages such as Ruby, Python, and PHP. The coming generation of developers will push to adopt these dynamic languages. IT managers must ensure that processes and application life-cycle management tools can handle the change.

Another slow-burning trend is agile development, used by 37% this year, edging up from 31% last year. Mobile development hasn't taken off the past year, somewhat surprisingly. In 2009, 10% of developers were writing mobile apps, and that edged up to just 13%. Among those mobile developers, 55% are developing for the iPhone, and 36% for the iPad. But developers aren't hedging their bets: 50% are writing for Android, and 42% for Windows. BlackBerry garners only 19%.

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Even more interesting is how they're building mobile apps. Native apps make up 61% of mobile apps being developed. Native apps are written specifically for a target platform -- iPhone apps in Objective-C or Android apps in Java, for instance -- and typically target smartphones. An alternative would be optimizing apps for the mobile browsers, which only 39% are doing. Just 15% use RIA plug-ins.

If there's one takeaway from this year's Forrester-Dr. Dobb's Developer Technographics Survey, it's this: Developers are increasingly driving technology adoption within their development organizations, making choices that can shape technology skills, platforms, and strategies far down the road. Developers are making these choices not for what's cool, but for the practical reasons of how can they meet the business needs of the company more quickly and at lower cost.

Empowering developers this way is proving to be good for developers and for the enterprise as a whole. IT leaders, however, should stay in touch with what decisions their development teams are making.


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