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Developer Survey: Challenges and New Technologies

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Embarcadero Technologies has released its 2010 Developer Survey Report, a survey of 600 professional developers conducted in May-June of 2010. The survey focused on identifying the "top developer trends, challenges, key initiatives, and current tools being used." Survey respondents "were primarily application developers (90%), software architects (48%), database developer (44%), and application developer (24%). Numbers sum to more than 100% due to respondents with multiple roles. Sixty-six percent of the respondents were self-employed or worked for companies with less than 25 employees. 8.5 percent worked for companies with more than 1,000 employees.

The survey covered three primary areas: Windows 7 development, developer trends, and two questions on economic issues.

Survey results on Windows 7 questions:

  • nearly 40% report that they have been using Windows 7 for less than a year, with 16% using the platform for more than a year. less than 10% of respondents said they had "no plans" to develop for the platform.
  • Most respondents (54.4%) are working on enterprise applications. Amost 40% are working on small-business applications and close to 25% are working on inter/intra-net applications.
  • The largest challenge faced by Windows 7 users was the need to support previous versions of the Windows OS (33.5%). Only 3% expressed concerns about the stability or performance of the platform, and only 8% suggested that a lack of development tools presented any kind of challenge.
  • Excitement about using new features of Windows 7 was generated primarily by the touch, multi-touch, and gesture capabilities (38%), but, interestingly, an almost equal number, 34%, found the excitement question non-applicable. It would be interesting to know the attitudes or concerns behind this answer.


Three of the developer trends questions focused on developer tasks/activities and only one addressed technology trends.

  • The three biggest challenges facing developers were: Not enough time for work tasks, poor testing, and lack of requirements. Poor planning and slow or inefficient tools were a close fourth and fifth response. "Inadequate skills" was the least reported challenge.
  • Coding occupied the most time for 37% of the respondents. Testing only made it to 5% of reported time - correlating nicely with the third biggest challenge facing developers. The least amount of time was spent on quality assurance - just over 2%.
  • Asked what they would like more time for, sixty percent of the respondents wanted time to learn new languages and technologies. A nearly equal number (58%) wanted time to keep their skills up to date. About 36% wanted more time to devote to testing.
  • Questioned about trends, 56% said that mobile applications will have the largest impact on development community as a whole. 64-bit computing (50%) and parallel programming (47%) were next. Cloud computing was cited by about 31% of the respondents. Functional programming, an area that has received a lot of attention the past two years, was cited by 10% of the respondents. NoSQL databases (7.8%) was the least cited technology.


The two economy oriented questions concerned self-employed developers making more (43.3%) or less (26.4%) less money compared to five years ago; and, is it harder (43.8%) or easier (22%) to sell applications in today's market.

Embarcadero is an international developer tools company and it was not clear if the survey was sent to their customer base or had wider circulation. Like all surveys, the primary value arises from an opportunity to compare your own experience with that reported. Is your experience and are your expectations consistent with this report?

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