Browsers, Java Dominate Development

Over half of software developers are now using browsers as a client UI in at least some portion of the new apps they are writing, and this is true for enterprisewide applications as well as Intranet and Web applications. In addition, they project increased use in the future.

This data comes from a recent survey of 500 developers by Evans Marketing Services (EMS, Santa Cruz, Calif.). The study also finds that 44 percent of developers are now using Java some portion of the time, continuing a steady upward growth pattern established over the last two years.

Overall, 56 percent of respondents say they use a browser as a client UI in at least some of the new apps they create. When asked to project usage of this technique into the coming year, 64 percent say they expected to do this next year. While usage is still at the low end in percent of apps created this way, almost twenty percent use browsers as a client UI in over half of all the apps they create, and 25 percent expect to use this architecture in more than half of all new apps next year. Of those developers creating enterprisewide corporate apps, 57 percent said they use a browser as a client UI at least some of the time.

"The use of a browser as a client UI isn't confined only to apps written for the Internet, or even for VPNs," says Janel Garvin, VP of research at EMS. "We found strong acceptance of this technique in that group of developers writing enterprisewide corporate apps. The enterprise developers were second only to those writing Intranet or Web apps in use of browsers as client UIs, and the reasons typically cited were decreased coding and greatly reduced learning curve for end users. In line with that, 40 percent of this same corporate group told us that the majority of the apps they write feature thin clients."

In addition, the developers themselves forecast that Java use will increase to 57 percent by next year. Usage patterns outside North America currently stand at 43 percent currently using Java, with 61 percent projecting they will use the language next year. "Java is the perfect example of what we call an "iceberg language", says Garvin. "If you don't understand development and you measure usage incorrectly then you just see the little tip of the Java iceberg. You only see those developers who use the language most of the time, and you entirely miss the huge iceberg of Java users who use it less often. Among developers using Java, 75 percent are using it 30 percent of the time or less, and in the case of Java that has become literally millions of developers. Also important is the fact that developers continue to forecast an increase in Java use both overall and at various usage levels. These developers are adding Java to their repertoire and they intend to use it more and more. This is not the same pattern found in any other language today."

The fact that Java developers typically use it less frequently than some other languages is due to several factors, according to Garvin. "Java is still a new language and can't address the huge mass of old code that must be maintained. In addition it's particularly suited to newer type applications, architectures, and implementations which are only beginning to come into their own. These implementations are the way of the future and when they become common we'll find an enormous Java user base already established and the iceberg will surface."