Trends from the Eclipse Community Survey

The results of the Eclipse Community Survey 2010 are now available.   Thank you to everyone, all 1696 people, that took the time to give us your feedback.   A challenge for lots of open source communities is understanding the dynamics in the community, so these results provide  a useful data point.

We have published a report, called the Open Source Developer Report, that provides a summary of the survey results.  The detailed results and numbers are also available [xls]  [ods].  For those interesting in trends, we have done a similar surveys in 2007 and 2009.

Each year I learn a lot analyzing the survey results.  Last year I discovered the popular products used in the Eclipse community and in 2010 a lot of those same products are still very popular.  However, some things did jump out as interesting trends for 2010.

Trend #1. Linux on the developers desktop continues to grow.  We asked developers what was their primary operating system for software development.  In 2007, 20% said Linux was their development operating system. Now, in 2010 almost a third (33%) say Linux.  The biggest loser seems to be Windows 73.8% in 2007 down to 58.3% in 2010.  Interestingly, Mac OS X has only gone from 3.5% to 7.9%.

Trend #2. JQuery has a lot of momentum and usage in the RIA space. JQuery ranked the highest (26.9%) RIA framework of those the stated RIA/Web Apps was their primary style of software.    Th next closest was Adobe Flex at 9.1%.  In the 2009 survey, JQuery had around 5% adoption.

Trend #3. Open JDK has gain a lot of adoption. I don’t follow the JVM market that closely but I was pleasantly surprised to see 21.7% of the respondents state they target Open JDK.  Sun Hotspot predictably scored the highest at 68.8%.

Trend #4. DVCS usage is growing; CVS is shrinking. DVCS is a hot trend for software development and Git support is a hot topic for Eclipse project committers.  Therefore, I was not surprised to see Git usage up from 2.4% (2009) to 6.8% (2010).   Mercurial usage also increased from 1.1% to 3%.   This growth seems to be coming from the decreased use of CVS, 20% (2009) to 12.6% (2010).  Subversion continues to be the most popular at 58.3%.

Trend #5. Eclipse users upgrade quickly to new releases. 75.5% of the respondents said they were using Eclipse 3.5  (Galileo) and an additional 7.1% use the Helios milestones.   I’ve always known the Eclipse community moves quickly to a new release  but 82+% in less than 1 year is pretty impressive.   If you are building products that target Eclipse users, providing support for older versions of Eclipse might not be that important.  Granted, products that are built on top of Eclipse probably don’t move as fast.

Trend #6. Lots of fragmentation in the methodology space. I don’t follow the software methodology space that closely but I was surprised by the fact that 1) 25% of the respondents don’t use a methodology and 2) the most popular, Scrum, has only 15% adoption.  The rest of the respondents identified over 18 different methodologies that they use for a development methodology.

Trend #7. Open source participation seems to be stalled. In the survey, we asked a question about the corporate policies towards open source participation. In 2009 48% claimed they could contribute back to OSS but in 2010 only 35.4% claim they could contribute back.    Conversely, 41% in 2010 claimed they use open source software but do not contribute back but in 2009 it was 27.1%.  Obviously not a trend any open source community would like to see.   I am not sure the reason companies would become less restrictive in their open source policies.   Any insight or feedback from the community would be appreciated.

Trend #8. The community is satisfied. Once again it appears the Eclipse community is pretty satisfied, 39.9% are very satisfied and 48.5% are satisfied.   Pretty consistent with last year, so congratulations to everyone the makes Eclipse a great place.

There is a lot more information available in the report and in the detailed data [xls]  [ods].  Let me know what you learned and your impressions.  As with any survey, there are obvious biases and this is just one data point but I do think it represents a decent view of what developers are doing.

34 thoughts on “Trends from the Eclipse Community Survey

  1. Great stuff Ian. I’m really excited about the “DVCS usage is growing” trend… I only expect it to increase more next year as people become more knowledge and the tools mature.

  2. When I look at the details of the other category on question on client-side framework, it looks like Qt ( %4.8) is used more than GTK+(%4.2). I think this wpould have been valuable to highlight in the report. It may affect the priorities of the CDT community.

  3. Thanks, Ian. To answer #7, it’s my experience that companies still don’t see open source contribution as revenue generating. As belts are tightened, any non-revenue generating activity is curtailed.

    @Gorkem, it’s a good thing Nokia is a major contributor to CDT. I assume they have a huge vested interest in addressing the Qt user’s needs.

    1. That’s why .. survival mode stops any ‘charity’; but adoption of OSS increases as companies need to cut costs.

      What will happen is a flood of new users during the recession and then a flood of contributions as the economy gets back toward the peak. OSS will continue to flourish.

  4. @Chris I agree DVCS will be trending up in the future.

    @Gorkem good point about Qt.

    @Doug the economy might be the reason for the change in #7. People are feeling less generous?

  5. Thanks for these interesting findings, Ian.

    However, we should not forget that this feedback is given by the most active members of the Eclipse community. The Eclipse users base is much more larger.

    Especially, when looking at Trend #5 – adopting new releases. It is naturally to expect that the most active Eclipse users use the packages distributed on and upgrade quickly to newer releases. But this is not exactly true for users of an adopters product. There are vendors that are just releasing their fresh new products based on Ganymede! And there are customers of these vendors that don’t rush upgrading, because of the license cost of upgrading. I am developing a plug-in, which my initial plan for was to support Europa and later. But a customer found it useful for a product based on Callisto and he asked if I can downport it 🙂

    So, plug-in developers still need to pay attention at the older Eclipse releases.

  6. I actually second Kaloyan’s opinions. I think some of the trends extracted here are a bit far fetched especially when it comes to corporate developers.
    Having access to real customers in my new job, I can see that the reality of corporate adoptions of new releases of eclipse is much different than what you see here. Rather than being set by the eclipse releases, the adoption is set by the pace at which tool vendors adopt eclipse, which is far from being yearly.

    I think it would be of general benefit to the community of add-on providers, to gather from various eclipse members the number of deployed instance of eclipse they have and which version.

  7. @Kaloyan I agree adopters probably don’t upgrade as quickly. This is the point I tried to make in the last sentence of #5.

    @Pascal A lot of corporate developers responded to the survey. As with any survey, you need to always put things in perspective. I agree a survey of adopters/add-in providers would be interesting.

  8. Great ttuff Ian, but it only makes me more curious.

    I would like to see some clustering analysis on the replies that can only be done with the raw data. Who are the people that don’t use SCM, CMS andbuild & release mgt? Are they students, or are they not programmers or are they in small companies? And do these non-users overlap: (SCM & CMS & BRM) || !(SCM & CMS & BRM). What are the correlating clusters?

  9. Hi Ian,

    Regarding #7 – could it simply be that as the open source aware userbase broadens, the first-adopting hardcore contributor types are slowly outnumbered by people who simply use Eclipse (and increasingly desktop linux) for convenience and features?


  10. thank you for the information, hopefully useful for all of us .. continue to update the information and send it via my email …
    success for you

  11. My take: this survey sample skews way high for Linux and somewhat low for Mac. Just based on what I observe, I see more Mac than Linux. But windows clearly dominates for java due to corporate policies.

    We need a different sample set to draw any conclusions IMO.

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