Study: Web development reigns

Programmers are increasing the time they spend developing for the Internet and building Web services, according to a study released Oct. 22.

In a survey of 800 software developers, more than 90 per cent said they spend some time writing code for the Internet, up from 80 per cent in the same survey six months ago, according to Evans Data Corp., a market research firm that follows developer trends. One-third of respondents said they spend more than half of their time on Web development.

Of those who develop for the Web at least part of the time, 37 per cent said they are currently building and testing Web services within their company. In the context of the study, Web services refers to applications that carry out transactions between computers, rather than between a computer and an end user. The number of programmers building Web services is expected to nearly double in the next year, according to Evans Data.

“By investing so many resources in this space, developers are signalling their confidence that all the benefits of Web services are really going to make a difference,” said Jay Dixit, an analyst with Evans Data, which is based in Santa Cruz, Calif. “Developers are quite confident that (Web services) will change the way that software companies do business.”

The survey didn’t quantify what programming languages developers prefer to use when building Web services, though Dixit said the bulk of those polled said they use Java or languages for the Windows operating system, such as Visual Basic and C++. A “significant” percentage also said they are testing Microsoft’s .Net tools to build Web services, Dixit said.

Developing applications that can be accessed on a variety of devices, from cell phones to handheld computers, also surfaced as a leading trend, according to the survey. But the survey also revealed that cross-device development poses the greatest problems for programmers, as tools and guidance on how to build such applications are scarce.

“The proliferation of devices, and more and more people wanting to access the Web from devices other than the standard desktop PC, is driving this growth,” Dixit said.

The study was sponsored by multiple software vendors and asked questions of developers in North America. About 31 per cent of those polled work at companies with more than 2,000 employees, 44 per cent work at companies with less than 100 employees and the remaining 26 per cent of the population work at companies with a workforce somewhere in between.

Evans Data, in Santa Cruz, Calif., can be reached at