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Developer Productivity Report 2016: Java Tools and Technologies sneak peek

Summer is coming. You know what that means for you, dear RebelLabs reader. We’re about to publish the results of our annual survey. It’s the one where we ask Java developers to tell us which technologies are they using, what tools they spend most of their time tinkering with, and which frameworks make their lives easier. This information gives us incredible insight into the community and allows us to pick more relevant topics for upcoming blog posts.

Back in February this year, we launched the survey and asked everyone we knew of in the Java community to contribute to the data by answering the questions. We also asked them to share it with their colleagues, peers, friends and anyone else in the community. We also promised to support Devoxx for Kids with a $1000 contribution if we received 2000 responses.

Devoxx For Kids logo

Good news everyone, we hit that target and got to support the initiative we love and deem crucial for the future of Java community. Congrats, Devoxx for Kids, you’re doing a fantastic job!

Now back to the survey and the responses. Currently, we’re crunching the data we got and are trying to pick the most interesting and insightful pieces to talk about in the report. So while you still have to wait a bit for the final results, here’s a small preview of the responses we got and what are we going to talk about in the report.

Overall, we received 2040 responses that did not contain bogus data (like thousands of years of experience in the field). Now that is a lot of data. And one can ask different things about it. But, perhaps the most important question for a reader is — who’s the average respondent? Indeed, knowing who exactly does the data represent can help you draw the right conclusions — and know how close to heart you should take the analysis.

Most of the people that we convinced to complete the survey are, not very surprisingly, software engineers. Together with architects and team leads, they form more that 80% of the data points.

Job description graph - RebelLabs report 2016

This means that if you are a developer yourself, we are pretty sure the results of this survey are interesting and relevant to you. Especially if you work — at least on occasion — with web applications in mid-sized companies or large enterprises. Here’s what the numbers look like 67% of the respondents indicated that they work on full stack web applications, and another 18% are saved from the JavaScript insanity and work on the backend only.

Now, I don’t want to spoil the report findings too much, but I would like to share an outtake or two with you. One of the topics that were hot lately and apparently not going anywhere is microservices. Architecture always fascinates developers, and we couldn’t miss our chance to ask about it.

So we asked if the teams were moving to the microservices architecture and whether using microservices architecture made the job easier.

I’ll go over the results in a moment, but here is a picture that’s worth a thousand words.

Microservices architecture graph - RebelLabs report 2016

First of all, two-thirds of the respondents did not make the move to microservices architecture. Only 8% of all that haven’t moved are planning to do so. I think it means that most of the people who wanted to move have done so already. And the rest will need convincing and an actual reason to migrate.

The data for those who already migrated is more interesting. Did they notice that their job became easier than before? After all, that’s one of the reasons to migrate: smaller independent services, easier development process, simpler deployments, and so on. We all know the story.

Well, the same graph has the answer: roughly 40% of those who migrated said that their job is now easier (or much easier). And another 40% haven’t seen much difference in the complexity of their job. Which leaves about 1 in 5 developers saying that after their projects had started employing microservices, their job got harder. That’s not as surprising as one could think. The challenges of distributed computing are real, and sometimes projects make architectural choices not to make the job easier, but because otherwise the system simply won’t work.

The last question that I want to reveal in this sneak peek is this: what tool, technology or library are you super excited or proud about having used or planning to use in 2016?

Note that this was a free form question, one where you could write down anything you wanted. This freedom — while useful for discovering interesting, less known projects and tools — makes the analysis just a bit clumsy. So we allowed ourselves to approach it freely as well. Please take everything you learn in this segment with a grain of salt.

Without further ado, we present you with the top 10 most frequent technologies mentioned in the response to this question:

Spring Boot
Java 8 (still going strong!)

Also, this year we included a fuzzy question about whether you think you’re better than the average person in the role you currently hold. That was another one of my favorites to analyze: do individuals who are humble, tend to update software less and instead do their job with time-proven tools, like Ant, SVN, WebSphere, and vim? Or does calling yourself agile help with self-esteem? Unfortunately, the margins here are too narrow to elaborate.

Stay tuned for the final version of the report where we analyze the full data from the survey responses. It will be beautiful, it will be insightful, and hopefully you’ll enjoy reading it!

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  • Hey Oleg,
    This is shaping up to be a very cool data-set.
    Are there any early numbers on IDE usage? I’m curious to see how these compare to some numbers I recently published?

  • Oleg Šelajev

    Thank you! We don’t have the exact IDE numbers yet, but this year Intellij IDEA has leaped forward majorly. I think compared to what responses we got 2 years ago. Can you please share the link to your findings? It would great to compare indeed.

  • Yeah, that’s what I saw as well – here’s the writeup on IDEs (I’ve published them separately).
    I was actually curious about the NetBeans numbers, mostly because of a conversation I had over there.
    No worries, waiting for the full numbers to come out.