Survey results: Open source developer preferences

We recently conducted a survey of open source developers to learn about their current preferences around hosting sites and source control systems.  The survey was primarily advertised via Twitter, and we tried to avoid pushing the survey among audiences that would be specifically oriented towards a particular site (for example we did not advertise the survey from the CodePlex twitter account).

In total there were just under 500 responses, so a reasonable sample size although not necessarily enough to guarantee fully representative results.  One of the survey questions was what is your preferred operating system for development, and looking at the results they are particularly interesting when split by operating system preference because of how significant the difference is:


Table 1 - Preferences by what is preferred operating system for development



As you can see, the preferences among developers which prefer Windows is very different from Linux and Mac oriented developers.  Again, the question was on what operating system they prefer to use for development, and didn’t ask what type of applications they create, so presumably many create things like websites which are cross-platform from a user perspective regardless of the operating system they prefer developing with.

For hosting site preference, CodePlex and GitHub are roughly tied for first place among Windows developers and combined are preferred by over 75%.  However with Linux and Mac developers, GitHub has a runaway lead over the other sites.  Perhaps not particularly surprising, CodePlex has negligible mindshare among Linux and Mac developers.  It is somewhat surprising how low SourceForge and Google Code are given historically they used to rank much higher.

Looking at version control preferences is also interesting.  Among Windows developers TFS, Mercurial, Subversion, and Git all have a sizable following.  While for Linux and Mac developers it is almost all Git and Mercurial, with Git having a substantial lead.  Git is generally considered to run better on Linux and have more of a Unix feel, so not really surprising to see it more popular there compared to Windows developers.  It is surprising how low Subversion has dropped since it was the dominant preference not long ago for open source developers.  Around a quarter of Windows developers still prefer Subversion, but Linux and Mac developers have largely abandoned it.  The trend towards distributed version control systems (e.g. Mercurial and Git) is strong, with over 50% of Windows developers now prefer DVCS, and over 80% of Linux and Mac developers.