April 2014

Volume 29 Number 4

Editor's Note : Survey Says

Michael Desmond | April 2014

Michael DesmondEvery couple years we conduct a survey of MSDN Magazine subscribers, in an effort to understand the technologies, issues and topics that are of greatest interest to our readers. The results always make for fascinating reading, as we get a glimpse into the tools our readers use and the directions they intend to take with them.

Our 2013 reader survey came during what can only be called an interesting juncture in the evolution of the Microsoft developer ecosystem. Between our 2011 and 2013 surveys, Microsoft released a little thing called Windows 8 and the Windows Runtime. You might have heard of them. The company also deprecated Silverlight, released key improvements to ASP.NET, and launched not one, but two, new updates of the Visual Studio IDE. Platforms such as Windows Azure and Windows Phone continued to advance rapidly, creating increasingly mature and compelling targets for application development.

So it’s no surprise that our surveys in 2011 and 2013 have produced an informative snapshot of how these changes are impacting the planning and thinking of MSDN Magazine readers.

One thing that hasn’t changed: MSDN Magazine readers are accomplished. About 23 percent of survey respondents report having worked 25 years or more in the development field, while 55 percent report working between 10 and 25 years. That’s nearly 80 percent of MSDN Magazine readers with more than a decade of hands-on experience in the field. What’s more, 83 percent of readers report being actively involved in programming, versus just 17 percent who are not coding on a daily basis.

The use of tools and languages among MSDN Magazine subscribers continues to evolve. In 2011, 61 percent of respondents reported working in C# as their primary language. Two years later in 2013, that figure stood at 65.5 percent. Visual Basic .NET, on the other hand, declined in usage as a primary programming language, from 17 percent of respondents in 2011 to about 12 percent in 2013. C++ usage declined as well over the two year period, from 10 percent to a little more than 6 percent.

We also asked readers what languages and tools are in use in their organizations, and found some interesting trends. Employment of languages such as C#, C++ and Java within companies remained largely stable at organizations between the 2011 and 2013 surveys, but usage of both Visual Basic .NET and Visual Basic 6 dipped. In 2013, 41 percent of respondents reported their companies use Visual Basic .NET, down from 44 percent in 2011. Similarly, Visual Basic 6 use has declined from 21 percent of companies to 17 percent over the two-year span.

JavaScript earns a nod here, as we added the language to those tracked beginning with the 2013 survey. Reporting that their companies employ JavaScript were 67.4 percent of respondents, placing it second only to C# (86.5 percent) among languages deployed within reader organizations. I look forward to our next reader survey, and seeing how the arrival of the Windows Runtime, with its native support for both C++ and JavaScript, impacts uptake of these languages going forward.

No surprise, the vast majority of MSDN Magazine readers live and work in Visual Studio, and pickup of the latest versions of the IDE remains prompt. In 2011, 79 percent of readers reported that Visual Studio 2010 was deployed at their companies, followed by Visual Studio .NET 2008 at 64 percent. Two years later, the most widely deployed Visual Studio version was Visual Studio 2012 (68.4 percent), followed by Visual Studio 2010 (58.4 percent) and the just-released Visual Studio 2013 (41.6 percent).

When we asked readers which Microsoft technologies they currently use or plan to use within the next 12 months, we weren’t surprised to see technologies such as Visual Studio and the Microsoft .NET Framework produce response rates north of 90 percent. We also weren’t surprised to see planned adoption of Silverlight crater, from 43 percent in 2011 to just 16 percent of respondents in 2013. Emerging technologies and platforms, led by Windows Azure (28.4 percent), Windows Phone (21.3 percent) and the Windows Runtime (13.4 percent) have all gained ground.

What will the MSDN Magazine readership look like in 2015, 2017 or 2019? It’s an open question. Languages like JavaScript certainly figure to grow in importance. In 2013 just 1 percent of MSDN Magazine readers identified JavaScript as their primary language—the same percentage that singled out Visual Basic 6 as their main language. I can only guess where that number might sit two or four years from now.

Michael Desmond is the Editor-in-Chief of MSDN Magazine.