Safety in numbers – how have layoffs affected developers?

The process of creative destruction in the tech sector allows for great leaps of innovation as startups out-manoeuvre incumbents and are, in turn, acquired in billion-dollar deals. However, this dynamism and flexibility can also come at a cost. When organisations are flush with cash and the trade winds are blowing in the right direction, developers’ high value is evident in their commensurately high salaries and attractive benefits packages as organisations build crack teams to solve hard problems. 

But when times are hard, these crack teams can begin to look like luxuries, and suddenly, a prestigiously large team may appear bloated. In hard times, organisations need to maintain profitability and ‘right-size’ their organisation. After the hiring glut during the COVID-19 pandemic, it appears that software vendors have begun to tighten their belts in the face of global financial uncertainty. Meta’s ‘year of efficiency’ has reportedly resulted in a loss of 20k jobs, a fraction of the reported 225k lost in 2023 (at the time of writing).

In this blog post, we examine how developers were affected by layoffs in the tech industry in the last 18 months, presenting findings from SlashData’s Q3 2023 Developer Nation survey.

A very substantial proportion (45%) of developers were directly or indirectly affected by these layoffs. In particular, nearly a quarter of those – and 11% of all professional developers – were themselves laid off. We’ll look more closely at just who was affected further down the post.

It seems that employers were more willing to reduce headcount than to reduce benefits – 30% of developers were either laid off or know someone who was, whilst 22% either lost salary/benefits or didn’t get a raise. This shows the depth of the cuts needed for organisations to remain profitable – redundancies save on bonuses, benefits, and overheads, in addition to salaries.

Interestingly, as a result of this situation, we find that 12% of developers are considering changing career paths. According to our survey data, Industrial IoT (21%) and VR (18%) are the hardest-hit sectors. Given that many VR developers get into the profession due to their passion and evangelism for the technology, this must be particularly distressing for them. 

Furthermore, even despite the recent AI/ML gold rush associated with recent developments in large language models (LLMs), 16% of developers involved in ML/AI projects are considering switching. Those who report translating business problems into ML/AI problems are the most likely to consider switching (24%). This might be because the answer to this question is now becoming increasingly ‘use the ChatGPT API’. To find out more about what developers think of generative AI, check out the 25th edition of our State of the Developer Nation report and our recent webinar.

Nearly half of developers have been affected by layoffs, and three in ten have been laid off or know someone who was
* % of professional developers working in organisations of 2 or more employees
Sample Size: Q3 2023 (n=4,878)

Looking at the effect of company size, we can see that developers at the largest organisations – those with a thousand or more employees – were the least affected by layoffs. More specifically, 62% of them weren’t affected in any way. This demonstrates that, despite the widely-publicised layoffs from companies like Microsoft, Meta, and Google, the financial difficulties have been felt more keenly at smaller organisations. Understandably, though, 5-digit layoffs at a single company make for attention-grabbing headlines and collecting data on the wider number of smaller organisations is difficult. So here, we present this often under-reported view of how layoffs have affected developers at smaller organisations.

Much of the reporting of these layoffs has focused on large organisations’ attempts to gain efficiencies by flattening their hierarchies. We can see this reflected in our data – the negative impact of the layoffs rises with developers’ level of influence on tool purchasing decisions. 

Developers in senior roles have been hit the hardest by the negative impacts of the layoffs, proportionately, at least. Under half of the decision-makers* remain unaffected as of Q3 2023 – compared to 64% of those not involved in tool selection decisions. Furthermore, more than a third (37%) of decision-makers were either laid off themselves or knew someone else who was. Just 24% of non-decision-makers say the same. 

Decision-makers – with their commensurately higher salaries – were also nearly twice as likely as those not involved in tool selection decisions to feel the financial squeeze from the situation, with 27% experiencing reduced salaries, bonuses, and/or benefits, vs. 14% of those not involved in tool purchasing decisions.

In fact, the impact is such that decision-makers are nearly three times as likely to consider switching career paths as those who are not involved in making decisions in the tool selection process. Decision-makers at small companies (2-50 employees) are the least likely to want to switch, though – 11% say they are considering changing career paths, compared to 20% of those at larger organisations. Smaller companies likely have less red tape and flatter hierarchies anyway.

Decision-makers bore the brunt of the negative impacts – they are twice as likely to have been laid off as those not involved in tool selection decisions
* % of professional developers working in organisations of 2 or more employees that have each level of influence on tool purchasing decisions
Sample Size: Q3 2023 (n=3,998)

*Decision-makers are developers who say that they make the final selection decision for team/company tools, approve expenses on tools & components, or approve the overall team budget for developer tools. Influencers are those who say they are involved in tool selection decisions by making recommendations or influencing decision-makers or are responsible for specifications.

Developers’ influence and the size of the organisation they work at are not the only factors at play in whether or not they have been affected by layoffs. We also must consider developers’ skill levels. Here, we present two views that capture different aspects of developers’ level of expertise:

  1. Years of experience in software development
  2. Where developers learnt to code

The most experienced developers suffered the fewest ill-effects from the layoffs. No matter how you measure it, they are the least likely to have been laid off, know someone who was laid off, or to have experienced reduced salaries, bonuses and/or benefits. Subsequently, just 6% say that they are considering changing career paths. Clearly, these developers have a greater sunk cost to consider than the least experienced – those with two or fewer years under their belts – but this data demonstrates just how essential highly experienced developers are to the smooth running of an organisation.

In fact, being highly experienced appears to mitigate some of the negative effects experienced by decision-makers. For example, 68% of decision-makers with 11+ years of experience saw no negative effects from the layoffs, compared to 39% of those with 3-10 years under their belts. Although decision-makers are the most likely to have experienced negative impacts from layoffs, organisations still recognise the value of having experienced developers in key positions.

Looking at expertise from another angle – developers’ level of education, we can see that bootcamp-educated developers are at a significant disadvantage, even over those who don’t know how to code. Just 38% of bootcamp-educated developers suffered no ill effects from recent layoffs, and 43% were either laid off or know someone who was. This data indicates that:

  1. Some bootcamps don’t equip developers with sufficient skills to weather storms – these developers are often the first to go, and;
  2. Bootcamp-educated developers have a large network of similarly skilled friends and colleagues who also suffered from these layoffs.

As for those who don’t know how to code – whose outcomes appear better than even developers educated at a postgraduate level – we see that some roles are over-represented:

  • 13% are product managers / marketers / salespeople,
  • 12% are tech/engineering team leads,
  • 12% are system administrators (using visual development tools to manage infrastructure),
  • 11% are business analysts.

All of these roles, though vital to the software development process, don’t necessarily involve writing code, and it appears that these roles are robust to change. Tech/engineering team leads were one of the least affected roles, with 60% of them indicating that they weren’t affected by the recent layoffs. So, whilst middle managers and decision-makers were the most likely to face the axe, many organisations continued to recognise the value of individual contributors and those who manage them directly, regardless of their coding skills. Indeed, AI-assisted programming and visual development tools have reduced the reliance on traditional coding skills, and this area continues to experience rapid change and development.

Developers who learnt to code at a developer boot camps were the most at risk from layoffs
* % of professional developers at organisations of 2 or more employees
Sample Size: Q3 2023 (n=4,802)

It’s never easy to work in uncertain times, especially with the threat of redundancies. The tech sector is in a constant state of flux. Reassuringly, though, the recent explosion of generative AI has made developers feel better equipped to do their jobs, rather than threatened. We’re likely to see further iterations of the boom-bust cycle, and for those who want to feel more secure, it’s more vital than ever to continue building skills. SlashData’s Developer Nation community aims to empower developers to grow and learn in the ever-changing tech landscape. We’ll bring you insights, content, and access to field experts to help you get started or level up your game. Keep an eye on our socials to learn more about the next virtual meetup.


The State of Blockchain Development

The distributed transaction ledgers and smart contracts that comprise blockchain technologies have applications in a wide range of industries, particularly in finance, logistics, and government. Today, we present an overview of who is involved in blockchain development and which blockchain platforms they use. Earlier on, we discussed the state of blockchain development in detail in our webinar and you can find a link to watch it below.

Engagement with blockchain technologies

Of the three blockchain technologies we track in our survey, non-fungible tokens (NFTs) garner the least attention from developers – 58% of them show no interest, likely due to its perception as a novelty technology. On the other hand, cryptocurrencies are most salient to developers – 27% are either learning about or currently working on such projects, and non-cryptocurrency blockchain technologies are very close behind, with 25% of developers similarly involved. We discussed this topic in detail in our webinar on the state of Blockchain Development. 

We will focus solely on blockchain applications other than cryptocurrencies, as these technologies have the widest range of use cases and thus the most potential to shape our world. We’ll begin by looking at developers’ engagement with blockchain technologies from a regional standpoint and then through the lens of experience in software development. Finally, we’ll give an overview of which blockchain platforms are being used.

blockchain platforms being used

A regional view of Engagement with blockchain applications

Engagement with blockchain applications other than cryptocurrencies, referred to as blockchain applications from here on, varies greatly depending on where developers are located. North America and East Asia excluding Greater China are hotbeds of blockchain development – 15% and 12% of developers in these regions, respectively, are currently working on blockchain applications, with another 17% learning about the technology in both regions. 

“North America and East Asia are hotbeds of blockchain development”

Further down the list, we see that while the Middle East & Africa has a smaller proportion of developers actively working on blockchain projects; it has the highest incidence of those learning about them (20%). This suggests that the Middle East & Africa could well become important for blockchain development in the future. Indeed, given the region’s history of rapid adoption of new foundational technologies – exemplified by Africa’s mobile banking revolution – blockchain applications in finance and banking are particularly exciting here – though the data suggests that there may still be some way to go. 

“Finance and banking professionals in the Middle East and Africa are more interested in blockchain technologies than finance and banking professionals in other regions”

About a quarter of professional developers in the Middle East & Africa who are interested in blockchain technologies are also working in the finance and banking sector. It seems these developers have seen the potential for this technology to shape and disrupt the sector and are getting a head start. Looking at this from the other side, we see that the proportion of finance and banking professionals who are currently working on or learning about blockchain applications is broadly in line with the average for the region (31% vs 33%). However, the proportion who are interested in blockchain applications is 29% higher (37% vs 29%). This is the highest incidence of interest in blockchain applications amongst finance and banking professionals across any region and indicates that blockchain applications could play a pivotal role in this industry in the future.

blockchain projects per region

How does experience affect engagement with blockchain applications?

Developers with 6-10 years of experience are the most likely to work on blockchain projects. It’s likely that these developers have reached the point in their career where their technical skills are sufficiently advanced to enable them to work on such demanding projects. On the other hand, we see that the least and most experienced developers are the most likely to be disinterested in such projects. Those with less than a year under their belts have yet to build their knowledge, while the most experienced developers may be looking to maintain some stability in their career and are reluctant to change tack.

“Many of the least experienced developers are actively learning about blockchain technologies. They constitute a strong pipeline of future contributors”

Developers with 11-15 years under their belts show the most passive interest in blockchain applications – whilst they aren’t learning about or working on such projects, 32% are interested in some way. These developers are at the zenith of their careers and whilst they are some of the least likely to be learning about the technology, they are also some of the most likely to be currently working on it. These developers are likely keeping a close eye on developments in the space – should they spot an opportunity, they will be able to pivot their considerable experience to become effective contributors to the space.

How does experience affect engagement with blockchain applications

Interestingly, although we see that the least experienced developers are less likely than their counterparts with 1-15 years of experience to be currently working on blockchain applications, they are only slightly less likely to be learning about these projects. This demonstrates that although they lack the skills to be active contributors, the myriad applications and potential of blockchain applications are a powerful draw. We can expect that, as learning materials improve and the barriers to entry reduce – as is the case with many technologies – over the next few years, developers will be able to get involved in blockchain projects much earlier in their careers.

Which blockchain platforms are most popular?

Looking at the specific blockchain platforms that developers report using, we see that Ethereum is clearly dominant amongst learners and those actively developing alike. It’s also unique amongst the blockchain technologies that we ask about, in that it is the only one which is more popular amongst those learning about the technology than those who are currently working on it. This indicates that Ethereum’s ecosystem is in good shape – not only is it large, but it also has a healthy pipeline of new contributors. 

Although new contributors are certainly good news – the utility of a blockchain rises with the number of applications that use it – a large influx can also create problems. For example, too many transactions on a network can slow things down severely and greatly increase the price of a transaction. For example, when CryptoKitties surged in popularity, the cost of a transaction on the Ethereum network increased ninefold, from ~$50 to over $450. Such is the price of success. This said, Ethereum’s recent transition to a proof-of-stake model is expected to reduce energy consumption by 99.95% and makes the platform more scalable, secure, and sustainable, potentially mitigating this pitfall.

“The Binance blockchain platform benefits from its association with the Binance crypto exchange and its interoperability with the Ethereum blockchain”

Further down the list, Binance Smart Chain is the second most widely used blockchain platform and is used significantly more by active developers than learners. Here, the Binance Smart Chain not only benefits from its association with the Binance cryptocurrency trading platform, but also its interoperability with the Ethereum blockchain. We also see a similar story with the IBM Blockchain platform – this platform is based on open-source blockchain technology managed by the Linux foundation and clearly benefits from the backing of these two large organisations and their developer and business communities.

most popular blockchain platforms

Despite the hype, blockchain technologies are still somewhat in their infancy. Blockchain, much like cloud computing fifteen or so years ago, has the potential to underpin and enable many other technologies and experiences, but as we saw earlier, only 9% of developers are currently working on such projects. Rather than affecting an instant technological transformation, blockchain technologies have the opportunity to become a foundational technology on which our digital experience sits, much like TCP-IP – the building blocks of the internet – and developers will be key players in shaping this particular view of the future.

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Analysis Business

The Power of Innovation: Developers at the Forefront of Emerging Technologies

Over the last couple of years the tech industry has experienced several waves of disruptive innovation with the introduction of self-driving cars or Metaverse. While these high-profile technologies steal the headlines, the hidden gems like AI-assisted programming hold the power to reshape the world. 

In the 22nd edition of our Developer Nation Survey, we have shared some valuable insights on how the landscape of emerging technologies is being shaped by one of the key players – developers. Read on and uncover some interesting truths about what the future of emerging technologies might look like!

  1. The adoption of AI-assisted software development is the third-highest of any other emerging technology

It’s immediately apparent that AI-assisted software development captures developers’ interest – the possible impacts on working practices, careers, and remuneration are especially salient to 67% of developers. This interest is not purely hypothetical or academic – 14% of engaged developers are actively working on AI-assisted software development, and adoption of this technology is the third-highest of any emerging technology. We can’t say for sure if developers are building or simply using these technologies, though, given their complexity and novel status, it’s likely that many of these adopters are using AI-assisted development as part of their workflow rather than actively developing the technology itself. 

We are already seeing the effects of low- and no-code tools on the democratisation of software development, and with 46% of developers reporting that they use such tools, they pervade beyond the citizen developer well into the professional realm. AI-assisted development is a logical addition for many developers looking to increase their development velocity, and indeed, we see that developers who do 75% or more of their development work using low- or no-code tools (20%) are four times as likely as those who don’t use them at all (4%) to be currently working on AI-assisted software development.

  1. Computer vision, robotics, and blockchain technologies command high levels of engagement though NFTs seems to be losing popularity

Further down the list, stalwarts such as computer vision, robotics, and blockchain (cryptocurrencies and other applications) command high levels of engagement amongst developers, though NFTs – another crypto-adjacent technology – has much lower engagement, with just 48% of developers working on, interested in, or learning about it. This said, the money-making potential of NFTs has not gone unnoticed by developers – 11% of those engaged report that they are currently working on the technology, making this a potentially profitable niche for those who do get involved. In fact, all three crypto-adjacent technologies have high adoption and learning rates – for each, at least 30% of engaged developers are actively learning about the technologies.

Blockchain technologies, including cryptocurrencies, have experienced the largest increase in engagement in the last 12 months, with interest in crypto currencies increasing by 14% and interest in non-crypto blockchain applications increasing by 15%, but adoption of this technology has stagnated, increasing by a single percentage point in the last 12 months

  1. The growth in adoption rates has stagnated but developers are expanding their interest horizons 

Interestingly, we see that, compared to the previous year, growth in adoption rates has stagnated across the board. Part of this is due to the changing landscape of emerging technologies that we track, but careful examination of the change in engagement rates shows that many more developers are becoming engaged with a wider range of emerging technologies. In fact, the absolute adoption rates (the proportion of all developers working on a technology) have remained largely unchanged in the past year – developers have widened their interests but this has not yet trickled down to their working practices. 

  1. Metaverse is experiencing one of the highest learning rates outside the blockchain/crypto space

The Metaverse is another technology that has recently garnered a lot of interest, bounding into the public eye in October – likely coinciding with Facebook’s name change to Meta. We see that a healthy 53% of developers are engaged with this technology, but adoption is low, at 9% of engaged developers. This is likely because the Metaverse is still being defined.

Becoming a ‘Metaverse developer’ is a perplexing journey as it combines several contributing hardware and software technologies – extended reality (XR), networking, graphics, optics, machine learning, and blockchain, to name a few – many of which have yet to reach maturity, lots of developers will be waiting to see what the future holds. Indeed, 28% of engaged developers say that they are currently learning about the Metaverse, one of the highest learning rates outside the crypto/blockchain space. Many of these developers are likely positioning themselves to make the most of a possibly lucrative new technology. 


Why do developers switch jobs?

During the 21st edition of our Developer Nation survey we asked professional developers what – if anything – would make them switch jobs. It turns out many developers know their worth. Just one in ten developers say that nothing would make them leave their current employer. You can also share your input and participate in our more recent survey to answer this and other interesting questions.

It looks like the majority of developers are financially motivated, either in the form of higher compensation and/or an improved benefits package. Half of developers would switch employers for higher compensation and a third would switch jobs for an improved benefits package. Nearly two-thirds selected either option. 

However, this means that just over a third of developers have motivations that extend beyond immediate financial reward. When we remove the two-thirds of developers who said that increased compensation or better benefits would incentivise them to move, career advancement and broadening skills take the top two spots. This shows that developers are hungry to learn and to progress – these are also important factors for developers who could be tempted by financial rewards. 

Money talks for half of developers

Around one in five developers state that a better company culture would be a tempting reason to switch employers. However, while you could negotiate better incentives and more perks and benefits, company culture is harder to influence. There are well documented issues with culture in software development. There have been several high profile cases of discriminatory working environments in the last few years, and many software developers are no strangers to long hours, especially as a project nears completion. 

Remote working 

Software development has historically been a pioneering industry for remote working. The pandemic has likely made this especially salient. Not surprisingly, around a quarter could be tempted to move by a remote position. Just over one in eight would move in order to relocate. 

Eastern European developers are the most concerned with compensation

Are you perhaps based in Eastern Europe? Developers there are the most concerned with increasing their salary. Nearly seven in ten say that this would make them switch employers. The close geographical proximity to richer Western European countries likely makes depressed salaries in this region feel particularly unfair. For these underpaid developers in Eastern Europe, an upgraded benefits package won’t cut the mustard; instead other factors are more important:

  • broadening skills (50%), 
  • taking a more challenging role (32%), or
  • relocation (22%). 

It seems that Eastern European developers are taking a longer-term look at their finances and possibly considering uprooting their lives for an increased chance of success.

Developers in North America seem the happiest at their current jobs

14% of devs in N.America said that nothing would make them switch. As with most regions, higher compensation is the most tempting option; half of developers here selected this. These developers are much less likely than average to select career advancement, broadening skills, or taking on a more challenging role as reasons for moving. By and large, North American developers appear to be satisfied with their professional lives. For those who would be tempted to move, higher compensation is mentioned as a reason by three in five. 

Culture also matters in China

For Chinese developers, compensation is also important. Three in five developers here selected this option, the second-highest of any region. In comparison with their Eastern European counterparts, however, Chinese developers were almost twice as likely to say that a better benefits package would tempt them to move. This said, although financial motivations are important for developers in Greater China, they are some of the most likely to select ‘softer’ benefits such as better company culture, working environments, or shorter commutes. Reports of the Chinese government taking steps to reduce the ‘996’ working culture prevalent in many tech organisations in the country may well make these factors less of an issue in the future.

Developers in Greater China are less likely to say that remote or flexible working would tempt them to switch employers. Such flexibility is more highly valued by developers in Eastern Europe or North America. It’s likely that the pandemic’s effect on working culture has affected different regions in different ways. For instance, developers in North America may well be used to working from home after more than a year of doing so, and with Eastern Europe already an established outsourcing destination, remote work is more likely to be salient for developers here. On the other hand, developers in regions that may have limited opportunities to offer are more likely to see remote working as a door opener to the global labour market. More than one in three developers in the Middle East and Africa and 30% of developers in South America, for example, would switch jobs for a remote role.

Eastern European developers feel underpaid

Experienced developers are the most content in their jobs 

Around one in six of those with 16 or more years of experience say that nothing would make them move. This group is also the most financially-motivated, with over half saying that higher compensation may tempt them to move. As developers gain experience, they know better which roles they want to take. With managerial positions often forming an artificial ceiling, some experienced developers will want to stay closer to the code. 

Here is something important to consider: Career advancement and taking on a more challenging role both peak for developers with three to five years under their belts. A well-timed change at this point in a developer’s career can have a large impact on their future earnings and professional success. At three to five years of experience, many developers are beginning to feel established and comfortable in their skills, so a challenging opportunity can often provide a catalyst for future success.    

There are many reasons why a developer may choose to switch jobs, and whilst it’s impossible to ignore the impact of compensation, other factors play an important role, especially as the role of work in our lives continues to evolve. We are capturing these and other interesting facts that make tech giants shift their strategies in our Developer Nation Surveys. Raise your voice and shape the future.

Compensation becomes more important as developers gain experience
Analysis Community

Coding the Future: How Developers Embrace and Adopt Emerging Technologies

As the popularity of a technology ebbs and flows, so does its impact, and when it comes to software development practices, few recent technologies have exerted as profound an influence as DevOps. This technology has become truly mainstream, seeing widespread adoption across software sectors, industries, and roles. We are delighted to say that, for these reasons, DevOps has matured out of our emerging technology tracker and instead has been replaced with several new and exciting technologies that have the potential to reshape the world. Here, we’ll use developers’ engagement with and adoption of these technologies to help us understand just how this might come to pass.

We have tracked developers’ engagement with and adoption of different technologies over six surveys, spanning three years, endingQ1 2021. To measure engagement and adoption, we asked developers if they are working on, learning about, interested in, or not interested in different emerging technologies, whilst adding to the list as new innovations appear. We classified each technology according to whether its engagement rate is above or below the median-high/low engagement-and whether its adoption rate is above or below the median-high/low adoption. 

Robotics, mini apps and computer vision are taking the lead as emerging technologies developers are most engaged with

After graduating DevOps from our emerging technology tracker, robotics, mini apps – apps embedded within another app – and computer vision head the table for those emerging technologies with which developers are most engaged. Around half of developers say they are working on, learning about, or interested in each of these technologies, and, whilst mini apps are most widely adopted by professional developers, hobbyists and students are most interested in robotics. However, of the developers engaged with mini apps, nearly a quarter are currently working on the technology. For computer vision, this drops to 15%, and for robotics, just 10%. Despite engaging developers in similar ways, it’s clear that the practical applications of mini apps are widely recognised by developers-in fact adoption increased by four percentage points in the last twelve months, one of the largest increases we saw.

Nearly 30% of actively engaged developers are learning about cryptocurrencies

Almost three in ten engaged developers are learning about cryptocurrencies, the most of any technology – though other blockchain applications are close behind on 26%. The academic interest in these technologies has yet to translate directly into adoption-only 14% and 12% of engaged developers are actively working on projects using these technologies. More than 40% of them are professionally involved in web apps / Software as aService (SaaS), and a third are involved in mobile development as professionals. This said, adoption did increase for both cryptocurrencies (+5 percentage points), and other blockchain applications (+4 percentage points) in the last twelve months-developers are continuing to find practical applications for these technologies. With giants such as Maersk incorporating blockchain technology into their logistics management systems in the last few years, more widespread adoption is inevitable.

Quantum computing and self-driving cars still lag in adoption

Quantum computing and self-driving cars continue to languish near the bottom in terms of adoption, but continue to spark some developers’ imaginations – more than two in five developers are engaged with these technologies. However, of these developers, fewer than one in ten are actually working on each of these technologies, and whilst engagement with these technologies dropped over the last twelve months, adoption increased for both – though more for quantum computing (4 percentage points) than self-driving cars (2 percentage points). There is a similar story with brain / body computer interfaces, which is a new technology that we added in the most recent survey-many developers are engaged, but, unsurprisingly, given its bleeding-edge status, very few are actively working on the technology.

We also recently added hearables, DNA computing / storage, and haptic feedback to our list of emerging technologies. Engagement is low with these technologies; on a level with fog/edge computing-between a quarter and a third of developers are engaged. We see that around one in ten engaged developers are actively working on these very nascent technologies, and two in ten are learning about them. Though the engaged audience for these technologies is small, there is a core of developers contributing to their continued progress.

Each of the emerging technologies we have covered encounters different barriers on its path to widespread adoption. For many, the barriers are technological-the advances needed to bring quantum or DNA computing to the mainstream are many years away, but there are also social, cultural, and even legislative barriers which will impede progress. Though important, developers are only part of the puzzle.


Why do developers adopt or reject cloud technologies?

In the nearly fifteen years since Amazon AWS cracked open the cloud market by releasing S3 – and changed the world by doing so – there has been huge growth in the variety of cloud solutions available for developers to use. We examine the different reasons that developers give for adopting or rejecting cloud technologies. The findings shared in this post are based on the Developer Economics survey 19th edition which ran during June-August 2020 and reached more than 17,000 developers in 159 countries.

Of the new cloud technologies which have appeared over the last fifteen years, containers have arguably had the greatest impact. With 60% of developers using this technology, the benefits are clearly widely recognised. However, with just under 30% of developers using container orchestration tools and management platforms, there is still room for this technology to develop.

In second position, with 45% of cloud developers using this technology, Database-as-a-Service (DBaaS) is also very widely used, and data storage and retrieval will continue to be an important issue, albeit in a much more sophisticated form than S3 originally offered. Cloud Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) sits in a distant third place. A third of backend developers are using PaaS, putting this technology slightly ahead of the other ones we ask about – between 21-27% of developers use them.

Why do developers adopt or reject cloud technologies - containers is the cloud technology that is most widely used by backend developers.

Abstraction and simplification are two of the main drivers for the mass adoption of cloud technologies, but we can’t overlook the role that flexibility plays. Spinning up instances to cope with variable demand, creating temporary testing environments, and adding storage as required is immensely powerful. But one often-overlooked aspect of this flexibility is that developers and organisations have the flexibility to choose. They are not restricted to the expensive, bare metal they bought ten years ago, and they are less constrained by monolithic purchasing processes, because, to put it simply, these decisions matter less. In a world where infrastructure can be provisioned and destroyed at will, and where data and server configurations can be transferred easily between homogeneous systems, cloud providers have to find other areas of differentiation in order to compete. Vendor lock-in is much less of an issue for users than it once was, and the rise of the developer as a decision-maker has put even more power into their hands. Note the adoption and rejection reasons for DBaaS and orchestration platforms come from our previous survey, fielded in Q1 2020.

“Pricing and support/documentation are most important to developers”

For every cloud technology, with the exception of orchestration tools, pricing and support/documentation are the two most important factors that developers consider when adopting that technology. For the most part, these two factors switch between first and second place, however, pricing drops to fifth place for developers considering adopting an orchestration tool, whereas support/documentation remains at the top by a large margin. Around three in ten of these developers selected ease and speed of development (32%), integration with other systems (31%), community (30%), and pricing (29%) as reasons for adoption, with pricing being around 15 percentage points lower for orchestration tools than for other technologies. On the other hand, community and scalability are generally more important for developers selecting an orchestration tool.

Much of this distinction is driven by the dominance of Kubernetes. With 57% of backend developers who are using an orchestration tool choosing Kubernetes, it is the single most popular orchestration tool, and importantly, it’s free and open source. It stands to reason, therefore, that pricing is simply not an issue for developers using Kubernetes, instead they value the community support that helps them master such a complex tool.

Indeed, as well as pricing being much less important for these developers, the learning curve is also less important. It seems that these developers understand that they are dealing with high levels of complexity and abstraction and accept that there is a lot to learn in this space. But for those developers that want the abstraction and simplicity offered by a commercial container management system, many paid options exist, and pricing is still an important factor in this space.

Why do developers adopt or reject cloud technologies - Ranking of reasons for adoption

Taking developers’ reasons for rejection into account let us view the decision-making process from the other side. Immediately, we see that pricing is the dominant factor when rejecting every technology. Taking a closer look at the data shows the true extent of this – for DBaaS and Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), developers were more than twice as likely to select pricing as a rejection reason than the second- and third-placed reasons of support/documentation, and the learning curve, respectively. Amongst the remaining technologies, the smallest difference was 8 percentage points, for developers rejecting orchestration tools.

Further down the list, there is a lot of variability between the different technologies. For example, the learning curve was the second most popular rejection reason for developers choosing IaaS, with a quarter of them doing so. This suggests that the learning curve for IaaS is quite steep and that this is a barrier for many developers. This is not the case for DBaaS however, where only 15% of developers stated this as a reason for rejection.

“Suitability, feature set and performance are hygiene factors”

Suitability and feature set has middling importance for developers choosing to adopt a technology, but for many technologies, it is a more important reason for rejection. This shows that suitability and feature set is a hygiene factor – there are relatively few cases where this is of paramount importance, but many where a technology does not meet the needs and is therefore rejected.

Finally, performance sits very low in the hierarchy for developers adopting and rejecting cloud solutions. This indicates that, for the vast majority of uses cases, the range of performance options provided by vendors is sufficient. This suggests that many cloud computing products are, to some extent, homogenous, and that developers are more concerned with the ‘soft’ features, such as support/documentation, community, or learning curve. These features make for a fulfilling development experience, and in the age of the developer as a decision-maker, experience is everything.

Why do developers adopt or reject cloud technologies - ranking of reasons for rejection.

What are your reasons for adopting or rejecting cloud technologies? You can let us know your reasons here!


The state of AR and VR in Asia: Highly developed working practices and a strong pipeline of students

This article originally appeared on DevRelX.     

Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) have been on the cusp of widespread adoption for many years now, but technical and commercial hurdles have impeded this process. For VR at least, it seems that 2020 could be the year when the technology goes truly mainstream – there are already several consumer-grade headsets available on the market and many game studios are following Valve’s Half-Life: Alyx into VR with their own AAA titles. AR, though now ubiquitous on smartphones and available for many industrial applications, still lags behind in adoption due to the more complex technical challenges such as object occlusion. That said, the recent rumours around Apple’s entry into the Mixed Reality (MR) space may spark a wave of innovators hoping to get the jump on them.

What we do know is that as VR, AR and MR achieve greater market penetration, not only will more developers be needed to create the immersive worlds and experiences that consumers demand, but artists and designers will also be required to populate these worlds with convincing inhabitants, create 3D assets and help to realize a creative vision. Fortunately, there is no shortage of hobbyists involved in AR and VR. As we discuss in our State of the Developer Nation report, not only are most people in AR or VR involved as hobbyists but around a quarter of those who work professionally in the two sectors still consider themselves to be hobbyists on the side.

We also discovered that a lot of developers in AR and VR were taking on many different roles, often those that aren’t traditionally associated with being a software developer. In fact, we coined a new term to describe those people who not only write code but who also dip their toes into more traditional creative endeavors. Enter the Hybrid Developer, and we’ll find out more about her very soon indeed.

At SlashData, as the analysts of the developer economy, we have traditionally been focused on understanding developers. But given the contributions that people in more artistic roles make to many sectors, especially to AR and VR, we felt that in order to truly understand this transformational technology, we needed to understand those people who help shape how it looks and feels. So, for the first time, we sought out people working in AR and VR in non-developer roles. We asked artists, creators, filmmakers and their ilk just what it’s like to work in AR and VR and here I’ll be sharing some of our most interesting findings.

What, exactly, is a Hybrid Developer?

First things first. Let’s understand more about these so-called Hybrid Developers. These are people that have a traditional developer role (a software engineer, or a DevOps specialist, for example), but who also take on more creative or artistic roles (artists and filmmakers, for example). This means that we can fit people involved in AR and VR into three categories:

  1. Pure developers – people who only have developer roles
  2. Hybrid developers – people who have both developer and creative roles
  3. Non-developers – people who don’t have developer roles

Generally speaking, around 63% of those involved in software development projects are pure developers, 21% are non-developers, and 15% are in hybrid roles. But people involved in AR and/or VR show very different behaviour. The distribution amongst these roles is much more even, with fewer pure developers (39%), slightly more hybrid developers (31%) and twice as many non-developers. This is a pattern that is replicated, to a greater or lesser degree across many regions, but it is in South and East Asia where these differences are most pronounced.

State of AR VR in Asia

East Asia is further along the curve for adoption of AR and VR

East Asia has very quickly adopted AR and VR, with almost two in five people involved in software development projects contributing to this sector in some way. But as well as being ahead of the curve in terms of the sheer number of people involved in the sector, non-developer AR/VR practitioners here find it easier to enter the space.

From the chart above you can see that in East Asia, AR/VR practitioners are more than twice as likely to be non-developers than people elsewhere in the world. We see this phenomenon replicated to a lesser extent for people not involved in AR/VR, with a correspondingly lower proportion of hybrid developers. We can draw two conclusions from this:

  1. In East Asia, people involved in software development projects are more specialised, taking on fewer hybrid roles.
  2. Non-developers in East Asia contribute more towards software development projects than elsewhere in the world

Looking to South Asia, the spread of roles in this region is much more balanced – not only does this region have a healthy proportion of hybrid developers, but the distribution of AR/VR practitioners between the three categories of pure, hybrid and non-developers is fairly even. Many AR/VR practitioners here have a balanced and varied skill set, with four in ten of them taking on hybrid roles, and this is something that we see replicated in other developing regions, such as the Middle East and Africa.

What types of roles are AR/VR practitioners taking on?

When we delve more deeply into the developer and non-developer roles that AR/VR practitioners take on, we can tease out some more important insights. The chart below shows a subset of all the roles we ask about (out of a total of 25). In East Asia, only two in ten AR/VR practitioners identify as programmers or developers, the lowest of all the regions, and much less than the rest of the world, where almost half of AR/VR practitioners identify as developers. This is another result of the rapid adoption of AR and VR in East Asia – non-developers have been able to enter the space more easily, and the whole AR/VR ecosystem is at a later stage of maturity.

The incidence of AR/VR practitioners in East Asia that identify as product managers, marketers or salespersons provides further evidence for this – once development practises have matured, productisation and monetisation take a front seat. Here, East Asia is also ahead of the curve.

The eagle-eyed amongst you will notice that although East Asia has a much lower proportion of developers, there is not a correspondingly dominant role in East Asia which makes up for this. These ‘missing’ roles aren’t simply hiding in the ones I haven’t shown here. Instead, AR/VR practitioners in East Asia simply do fewer roles. 62% of them take on only a single role, compared to 47% of AR/VR practitioners in the rest of the world. Only 11% of them do four or more roles, compared to a whopping 27% in the rest of the world. Generally speaking, taking on many different roles is a hallmark of being involved in AR/VR (as we discussed in our State of the Developer Nation report), but this is resoundingly not the case in East Asia. Specialization is another result of a sector maturing – roles become more defined and people have to wear fewer hats, working instead collaboratively in specialized teams.

Finally, without wanting to labor the point, the lower incidence of data scientists and machine learning developers is yet another sign that East Asia is ahead of the curve. Data science and machine learning are foundational to the success of VR, and in particular, AR. Many of the advances here have come from image recognition and other technologies which mitigate some of the hardware difficulties faced by people creating for AR and VR. You might expect this to be reflected in the number of AR/VR practitioners identifying as data scientists, but this is not the case. One viewpoint is that these low numbers are simply a correlation with the lower number of developers in general. But it’s also possible that those who are into AR and VR use a higher level of abstraction – instead of building machine learning models, they simply plug into an API and get the results they need and don’t consider themselves data scientists.

As AR and VR become more established in other regions, we can expect to see many of these phenomena filtering throughout the globe, although the differing cultures and economic situations at play mean that each region will develop its own idiosyncrasies. This said, one good indicator that a sector is in ascension is a high proportion of students, and here, South Asia is ahead of the curve, with over half of AR/VR practitioners here identifying as students. Granted, there are more students in South Asia across all the sectors, but it’s particularly high for AR and VR (51%, compared to 38% for those not involved). South Asia is definitely a region to watch for AR and VR development in the future.

State of AR VR in Asia

If this post has piqued your interest or sparked some interesting questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out and let us know. We hold rich and varied information on people involved in AR and VR, and we’re adding to it all the time!

Want to see more? Check out our latest research reports and graphs based on data from developers like you who took our global surveys.


AR/VR Trends in the Ecosystem – Part Two

We continue to look into some of the AR/VR trends in the ecosystem, focusing on the main differences between developers and non-developers active in this space. You can view our first part of this article here.

22% of AR/VR non-developers are learning to code

15% of people involved in AR & VR as non-developers have zero knowledge of how to code, whereas 17% are actively coding to get things done. There is a large range of skills, but the biggest group here are those that are actively trying to build on their coding skills, with 22% of AR/ VR non-developers doing so. This indicates that no-code tools, whilst useful for getting things done, don’t cover the needs of more than 1 in 5 AR & VR practitioners who are subsequently learning to code to overcome these limitations. Despite the large amount of effort – and marketing – that has gone into positioning no-code tools as a solution for non-coders to get into AR & VR without worrying about writing code, a sizeable proportion of those who do get involved subsequently decide they need coding skills to realise their vision after all. This represents an opportunity for platforms aspiring to appeal to non-coders to create more functionality in these tools in order to capitalise on this under-served audience.

Amongst non-developers trying to improve their coding skills the most popular languages are Java (28%), C++ (26%), C# (25%) and JavaScript (22%). 17% don’t write code for their AR/VR projects, and 15% use a visual development tool. This indicates that non-developer AR & VR practitioners see the value in knowing how to code, but that they still want to create things while they’re learning.

AR/VR trends. Non-developers are actively learning Java, C++ and C#

Games is the most popular app category for developers and non-developers alike

AR & VR practitioners are primarily focused on creating entertainment and services products, but the primary focus is different for developers and non-developers. 77% of AR/VR developers are building products in the services category (such as business logistics products) whereas only 67% of non-developers are doing so. 

The most popular category for AR and VR practitioners is games & toys, with 52% of developers and 44% of non-developers working on products in this category. The picture is somewhat different for other entertainment products (such as moves and animation), with 65% of non-developers working on apps in this category and only 47% of developers operating here. This indicates that developers are using their coding experience to experiment and create games in AR and VR, whilst non-developers are inspired by other use cases.

Industrial applications (such as manufacturing and construction) for AR/VR are much less popular for both groups, but a larger proportion of developers are creating products in this category than non-developers. As AR and VR mature and stabilise, commercial applications will become more viable and we will see further innovations in industrial areas from developers and non-developers alike, but the pull of building entertainment apps will still be strong.

AR/VR trends. AR & VR practitioners mainly create entertainment & services products

Which AR/VR skills will you need to sharpen in 2021? Which tools do you think will be irrelevant as early next year? Our State of AR/VR survey is live. Spend 10 minutes sharing your experiences, we’ll donate $0.10 to Techfugees to for every completed response.


AR/VR Trends in the Ecosystem – Part One

Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) have captured the public imagination for decades; from the Holodeck in Star Trek to Ironman’s Heads Up Display, this technology is synonymous with visions of the future. Recently however, AR & VR processing has become commonplace on smartphones and companies like Oculus & Sony have released consumer-quality headsets. In this post we take a look at some of the AR/VR trends in the ecosystem, focusing on the main differences between developers and non-developers active in this space. Let’s look at those AR/VR trends.

AR & VR are the smallest individual software sectors

Considered individually, Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality remain the smallest software sectors out of the ones we research (the others being mobile, desktop, web, games, backend, industrial IoT, consumer electronics, data science & machine learning). Even when combined, AR and VR (AR/VR) are only marginally bigger than Consumer Electronics, the next smallest sector. Only 0.4% of people are involved solely in AR or VR, the rest are involved with at least one other development area.

AR/VR trends – Only 0.4% of developers are involved solely in AR and/or VR

Of the 9% of people involved with AR or VR almost half (46%) are involved with both AR and VR. This shows that there is a significant overlap in the skills needed to work in these sectors. There are more people involved solely with VR (31%) than with AR (24%). AR is slightly less mature than VR and there are some technical challenges in AR (occlusion, optics & object registration, for example) which are still being resolved, this also means that there is a smaller market for AR products, as the technology is less established. This results in a slightly higher barrier to entry and subsequently a smaller number of people involved in AR than for VR only.

AR/VR Trends - 46% of AR/VR practitioners are involved with both AR and VR

AR & VR trends – practitioners are mostly hobbyists

One of the defining features of AR & VR practitioners is their diverse involvement in different development areas. As previously discussed, the number of people involved solely in AR & VR is very small, but in fact, many of them are also involved in multiple development areas. Over 60% of practitioners involved in AR and VR are involved in 5 or more sectors in total. This is a large contrast with respondents who don’t work in AR or VR, where only 9% only are involved in 5 or more sectors.

Most people who are involved in AR or VR are hobbyists, and not just in AR & VR. These people are more likely to be hobbyists in every other sector than people not involved in AR or VR. They are technology enthusiasts who like to experiment outside of their professional duties, and are currently experimenting with AR & VR, potentially with a view to incorporating AR & VR into their existing development projects.

Looking at this from the other side, 28% of VR professionals also consider themselves to be hobbyists in the same sector. Out of AR professionals, 24% take on AR projects in their spare time as a hobby. This is higher than most other sectors, with machine learning being the next highest at 26%, then games at 25%. This shows that AR & VR practitioners are enthusiastic about the sector, often having passion projects on the side.

57% of AR & VR hobbyists work professionally in at least one other development area

We also see more diversity in the type of roles that AR & VR practitioners do. Because AR & VR sit at the intersection of arts and technology, practitioners often fulfill hybrid (both technical and non-technical) roles. In fact 35% of AR practitioners fulfill a hybrid role. Subsequently, people involved in AR/VR are less likely to be ‘Pure Developers’ (people solely fulfilling developer-type roles) than those involved in other sectors. This difference is especially pronounced for respondents working in VR or in AR and VR, with only 34% and 38% respectively working solely in developer roles, compared with 50% of respondents working in AR only.

AR/VR trends - practitioners often fulfill hybrid roles

Practitioners who are involved in VR only, or VR and AR are more than twice as likely as their counterparts who are only involved in AR to be in non-developer roles. This shows that non-developers tend to favour working in VR in some capacity.

Drilling down into the roles, we see that 49% of AR practitioners work as programmers or software engineers, compared with only 37% and 32% respectively for VR practitioners and those who work in both AR and VR. Many AR practitioners are also involved in web & mobile development and machine learning. This suggests that these coders are interested in AR from a technical point of view, looking to challenge themselves by using the latest technology or to implement AR in their projects.

On the other hand, VR practitioners and those involved in both AR and VR are more than twice as likely as AR practitioners to be game designers or work as product managers. The popularity of these roles reflects the quick uptake of VR by the game market – moving from being an emerging technology to generating revenue.

Not only do AR & VR practitioners hold different roles compared to people involved in other sectors, but they also wear a lot of different hats. More than 20% of people involved in AR or VR take on 4 or more roles, compared with only 12% of people involved in other sectors. We already know that AR & VR developers are often passionate hobbyists, but it’s also clear that they have diverse interests and skills. This diversity comes from the fact that as AR and VR development technology matures, tools are appearing which require fewer technical skills to create an AR or VR product. This attracts non-developers who can more easily realise their vision.

AR & VR practitioners take on more roles than people working in other sectors

What other AR/VR trends are there?

Almost as many AR & VR developers use 3D animation software as use IDEs

While there is some overlap in the technologies used by developers and non-developers involved in VR, none of them have a strong appeal for both audiences. The Oculus technology suite comes closest to being the go-to platform for both developers and non-developers, with over 35% of each audience using the platform. Playstation VR, Windows 10 Mixed Reality & Google Daydream all attract a good proportion of non-developers (36%, 28% and 26% respectively), but fail to appeal to VR developers. This landscape creates an opportunity for a technology vendor willing to invest in widening support and access for one (or both!) audiences, as a unified tech stack would provide large efficiency benefits to integrated teams by integrating with other tools and platforms, streamlining training needs and reducing the variety of tools being used.

AR/VR Trends - Oculus leads across all practitioners, but PlayStation VR is equally popular among non-developers

Unity Mobile AR, AR Core and AR Kit lead the pack of software tools for people creating AR products, but all of these tools are favoured more by developers than by non-developers. This suggests that there is space in the AR software market for a tool which allows non-developers to more easily realise their creative vision.

AR software tools appeal more strongly to AR developers than non-developers

Over half of developers use game engines and 48% use 3D modelling and rendering software. The high uptake of these technologies amongst AR/VR developers is testament to the powerful efficiency gains available from the abstraction they offer, as well as that AR, and especially VR, lend themselves to game development.

Over 50% of AR & VR developers use game engines

We’ve already seen that practitioners that undertake developer and non-developer roles (hybrid developers) make up a sizeable proportion of those involved with AR & VR, and this is validated by the popularity of 3D animation software (39%) and designer tools (30%) amongst the technologies used by AR & VR developers. In fact, almost as many AR & VR developers here use 3D animation software as use IDEs!

Backend-as-a-service, ML APIs and app store analytics are all used by less than 15% of AR & VR developers. The usage rate of app store analytics for AR & VR developers is 3 percentage points lower than for game developers, and 10 percentage points lower than for mobile developers. This suggests that AR/VR developers are focusing on getting the basics right, rather than trying to extract maximum value from their apps’ marketing funnel.

Graph depicting technologies used by devs and non devs

We see some overlap in the tools used by non-developers; 49% use 3D modelling and rendering software, 43% use game engines and 42% use 3D animation software. The high usage rates of the more artistic technologies is to be expected, given that these people are, by definition, not developers.

The Adobe toolset is the most popular software tool amongst non-developers, but the next three most popular software tools are all SDKs used by 24% of AR non-developers (ARCore, ARkit and Unity Mobile AR). This begs the question, do non-developers involved in AR & VR know how to code?

What are your biggest pain points in getting into AR/VR development? You can share your experiences in our AR/VR survey.

You can read more AR/VR trends in our State of the Developer Nation report.