Cheat Sheet – Developers, unite! Have your voice heard.

This is a cheat sheet focusing on the Developer Nation 23rd survey wave, giving you all the key details to make the most out of your experience:

11+ years of surveying developers.
The Developer Nation survey has been measuring the preferences, needs and wants of developers for more than 11 years. It’s a dynamic survey where each participating survey taker will have a unique path, based on their own background and experience. 

The Developer Nation Community will be launching its 23rd survey wave on June 2 in English. On June 9, the survey will be available in all other languages: Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese Traditional + Simplified, Korean, Russian and Japanese.

Who is it for
Developer Nation is borderless! Everyone’s welcome! 
The Developer Nation survey is global and open to all. In the previous edition, more than 20,000 developers and creators of all levels – from students to hobbyists and seasoned professionals – from 160+ countries, shared their views. 

We want to hear your opinion if you see yourself as a developer, software engineer or tech creator involved in Web, Mobile, Desktop, Cloud, DevOps, Industrial IoT & Consumer Electronics, AR/VR, Apps/extensions for 3rd party ecosystems, Games, Machine Learning & AI, and Data Science.

If you nodded at any of the above areas or descriptions, this survey is for you. Keep reading for the benefits of participating or start now.

Why participate
There are several benefits for those who take the survey. Some of these are:

By participating, developers can win amazing prizes and unlock more as they proceed, including a complimentary virtual goody bag packed with free resources. 

Premium access to information
Understanding the trends can be paramount to developers’ next career move. We share the results, data and ecosystem insights with the participants and tech organisations who use the data to improve their developer offerings. 

Giving back and helping others
For each qualified survey response, we will donate USD $0.10 to a charity of your choice. Our goal is to reach USD $1,800+ in donations. Take the survey, pick a charity to support, and help us make a difference.

What’s different this time
Every wave is a new opportunity to give developers what they want. Here’s the latest benefits we introduce in this 23rd wave:

  • Weekly prize draws, including everyone who signs up to take the survey.
  • Special Prizes to be drawn for everyone taking the survey in the first 48 hours (2 winners: Nintendo Switch & iPhone 13).
  • A new way to reward participants: the more questions you answer the more chances you get to win. A participant’s name will be included multiple times in draws depending on the number of questions answered. 
  • Prizes include: Nintendo Switch, iPhone 13, Xiaomi RedMi 11, Samsung Galaxy S22, Amazon Echo Dot 4th Gen, Premium Subscriptions and Licences, Vouchers for online courses and tutorials, Gift cards and vouchers for Amazon, Spotify, Apple Store, Google Play, cash to fund your development projects or towards the gear you need up to $1,000 USD and many more prizes drawn every week.
  • Everyone who completes the survey will receive a virtual goody bag filled with free subscriptions, discounts and vouchers. 

You read this far, which should mean you’re interested. Why not start the survey and share your views on key topics only developers can understand? If you’re short of time, you can save your progress and continue later (you’ll need to sign up to save). 

Are you creating for AR/VR?
There is an additional, exclusive, survey dedicated to Augmented, Virtual and Mixed Reality creators, with the same benefits. AR/VR creators can share their reality views using this link.


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.


Game On! AR vs VR

Here at /Data we offer certainty to those that are speculating about software developers: who they are, what they are choosing to do with at work and with their hobby time, and how they are doing it.  We consider ourselves the analysts of the developer economy and often say that we help the world to understand developers…and developers to understand their world.  ARVR


“Google Cardboard 3d, 360 degree video viewer” by mr.racy is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Two of the areas that we are often asked about by big businesses with skin in the game are Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR). Part of my job is to brief top tier organisations on what the developer audience is focussed upon so the companies can make the best decisions. I don’t speculate — I’m not brave enough for that.  Instead, like every analyst at the company, I use our data to find trends and outliers in this emerging sector.

How do we get the data? We ask the people at the coal face, the developers. We do this twice a year through one of the largest and broadest surveys in the developer calendar. We have a set of questions about AR/VR which we update regularly to find out how the latest frameworks and hardware are faring, and which programming languages are most popular. We can tie the data back to the types of apps that developers are creating, whether they work professionally or as hobbyists, and where they are based, among other things. We write reports after analysing the data, which you can find here. The AR/VR reports are in the “Emerging” category.

In the rest of this blog post, I’m going to share a few key facts that we gathered in a recent wave of our survey (Q2 2018). We currently have another survey running and would love to include your opinions; if you share them with us, there’s the chance to win some awesome prizes. Interested? Take the survey. 

ARVR development is immature

OK, that probably came out wrong! AR/VR development is still not a mature area in that it’s hardly established in the same way as desktop or web development. We generally use the more polite term “nascent” to describe an area where most of the developers working in it are hobbyists, though often professionals in other sectors, or students. In nascent areas, we find most developers are simply trying out ideas to find out more about the basics of the technology and work out where to go with it. 

ARVR development is increasing in popularity, with over 20% of our survey respondents saying they had worked on such a project in the past 12 months. Given our estimates of the total worldwide developer population, that gives a global population of AR/VR developers of over 5M.

We see a high number of young, inexperienced developers in this area, which is another sign of a sector that hasn’t yet settled down sufficiently for businesses to build a stable ecosystem of professional developers within it. It’s a sign of churn, where developers try the technology and move on. Most AR/VR apps are developed within the games category and, where they are not, their developers are still uncertain of their audience. Among AR/VR developers, almost 2 out of 3 are not so much bothered about making revenue from their efforts, but are simply interested in gaining experience. 

Virtual reality

Hardware moves rapidly in this sector, and we find ourselves updating our question set for each survey as acquisitions and closures affect the vendor marketplace.

When it comes to VR, developers are clearly keen on sexy dedicated hardware such as Oculus. But our data reveals that the same number of VR developers work with the cheaper, smartphone-based option Google Cardboard. The hardware created by a range of third party device manufacturers, incorporating the Windows 10 Mixed Reality platform (which can also be used for VR) is also highly popular with VR developers. 

ARVR Graph


Augmented Reality

AR is a very different beast to VR. It’s well-suited for a smartphone platform, most famously made popular by Pokémon Go. Huge investments by Apple and Google are paying off. They are keen to get you developing on their platforms because of the massive potential within the app stores (again, see Pokémon Go for an example).

ARCore on Android and ARKit on iOS are the platforms of choice for AR development by some margin. The most popular wearable for AR is Microsoft HoloLens, as Magic Leap had yet to be launched at the time of the survey. It will be interesting to see how things have changed now that device is out of the closet. So, if you’re working on this newest of hardware, tell us about it in the survey!

AR is the simple, more accessible end of the spectrum for developers. The spectrum crosses from more sophisticated mixed reality up to full-blown virtual reality. Developers are finding that AR is a good place to start, particularly during this period where underlying technology and hardware undergoes rapid evolution and pricing levels for consumers start to wobble. Starting with AR, developers can learn how to blend virtual elements ever more seamlessly into the real world, and take their experience later into the convergence zone as virtual reality becomes a more realistic proposition for users and developers alike. It’s the gateway for many, and we are seeing more growth in AR than VR for this reason.


What about working cross platform?

Fragmentation is real, and being able to deploy across a range of hardware is always attractive. If you’re a game developer, and even if you are not, Unity and Unreal provide sophisticated cross platform development and tools that include ARVR. They do come with a steep learning curve so we find them mostly popular with those already initiated (e.g. game devs). Other platforms such as Lens Studio, Spark AR and Sumerian are empowering AR developers, and we want to find out how popular they are becoming in the developer community. 

To get this kind of useful information, and more, we need you in the survey this time around!  We want to know what languages you are using, the hardware, the platforms, and the apps you are creating. Has the new Oculus Quest has piqued your interest and restarted the heart of VR development? Or is AR and mixed reality where it’s at? Why not take the chance to tell us? Help us tell the teams behind these products what you are deciding, so they can do their best to support you. 

Have your say. Take the survey.