Although many developers spend countless hours drudging through code written in years past, there are many developers also creating solutions that tap into the forefront of technology. Even though there has been a great deal of banter around Cloud and mobile development over the past several years, these are not the only areas that have developers' attention. Other topics include Mixed Reality, block chain, IoT, Bots, and Artificial Intelligence. The question you might wonder is, are developers really targeting any of these or are they all simply "fake news?"
In a survey posted to several technical forums, over 600 people have provided indications on whether or not they are using these topics. Specifically, the following topics were listed along with a question asking which of these they are currently developing for or planning to develop for:
- Artificial Intelligence (AI)
- Machine Learning
- Mixed Reality
As mentioned, mobile and Cloud have likely received the most press over the last few years and the most coverage on sites like Developer.com and Codeguru. Having said that, they did not get the highest level of developer focus. Mobile came in forth with just under 28%, whereas Cloud was 6th. Just over 19% of developers say they are developing or planning to develop for the Cloud.
Mixed Reality at the Bottom
One area that has been receiving a great deal of attention recently is Mixed Reality. This can include Augmented and Virtual Reality as well. The Oculus Rift, Halo Lens, and HTC Vive have been on the market for a couple of years now. Google Glass and other similar devices were popular a couple of years ago as well. These have been followed by numerous low-end devices that can use a phone to create a Virtual Reality experience.
With Windows 10, Microsoft has increased the focus on Mixed Reality and in the past few months numerous hardware devices have entered the market from companies such as Acer, Dell, Lenovo, and Samsung, with more on the way. These, along with new controllers, are providing a hardware platform for virtual experiences.
With all of the hardware adding to the past hype, it might surprise some to see that fewer than 12% of developers are targeting this platform, putting it at the bottom of our list.
Blockchain Is More than Just Bitcoins
In the seventh position was blockchain development, with just under 13% of the votes. Blockchain has most often been associated with Bitcoins, but is now being applied to many other solutions as well. Although this is an area that has been predicted to grow, the assumption is that it is still early in its adoption. Having said that, it did come in at a level that indicates that more than one in nine developers are developing or planning to develop for the technology.
Internet of Things Gaining Ground
Even though you might believe that most developers have dismissed the Internet of Things (IoT), nearly one in four say they are developing or planning to develop for it. IoT lands with 22.4% of developers, which puts it fifth on the list. This is nearly 15% more developers than those targeting the Cloud.
Bots Are Not Robots
When bots are mentioned, many people assume the discussion is on robots. In the context of modern development, The term bots is not a short-form reference to robots. Rather, bots are a form of software service or software application that runs an automated task on the Internet. Bots have recently gained popularity for mimicking live interactions on the Web in the form of Chat Bots.
When it comes to developing or planning to develop bots, nearly one in three developers said they are. Bots came in second on the list at just over 30%.
Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence
In third place on the list is Machine Learning with just under 30%, putting it just below bots be about half a percentage point. Machine Learning falls within Artificial Intelligence, which took the number one spot on the list with a relatively large margin with a total just above 38% of all developers.
The Overall Results
The overall results of the survey are presented in Figure 1. I did this survey across three technical discussion forums. At the time of this writing, the survey is still going; however, the results stayed relatively consistent as the more people have answered.
One of the things that is surprising is that many of these technologies overlap. Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence were mentioned above. Cloud scored relatively low; however, it overlaps with nearly all of the other technologies. As such, the expectation would be for it to score higher—not lower—than the others. This could be an indication that technologies such as Cloud and mobile are now become pervasive and thus overlooked on their own because they are a part of the core approach to most development solutions.
Figure 1: Survey Results—What Developers are Programming