Eclipse survey shows Windows decline

In May 2009 the open source Eclipse project surveyed its users. Visitors to the Eclipse site were asked to complete a survey, and 1365 did so. That’s out of around 1 million visitors, which shows how much we all hate surveys. Anyway, this report [pdf] was the result. A similar survey [pdf] was carried out in 2007, potentially making a valuable comparison, though the earlier survey has different questions making direct comparisons difficult in most cases, which is a shame. I especially missed the detail on which Eclipse projects are used most which is well covered in the 2007 report.

Here is what I found interesting. First, there’s a shift towards Linux and Apple Mac in the desktops developers use for Eclipse. In 2007 it was 73.8% Windows, 20% Linux and 3.5% Mac. In 2009 it is 64% Windows, 26.9% Linux and 6.9% Mac.

This is echoed in deployment platforms too (client and server). In 2007 it was 46.5% Windows, 36.6% Linux, 1% Mac; today it is 40.5% Windows, 42.7% Linux, 3% Mac.

Those surveyed were asked what other IDEs they used. I noticed that Microsoft Visual Studio and NetBeans feature fairly strongly; I also noticed that Embarcadero’s JBuilder is hardly a blip on the chart – intriguing, given how popular this used to be in the pre-Eclipse era.

The most popular code management tool is Subversion (57.5%) followed by CVS (20%). For build tools, Ant (33.4%) and Maven (18%).

Here’s an intriguing one: I often hear that Java is only successful on the server. That presumption is not supported by this survey. 23.4% said that desktop client apps are the primary type of software they are developing, compared to 30.2% server, and 24.7% web or RIA apps.

The preferred app server is Apache Tomcat (34.8%) followed by JBoss (12.7%) and Websphere (6.9%).

The most popular database manager is MySQL (27.7%) followed by Oracle (27.3%). That’s 55% for Sun+Oracle, of course, though bear in mind that many of the MySQL users are likely attracted by its free licence.

Before drawing too many conclusions, bear in mind that it is a small sample self-selected by people willing to take the survey; apparently it was also featured by a German technology site which resulted in a larger response from German visitors.

Although it suggests a declining use of Windows – which is especially plausible given the trend towards web applications – it does not prove it beyond the Eclipse community.

And next time – how about using the same questions, which would make it possible to identify trends?

I’ve also written about Eclipse here: The Eclipse Conundrum: can it grow without hurting its contributors?

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