The State of the Web survey results

We’ve just published the report from our first (hopefully) annual “State of the Web” survey.

Some surprising results from the survey include

  • Nearly half the respondents use Mac OS X Leopard, and over half use a non Windows Operating system. Windows XP still outweighs Windows Vista among these users by a factor of 4 to 1 as their operating system of choice.
  • Just a small majority, less than 5%, use any version of Internet Explorer as their primary browser, while Firefox dominates as the browser for choice, with over 60% market share. Safari 3 follows with 21%, and the much talked about Chrome on just 4%.
  • Only a tiny handful use Internet Explorer 8 beta as their browser of choice.
  • Despite the hype of the iPhone, less than 20% of respondents use the mobile web, and a similar number develop sites optimized for mobiles.

Web Development technologies

When it comes to web technology use, standards based technologies dominate.

  • Only 3% of respondents say they never validate their sites while 70% say that they frequently or always do.
  • Only 10% of respondents say they use tables for layout, while well over 90% use CSS for styling their pages.
  • 35% of respondents say they use microformats in their markup.
  • 95% of respondents use JavaScript, and of these, almost all use libraries.
  • JQuery is the dominant library used by some way, with 60% of respondents saying they use it.

With plug-in technologies, Flash continues to dominate, with a market share of around 60%. Silverlight still has a lot of work to do to catch the long time industry leader, with a bare 2%, little more than the Real format. Apple’s Quicktime has a surprising 20% of the market.
Java applets have all but disappeared from the toolset of these early adopter developers.

On the back end, open source accounts for the majority of technologies used. Among server operating systems Linux at nearly 60% is used more than twice as often as Windows at 28%, with Unix also well represented at 17%. Even Mac OS X, which is usually far down survey lists for server OSs, is used by 5.5% of respondents.
Apache at 70% is the dominant web server, with IIS at 23%.

Over 90% sites are database driven, with the open source MySQL at 70% and PostrgeSQL at 10% together accounting for the significant majority of sites by respondents. Microsoft’s SQL Server at 22% and Oracle at 9% were the other widely used database systems.

With server side programming languages, PHP is the most commonly used, at 63%, with JavaScript at 55%, ASP.NET at 17% and Python at 15%. Despite its flavor of the month status, Ruby comes in at 14%, with Java at 12%, indicating that the language which came to prominence with the rise of the web is well and truly being challenged from all sides when it comes to web back end development.

Developers, developers, developer

The day of the web developer has well and truly arrived, with a significant majority of respondents describing themselves as “developers” rather than designers, or a combination of the two. 95% or more or respondents use JavaScript, and over 90% of their sites are database driven.

Read this, as well as all our conclusions, download the complete (anonymized) set of responses as a CSV, see tabular results to all the questions, the questions asked, or dive into our detailed analysis.

No responses to “The State of the Web survey results”:

    • By: George
    • January 6th, 2009

    PHP: 63%
    JavaScript: 55%
    ASP: 17%
    Python 15%
    Ruby: 14%
    Java: 12%

    Total: 176%

    Javascript on the server side? That many people using Rhino? I dont believe it.

    • By: John
    • January 6th, 2009

    Hi George,

    for many of the questions, multiple answers were fine. In this case, I think that perhaps the question may have been misinterpreted by some respondents, who didn’t distinguish between client and server side.

    In future, I expect well see more JavaScript on the server side, but for now, I’m also not sure how accurate this result is


  1. […] results of the 2008 State of the Web survey are now available. Some […]

  2. John, how many people took the survey? That may shed more light on the results.

    • By: Bill
    • January 8th, 2009

    @J CORNELIUS: I’d guess at 68 + 21 + 225 + 235 + 244 + 184 + 231 + 18 + 8 people, but I’ll let you do the math ;-)

    • By: John Allsopp
    • January 8th, 2009

    Hi J

    There were a bit over 1200


    • By: Nick
    • January 8th, 2009

    Do you think you could rearrange the tables a bit to show the counts and percentages in sequence from highest to lowest? Same goes for the bar and pie charts. It would be great if you could provide bar charts instead of pie charts too. These adjustments would make the data easier to read and compare. Otherwise, great writeup of the results.

    • By: John
    • January 8th, 2009

    Hi Nick,

    when I get the chance, I’ll try to do that,

    however do feel free to do so and send them along and I’ll put them up :-)


  3. […] have just finished reading The State of the Web survey results. I was surprised by the results of the survey of current web practices, I always considered myself […]

    • By: Jon
    • January 9th, 2009

    Hi John

    took up Nick’s request and sent you the tables in order of percentage – sent to info at webdirections



    • By: John
    • January 9th, 2009

    Thanks so much Jon,

    I’ll get the revised tables and charts into the report asap

    thanks again


  4. Hi John,

    Thanks for putting this together. Just a quick heads up, the Back end development languages and systems page is supposed to link to the conclusion, but there’s no link.

    Other than that, great work!


    Nathan de Vries

    • By: Brian
    • January 13th, 2009

    Not sure why the Quicktime result is described as ‘surprising’. If you just want to put a movie or sound clip online, it works reliably, whereas WMP never seems to have the right codec and/or you’re trying to use it in an office that doesn’t allow extra software to be installed. It’s always hard to unseat a reliable incumbent. So Silverlight – cool but who cares?

    • By: John
    • January 13th, 2009

    Hi Brian,

    good thoughts. As the compiler of the report, it took me a little by surprise – particularly at 20% – I guess because we tend to think of Flash and Silverlight in this space.

  5. […] Directions have posted the results of their 2008 survey today; full results and selected highlights are available. The most shocking result to me is that 10% of respondents still use tables […]

  6. […] am on January 13, 2009 | # | Tags: dev State of the Web survey results from ~1200 web-developers. Good to see jQuery doing well. […]

    • By: Matthew Riley MacPherson
    • January 13th, 2009

    In reply to George’s question regarding server-side JavaScript: a lot of people don’t know this, but you can write ASP in Microsoft’s JScript. Where I work, a lot of our big sites are run on our IIS server, and we write all of our ASP in JScript (VBScript is a pretty darn awful way to make web sites).

    Apparently, you can develop ASP in a few other languages too, but I’ve never investigated that. JScript is pretty nice though.

  7. […] the Web Directions conferences, and “Scroll” magazine. You can catch the summary here: And the full results here: […]

    • By: Russ
    • January 14th, 2009

    Interesting to note that in the very short period of time that Google Chrome has been about, it already commands a slightly increased user-base over the far more established Opera. I appreciate this was a survey of developers but I’d be keen to here possible reasons for this – surely Chrome isn’t “better” than Opera!? ;-)

  8. Curious about the percentages for databases:

    Over 90% sites are database driven, with the open source MySQL at 70% and PostrgeSQL at 10% together accounting for the significant majority of sites by respondents. Microsoft’s SQL Server at 22% and Oracle at 9% were the other widely used database systems.

    70%+10%+22%+9% = 111% ??

  9. After re-reading some of the commentary, I’m guessing that the 111% is due to some people making multiple selections for database?

    • By: John
    • January 17th, 2009

    Hi Peter,

    I didn’t document it as well as I should have but you guessed correctly – where it makes sense, folks could give multiple answers – such as databases, languages, and so on. In other cases – like primary OS or browser, only on answer was possible