Conclusions

What conclusions can we draw from this broad range of 50 or so questions? A number of broad trends, some of which we’ve referred to already, seem to emerge from all this data.

Open Source dominates

Open Source solutions dominate, or play a very significant role in most areas other than client operating systems including

  • the browsers respondents use themselves
  • database systems
  • back end programming environments
  • server operating systems
  • web servers
  • JavaScript libraries and Frameworks

The only area in which closed source dominates is client side operating systems, where 95% of respondents use a closed source operating system.

Where’s the cloud?

Despite the buzz around “cloud computing”, there was little if any mention of cloud based solutions for hosting, particularly services like Amazon’s EC2 and S3. While we didn’t ask specifically about the use of such services, the fact that they went virtually unmentioned by respondents indicates the day of cloud computing is still on the horizon.

Developers, developers, developers

We’ve mentioned a number of times the way that respondents saw themselves predominantly as “developers”, which is also reflected in the use of JavaScript by 95% of respondents, and the overwhelming majority of sites using dynamic database driven models rather than being static sites.

In future will web professionals become increasingly generalists, expected to, and able to use a combination of front and back end technologies? Or, will we see a growing specialization, as the level of sophistication required for various aspects of design and development increases? In future surveys it might be interesting to ask respondents what percentage of time they spend on various aspects of design and development — for example wireframing, page mockups, HTML and CSS, JavaScript programming, backend programming and administration.

The mobile web cometh?

Despite the hype around iPhone, and Android, and the widespread availability of excellent browsers on a wide variety of mobile devices, gaming platforms, and even televisions, even among these early adopters, the focus is squarely on traditional web browsing platforms — the laptop and PC.

With only around 20% of respondents using the mobile web, it may be at least some time before we see wide spread adoption of the web outside the traditional web browsing contexts, if early adopter behavior prefigures wider technology adoption patterns.

Best Practices on the rise

For decade or more, individuals, and groups like the Web Standards Project, have advocated for the use of standards in development, and a number of recommended practices, such as the separation of presentation, content and behavior, the use of valid semantic markup, the avoidance of presentational markup and so on. While objective studies like Opera’s MAMA indicate that there’s still some way yet to go even among member companies of the W3C, among respondents, adherence to these recommended practices (or at the very least, acceptance of their importance) is strong.

Current browsers, not legacy browsers come first

Despite the fact that versions of Internet Explorer still account for over 70% of the browsers used on the web, respondents to the survey indicate that their approach is to develop to standards, and only then ensuring (if at all) their sites work properly in versions of Internet Explorer. This is a significant change in a relatively short period of time. Anecdotally, we increasingly less often see the “best viewed in” message when browsing the web, and these together suggest we are beginning to see a viable browser neutral web for the first time since the bad old day’s of the browser wars of the mid to late 1990s.