Web Directions Conferences for web and digital professionals

Development technologies

Contents: Report Introduction Browsers HTML5 Native Apps Platform Choice The Wrap

Let’s turn now to the technologies developers are using to develop sites and applications, aboveall, HTML5 and JavaScript.

JavaScript Frameworks

The Ajax revolution of the last 4-5 years has seen web sites increasingly adopt the interactivity of applications, and the rise of “webapps”. This in no small part has been due to the rise of powerful JavaScript frameworks, of which previous surveys have shown JQuery now dominates in terms of developer share (this year’s survey has 85% of our respondents using JQuery, nearly 10 times the number of its nearest rivals).

But when we turn to frameworks specifically for mobile and tablet application development, the field is definitely more open. Here are the responses regarding JavaScript frameworks specifically focussed on mobile/tablet development.

Answer Count Percentage
SenchaTouch 49 3.59%  
SproutCore 6 0.44%  
JQuery Mobile 170 12.45%  
Zepto 28 2.05%  
JQTouch 94 6.88%  

It’s not surprising that JQuery Mobile, with such a strong community has already garnered the greatest developer share. JQTouch commands a healthy developer share, but is a far more limited framework by design – focussing specifically on webkit based phone app development. We suspect it will continue to be used where developers want a straightforward native iPhone style app, but as developers look to build ever more sophisticated applications, more flexible frameworks like JQuery Mobile, SenchaTouch and Sproutcore will most likely continue to gain. Sproutcore is has been around the longest of these three frameworks, and its lack of traction is somewhat sueprising. Perhaps it’s the relative complexity of installation, perhaps it’s the more monolithic style (both of which are being addressed by the developers), perhaps it’s the focus on “desktop class” applications (something we’ve observed in previous surveys developers seem little interested in focussing on). The next 6-12 months will be crucial, but as we saw with the JavaScript frameworks battle some years ago, it’s not necessarily the first mover which wins.

HTML5

What more than anything has breathed life into the mobile web application space is what is loosely termed “HTML5”. This is no place to rehash the various debates about what the term means, though in broader parlance, beyond a hard core of developers, it’s clearly become a shorthand for “sexy web technologies”. In this survey we asked about developers adoption of HTML5 in the more strictly technical sense – we asked about CSS3 adoption separately. But for this HTML5 section, we are lumping in aspects such as geolocation support which aren’t strictly HTML5.

In this survey, we asked a number of questions about HTML5 adoption, which we’ll cover in more detail in the main report, but for this report we’ll focus on HTML5 and related APIs, and use of the canvas (rather than HTML5 markup). We asked two questions in relation to HTML5 APIs – firstly, how many developers use them, and secondly, which do they use.

Do you use HTML5 APIs (geolocation, client side storage, webworkers etc)

2011

Answer Count Percentage
Yes 327 23.94%  
No 905 66.25%  

Which is clearly a very significant increase in the 12 or so months since our 2010 survey.

2010

Answer Count %
Yes 128 9.13%
No 1121 79.96%

So, which APIs are they using?

Answer Count Percentage
Geolocation 243 74.3%
Selectors API 65 19.6%
Web Storage 181 55.3%  
Indexed database 19 5.8%
File API 44 13.5%
Web Workers 37 11.3%
Websockets 62 19%
Web SQL (deprecated) 12 3.7%
Drag and Drop 73 22.3%

2010

API Count %
geolocation 57 45%
client side storage 40 31%
web workers 4 3%
drag and drop 3 2.3%
file api 2 1.6%
websockets 2 1.6%

Here, the percentage expressed is of those who use HTML APIs, not of total respondents

Across the board, both in terms of numbers, and percentage, the use of all HTML5 APIs is up considerably. To give a sense of how big a change this is, in 2008, we didn’t even ask about the use of HTML5 APIs, with no comment about the absence of questioning.

The use of HTML5 APIs represents the clearest indication that the web of applications is really starting to deliver on its long held promise.

The Canvas

Particularly when it comes to game development, the HTML5 canvas element is an extremely important relatively recent addition to the developers’ toolset. We asked developers whether they use the canvas, and how extensively.

Do you use the Canvas element?

2011

Answer Count Percentage
No 904 66.18%
A little 298 21.82%
Extensively 30 2.20%

How does this compare with previous years?

2010
Answer Count %
No 1045 74.54%
A little 193 13.77%
Extensively 20 1.43%
2008
Answer Count %
No 989 80.15%
A little 111 9.00%
Extensively 9 0.73%

Each year, there has been a significant increase in the number and percentage of respondents who use the canvas, both extensively, and somewhat, something we’d expect to continue, and accelerate, as in particular mobile game development using web technologies really takes off.

Next we’ll look at how many web developers are developing native apps, and how they are doing so.

Contents: Report Introduction Browsers HTML5 Native Apps Platform Choice The Wrap

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