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AI and Heterogeneous Systems

June 26, 2019


Artificial intelligence and machine learning are activities that are highly compute intensive.  This means that the hardware that developers use to implement AI systems is very important for the success of the project. This is true of new projects as well and the retrofit of existing legacy applications.  When thinking about the hardware requirements for AI projects, considerations about CPU use vs GPU use are always surfacing, as we see in our latest Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning Survey. In this survey of over 500 professional developers actively working with AI and ML and conducted in May 2019, we explored the implications and usage of both CPUs and GPUs when working with AI systems.

Many systems require the use of at least one CPU and one GPU, and sometimes other forms of accelerators. While these architectures are two different types of integrated circuits, they aren’t necessarily part of a heterogeneous hardware approach. Heterogeneous hardware is the inclusion of multiple types of architectures on the same memory bus that can run instructions in parallel and share from the same pool of memory. The proximity and sharing of resources reduces the memory needed for scheduling, but also requires particular attention to how memory is shared.

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Measuring and Forecasting Developer Populations

November 19, 2018

Some market data is current and measured.  Some looks to the future and is forecast.  While very different from each other, each has its own value and reliability.

For example, Evans Data’s recently released Global Developer Population and Demographics Report , shows a total worldwide population of approximately 23 million developers.  This is forecast to grow to 27.7 million by 2023 which is based on a growth rate that varies slightly by year but turns in an average of 3.86%.  Growth projections are based on a very long and solid regression analysis going back to 2006 and, barring a huge economic event of some kind, they are quite reliable.

In the same study we find that 7.3 million developers are using Clouds for their development environment (either public, private or hybrid), meaning they write their code, debug, build etc in the Cloud itself.  Cloud vendors of course encourage this and often supply tools and incentives for developers to work in their Cloud environments.  These efforts have been very successful and we find that an additional 4.9 million developers report that they EXPECT to be developing applications in the Cloud within the next 6 months.  That’s a highly significant growth rate and if that were achieved and repeated every six months for 1.5 years the Cloud would be the ONLY environment that developers would use in just two years.

But there’s a big caveat.  Developers are wonderful beings, but they’re not prescient.  And for this question they are using their intuition rather than any type of data analysis.  They have been predicting a similar adoption rate for Cloud development for several years; and though the Cloud as a development platform has definitely grown, it hasn’t grown to that extent in any six month period.

That’s why we think of the future intentions that developers tell us as just that – intentions.  But make no mistake, intentions are important.  They not only tell you what the person thinks he’s going to be doing, but in most instances they imply what he wants to be doing or what technology he thinks will be successful. This glimpse into the psyche is essential for product strategy, as well as marketing, messaging and positioning.  Current attitudes and perceptions highly influence actual future adoption and can they can be an invaluable resource to inform a product strategy for great results.

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How Fast do Developers Move Along?

October 18, 2018

There’s a tendency in our industry to assume that software developers immediately migrate to the newest version of any tool or technology as soon as it’s announced, and there’s a bit of truth in that.  Certainly many developers are passionate about technology and adopt “bleeding edge” innovations even as they’re in beta before production release.  But while developers do tend to become excited about technology evolutions and love to try them, there are actually a lot more considerations to be taken into account when abandoning a tool, platform or technology than when adopting a new one.

Embracing the newest tech is initially easy because there’s no background or canvas to be worked into the project unless and until the project has to integrate with existing technology.  But giving up older versions can cause a realm of trouble because newer versions may not support the same functions as previous versions or may not be compatible with software created with and/or around the older technologies.

In our newly released Global Development Survey 2018 -2 report we found that while just over 53% of developers will continue to use a tool or other technology no longer than 6 months after it has been discontinued, another 29% will continue to use it for up to 2 years after discontinuation, 8% will use it up to 5 years, and 10% will use the discontinued tool or technology indefinitely – basically never abandoning the old technology.

This survey was conducted last month in 6 different languages worldwide so we can see some regional variations in the length of time a developer will keep using an obsolete technology.  Latin American developers, in particular tend to want only the latest and greatest, and this may be because this emerging region doesn’t have the historical legacy baggage that slows down other regions.  On the other hand, the EMEA region is most likely to be where developers will never give up their old tools or technologies.  APAC region also has lots of early adopters, and North America is middle of the pack.

So, just because a vendor discontinues a product, don’t think usage will dry up overnight – it could take a long time to move all developers to a new version.

Developer Outreach and Marketing

July 12, 2018

On first look, software developers appear to be a more distinct and well-defined market segment than most others, which should make it easier to market to them. It’s always simpler to create messaging and positioning for a target market that is uniform and cohesive than it is for a very diverse market.  And so developers give the appearance of being easy to market to.

After all, there are important primary characteristics that set developers apart from the general population. They write programs professionally, and as a result a very particular type of mental acuity and skill set is more likely to be found among this group than the general population. The very act of programming requires certain characteristics. The successful developer is logical, has a keen eye for detail, and responds to mental challenges with a kind of inquisitiveness that can be associated with analytical and creative mindsets.  Developers are usually more cerebral, curious and way more literal than others.

However, while there is a measure of homogeneity amongst developers that can aid marketing professionals who are trying to reach and persuade them, there is also a level of divergence from the general population that makes developer focused marketing unique.  Developers frequent and place confidence in different media than the general public; they appreciate different forms of touch, and different elements in messages are more likely to resonate with them.  In addition, there is not just one form of development and the types of development this group of people engage in can be so diverse that reaching out to them requires a special understanding of what they do, in addition to an understanding of who they are and what media they trust.

You can do research to find out the specifics of today’s developer and we do.  We can tell you lots of data that can aid in your development of a marketing campaign and strategy.  For example, developers answer to a variety of titles in their jobs, the most common being programmer, development manager, or project lead, though titles vary considerably by company size. They are overwhelmingly male. Although the female contingent is growing, males still comprise at least three out of every four developers – the ratio varies according to geography, but both mean and women developers think there should be more women involved.

Their median age is 36 in most places in the world. They tend to be married, and to have one or two children. The typical developer has between three and 10 years of experience, and has a high-level academic degree — a bachelor’s degree or higher — though there many developers who continue to learn on the job in order to keep up with the ever changing technology.

These are valuable fundamentals on which to build a strategy, but you still need the insights that only experience in marketing to developers can bring.

Providing that insight and understanding for marketing success is what motivates us at Evans Data to host our annual Developer Marketing Summit.  This year it’s on September 17 and 18 in San Jose. We’ve got two full days filled with insights, networking and knowledge headed by the top developer marketing professionals from virtually all of the major players in the industry.  Intel, Amazon, Microsoft, Facebook, Salesforce, and many more will provide powerful insights into how to successfully reach and motivate software developers.  Don’t miss this very important event.

Augmented Reality Use Cases

May 25, 2018

Imagine going into a store, tacking your steps on a visual display map on your phone and seeing bright red stars over everything you’ve bought in the store over two weeks ago and thus might need again.  Or strolling through Paris and pointing your phone at a building and getting a visual history of it from the 17th century to the present, then turning around and pointing at an insect on a flower and getting the names of both and maybe some animation depicting how they pollinate.

These are commonly dreamed up implementations of augmented reality (AR) for consumers.  They’re fun, interesting and easy to understand, but they’re probably not the first area where AR is going to flourish and come into its own.

According to our recent Evans Data Global Development survey, software developers who are actively creating AR applications today are most commonly targeting industrial design for their apps.  Almost a quarter of the world’s software developers claim to be kicking the AR tires, trying out AR in projects, experimenting, or actually working on functional apps.  Of those, 17%, the largest group, are targeting industrial design.

The survey, conducted in over 100 countries and in six different languages, showed that augmented reality functionality within apps is being adopted particularly strongly in emerging market regions in APAC and Latin America, but it was the EMEA region where the strength of industrial design was most clear.

But what does that mean?  Industrial design today is done with CAD programs, drawings, applied mathematics, electrical and mechanical engineering tools, models, and so on.  For each widget there is a lot of time and resources required as well as diverse steps and tools.  But imagine AR applied to industrial design.

This would mean a product design environment where your design exists as a 3D object, projected virtually in the space before you – sort of like a hologram.  This 3D image is constantly fed information from the physical world as well as the virtual one, so your virtual product behaves just as it would if it actually existed.  It would simplify and speed product design as we’ve never known it.  New and better products would be able to come to market in a fraction of the time.

Now, it should be pointed out that the number of developers targeting industrial design is a very small plurality.  Commerce and engineering are next, followed by numerous other use cases that get single digit responses.  So this new emerging market is still fractured and forming, but it’s exciting to think about all the ways AR will be able to change our lives in a million different ways – through healthcare advances, retail, travel, entertainment, you name it!

Are Hackathons Losing their Luster?

April 18, 2018

For the last several years, companies who want to attract software developers have been betting big on hackathons.  Set up a little coding event in a school or clubhouse – or better yet your own facility if you have something that can be used –  publicize it, buy some pizza and sodas as motivational refreshments, and just sit back and wait for the developers to stream through the doors, start coding and become so enamored with your company and products that they’ll not only thoroughly adopt your APIs or platforms but they’ll also tell all their friends to do that too.  Right?

Well, maybe or maybe not.

The world has become totally interconnected which means that more and more companies outside of the usual realm of platform and tool companies are aware of the need to connect with developers.  To connect with those developers companies are opening up APIs.  Open APIs are proliferating everywhere and if you’ve got an API you’ve got a platform, and if you’ve got a platform you need developers to adopt and support that platform.

We’ve seen numerous companies trying to adapt to this new reality by putting together a small team and charging them with populating their platform.  For many that has meant putting on a hackathon, or maybe a whole series of them and that’s about it.  As Evans Data continued to measure developer sentiment, actions and technology adoption we watched the number of hackathons that developers attend rise each year and saw our clients devoting quite a lot of resources to them.

But now the tide seems to be turning. The number of developers who attended a hackathon declined significantly in 2017 according to the newly released Evans Data Developer Marketing 2018 survey report. The survey showed that 70% of developers in 2017 had gone to at least one hackathon, which is a significant 19% decrease from the 83% that went to at least one in 2016. At the same time, those who went to only a small number of hackathons increased while those attending many hackathons showed a marked decrease.

And it wasn’t just vendors who were putting these on. Of those who attended hackathons, 46% said they went to one sponsored by a commercial vendor while 42% attended one sponsored by a local developer organization, and 37% went to one sponsored by a school or university.

It’s not entirely a surprise.  One had to wonder how long the hackathon phenomenon would go on in its current state. Hackathons have become a crutch for many developer marketing professionals who don’t really understand what to do, but while they are good for getting limited grass roots support for platforms or tools, they are also labor intensive for marketers, they involve cost, and by their very nature are extremely parochial and thus limited in reach.  When one considers the amount of resources it takes to reach probably less than 100 developers it really doesn’t add up.

So what’s next?  Online contests deliver far more bang for the buck, but for in-person events, try meetups. Last year almost three quarters of developers went to at least one meet up.

The new Developer Marketing 2018 survey is exclusively focused on tactical marketing outreach efforts and understanding developers. The 221 page reference covers topics such as: Demographics, Firmographics, Psychographics, Purchasing Authority, Outreach Vehicles, Motivations, Using Social Media for Recruitment, Training, Conferences and Hackathons, Encouraging Participation in an Online Community, Using Search Engines for Marketing and more. Margin of error is 4.2%.

More on developers……..

Proving Worth at Evans Data’s 14th Annual Developer Relations Conference

March 29, 2018

This past Monday and Tuesday we celebrated the 14th year of bringing top developer relations professionals, evangelists, and strategists together in a one of a kind event.  The conference highlights the methods and insights of professionals in the largest software companies in the world, and allows free and easy discussion amongst peers.  While some little shows have sprung up lately geared for program managers in small companies and startups, the Evans Data conference is designed for the biggest and the best.  Some of our speakers and keynotes included executives from Intel, Amazon, IBM, Google, Facebook, HP, Ford Motor Company, Salesforce, General Electric and more!  We also featured Guy Kawasaki, legendary trail blazer in the developer relations space.

The conference was packed – sold out, and we think we’ll need a new venue next year. Plenty of  great insights being shared.  Throughout the two days attendees were able to benefit from stimulating conversations, workshops and sessions addressing the hottest issues in this area.

One of the biggest concerns of professional at even these large companies was how do developer relations professionals prove their worth to the other departments/ management of the company.  Of course some companies are more enlightened about this than others, but it’s nonetheless a concern everywhere.  Another way of putting it is how do developer relations professionals demonstrate an ROI on their developer programs?

Counting active users, showing an increase in frequency of developer web site visitors, attendance at hackathons or other events were discussed, but these only measure changes in reach or effectiveness.  To demonstrate an ROI requires connecting the program’s activities to company revenue in some way. We talked about following a developer’s journey from awareness to evaluation to purchase or adoption and then measuring the difference between those who join a program and those who do not – a long and arduous process that may or may not show true indications.

It’s far easier to show the worth of a program to the developers themselves – ask them.  We’ve found that 69% of developers say they won’t adopt an API that isn’t supported by a program.  Sixty percent say a program helps improve the quality of their code or provides their personal productivity.  Forty percent say being in a program typically cuts their development time by 30% or more.

Into the Future

January 3, 2018

2017 is history and 2018 is officially underway, and that means it’s time for our annual look into the future and what the new year will bring for software development.  As most of you know, Evans Data is the top resource for market intelligence on software developers.  This month marks our 20th anniversary of focusing exclusively on software developers and continually surveying them to find out what technologies they’re adopting, what their issues and goals are and what they think is going to happen in the future of software.  We also have tremendous insight from our clients.  Each day we talk with them and we find out what they are interested in knowing and what technologies they are exploring and planning to develop.  So, we’re in a pretty good position to hoist a crystal ball and foretell what the big technology news will be in 2018.

BitCoin and BlockChain

Well, you don’t need to have much inside information to know that BitCoin has taken the investing world by storm.  During 2017 the price of the digital currency surged more than 1,900 percent and at one point almost touched $20K. But as stock traders will point out, there’s definitely a bubble when even people who have no idea what an asset is are talking about it and trying to buy in.  BitCoin is now what is called “highly frothy” and we, like most financial observers, think that 2018 will see that bubble pop.  BlockChain, on the other hand, is here to stay and will continue to quietly grow as we go into the year.  The basic architecture of blockchain creates a distributed ledger system which makes for secure transactions which can always be verified and traced (though in some cases with difficulty).  Thus it is very useful in the financial world.  But we think it will also see wide acceptance in other areas such as healthcare, energy, defense and more.

Artificial intelligence and Machine Learning

While BitCoin took the spotlight, the real surge in tech adoption came from the adoption of Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence.  This was spurred by an intense interest as well as a flood of new tools and libraries such as Tensorflow, Caffe, Watson and others that help developers easily incorporate machine learning into their apps.  By the end of 2017, more than 6.5M developers worldwide (29% of the world’s developer population) were integrating some machine learning techniques into their apps, while another 5.8M were planning to. While the largest group is within the APAC region, North American adoption is also hot.  Expect this to grow.

Augmented Reality

It’s easy enough to imagine augmented reality when it comes to games, as Pokemon Go so amply demonstrated, but that’s just a tiny fraction of what the technology can be used for.  We’re predicting a lot more implementations in the healthcare field, where doctors can now “look inside” a patient, or how about the remote specialist essentially projecting his hands into the display of a surgeon on site wearing Google Glass.  In manufacturing the uses are limited only by one’s imagination.  For example, service technicians and manufacturers can walk up to any item that has IoT technology and immediately have access to the object’s specs, inventory, location, and lead times.  In education, AR can replace outmoded and awkward learning tools.  The power and versatility of AR means its use is only limited by our imaginations and we foresee lots more AR use cases in the coming year.

Quantum Computing

This is the most nascent of the hot technologies for 2018, but one of the most far-reaching.  Simplistically, quantum computing veers away from our established bit based, on-off electrical circuit computing by allowing for superpositioning in which a state may be on or off or a combination of both.  Based on principles from quantum mechanics, this new technology is being pioneered by the likes of Google, IBM and Intel and while it may not command a lot of attention in 2018, the foundation that is created this year will be of utmost importance in the years to come.

AI – Threat or Not? Software Developers’ Take

July 28, 2017

Well of course AI is a hot topic in software development and in the software community in general.  Developers everywhere are finding ways to incorporate one or more of the varied forms of AI including machine learning, deep learning, pattern recognition, conversational systems, real-time data analysis and more. AI adoption is everywhere.  But you really know it’s a hot topic when software Silicon Valley titans like Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg get into a public tiff about how AI is going to impact us.

Telling the future is an imprecise art and developers are not prescient; however, as practitioners, they may have some insight. In June we published the next edition of our ongoing Evans Data AI and Big Data Survey – a survey of developers actively working in these areas – and asked them not only what AI projects they’re working on now but how their projects are going to impact people and their jobs.

The majority of their current projects (51%) are seeking to replace IT activities. This was also the category most developers (47%) were seeking to supplement.  That’s right, traditional IT tasks are most directly in the bull’s eye, and that’s likely to be the first community to see the impact. Is that for better or worse?

It’s clear that artificial intelligence is going to displace workers. There’s been lots of talk about robots replacing unskilled workers – burger flippers and such – and this is already happening, but AI and robotics aren’t the same thing, and the jobs that AI will replace or supplement are jobs that require a lot of cognition. It’s logical that it would start within the computing arena itself, and there seems to be a lot of excitement about it in that area.

But it spreads out from there. Customer support was the second most targeted category, selected by 41% of developers, while operational decision making was the second most selected job category for supplementation. These are areas that most of us would agree could use some help.  The industries that are being addressed most frequently are, once again, the computer or software engineering industry, followed by telecommunications and manufacturing.

Obviously AI will change a lot of things, starting with the software industry itself, but that doesn’t call for doom and gloom.  When asked what the most exciting things they saw AI bringing, the developers said “Integration of machine learning with IoT” – the marriage of two new technology implementations that both hold significant promise, also “Real-time transactional databases”, which is hardly threatening, and “Predictive analytics”.  Of course it’s possible these could “turn bad”, but it’s most likely that these types of implementations will instead usher in new efficiencies and open up areas and opportunities that haven’t even been thought of before.

Throughout history people have been afraid of the future and of the technologies that shape that future, but so far those innovations have been a boon to mankind.  Developers are smart and they are passionately embracing AI, so if we had to make a call on whether AI developers would side with Elon or Mark, my bet would be that Mark would come out ahead.

The Changing Face of Software Developers

April 20, 2017

We all change as time goes by, but when we’re talking demographics sometimes those changes aren’t always what we might expect.  Take software developers, for example.  Developers are for the most part getting younger.

The median age of today’s software developers has decreased overall on a worldwide basis according our recently released Developer Marketing 2017 survey report. This report shows the median age of developers by region and trends in the four major regions going back ten years.

The overall age decline is largely due to an increase in younger Latin American developers, where the median age is now 35 as well as to the APAC region where the median age is 34. Developers in the EMEA region, typically the oldest developers have also gotten younger with a median age of 40 – down from 42 last year. The median age of developers in North America remained steady at 39.

However, the real change that has been occurring is the rise in number of women developers. That number has quadrupled in the last ten years, with sharp increases over the last few years. Today, more than a quarter of all developers are women when we look at the worldwide population. The largest area of growth for the number of women developers is occurring in the APAC region, and in emerging regions such as APAC and Latin America that growth is being driven by young women entering the profession.  In APAC the percent of developers under 30 years of age who are female is almost 40%.  North America has the smallest percentage of female developers of all regions, with just less than 18%, but that’s a lot of growth compared to ten years ago..

Many major technology vendors have gone out of their way to try to get women involved in STEM activities, and organization devoted to getting women into technology like “Girls Who Code” have been making significant progress towards evening out the gender basis in technology.  Looks like it’s working!