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The State of Web Development 2010

Welcome to this detailed report from our second “State of Web Development” survey of professional web designers and developers. It includes details and analysis of all the responses to over 50 questions covering technologies, techniques, philosophies and practices that today’s web professionals employ.

You can download the complete (anonymized) set of responses in CSV format, our PDF infographic overview see just the results to all the questions or read on to dive into our detailed analysis.

“The State of Web Development” survey is brought to you by Web Directions conferences, and Scroll Magazine, and conducted by John Allsopp

State of Web Design overview

Table of Contents

About the survey

Keeping track of current web design and development practice is far from straightforward. We can make some conjectures as to the general consensus about best practices from articles published at recognized sites and forums devoted to web development, but just what developers are actually doing when they develop for the web is much harder to determine. Objective projects like Opera Software’s MAMA can give us a sense of the use of particular technologies, but it’s more difficult to determine when particular sites were developed (and so to determine how practices change over time), and it’s also difficult to conclude from these objective data the underlying practices, philosophies and approaches adopted by developers (for example, how important is it to them that pages look as nearly the same as possible across all browsers).

The goal of this “state of web development” survey is to try and look behind the statistics, and get a sense of the philosophies and techniques, as well as the technologies, that web designers and developers are using today. Over time, hopefully we’ll be able to track changes in how web professionals design and develop for the web.

As noted, this is a subjective survey, and those who took it are self selecting. So, it certainly won’t be representative of all web designers and developers. It’s definitely skewed toward early adopters and self educators, people who keep abreast of developments in these fields by attending conferences, reading popular blogs and sites focussed on these issues and so on.

A sneak peek at some results

In short, what did the survey find? Some quite surprising results include

  • Few respondents use any form of Internet Explorer for their day to day web use, but IE8 is the number one browser developers test their sites in.
  • Google Chrome has jumped dramatically as the browser of choice for developers, to rank 3rd, at 17% just behind Safari at 20%. Firefox remains the number one choice by some way, but respondents were split between 3.5 and 3.6 at the time of our survey. Firefox 3.6 was released only a week before the survey began.
  • Over half of respondents now use Mac OS X as their primary operating system.
  • Nearly a third of respondents (up from 16%) use Mobile Safari, while Android use is at around 4%.
  • JQuery has become even more dominant, with nearly 80% of all respondents using the library, up from 63% last year.
  • Desktop-like application frameworks, such as Cappuccino and SproutCore show little sign of widespread adoption by developers. Perhaps the day of desktop-like web apps is yet to come, or perhaps developers really aren’t looking to build webapps which mimic the desktop.

When it comes to web development technologies, the big stories are CSS3, web fonts and HTML5.

  • More respondents (45%) than not (44%) use CSS3 and experimental CSS, up dramatically from last year (only 22% then were using CSS3 and nearly 70% not)
  • Last survey, only 4% were using font linking using @font-face. This survey that’s climbed to 23%
  • HTML5 is now used to some extent by around 30% of respondents, up from under 10% last survey

There’s a great deal more in the survey, including respondents’ use of server-side technologies (languages, frameworks and database systems), cloud computing resources, JavaScript libraries, and rich media, video and audio technologies.

A year is indeed a long time in terms of web technologies and practices, and we’ve saw some quite notable changes in the many areas in the 13 months between the two surveys, as you’ll see in this report.

If you’d like to dig around with the data, we’ve also made available all the results from the survey in CSV format. There’s all kinds of correlations that readers might be interested in investigating. For example it might be interesting to compare use of HTML5 in government versus large corporations, or in the United States as opposed to Europe. If you are interested, please grab the files and explore them, and let us know anything interesting you might find.

And we wrote our own quick and dirty JavaScript to automatically generate the HTML and CSS based graphs that accompany the data tables. We plan to open source this project as soon as practicable, as we feel it made the process of analyzing and creating this report much simpler than last year. The sortable tables are courtesy of Stuart Langridge’s fantastic “Sorttable” project.

Thanks to those who took the time to do the survey, and for taking a look. Now, sit back and read on for a sense of the state of the web development in February 2010.


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State of Web Development 2010 by Web Directions is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.

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