Eclipse app developers moving to mobile

Android and iOS are the top target platforms for developers within Eclipse's open source community, survey says

It's no secret that mobile applications are becoming more prominent overall amid users moving en masse to handheld smartphones and tablets. Following this trend, mobile application development is gaining momentum within the Eclipse Foundation open source community, according to newly released report.

Findings about mobile computing and other aspects of software development and open source are featured in the Eclipse Open Source Developer Report, compiled this spring. The report surveyed 732 participants in Eclipse. In the mobile computing realm, 20 percent of respondents had developed mobile applications for both external and internal users, nearly double the approximately 12 percent of respondents that had done so last year. Overall, 43 percent have developed a mobile application and only 24 percent had no plans to develop mobile applications at all, a decrease from the 31.6 percent who had no plans in 2011.

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"Android and Apple iOS continue to dominate as the key platforms," said Ian Skerrett, vice president of Marketing and Ecosystem at Eclipse, in a blog post. Android was targeted by nearly 90 percent of developers building mobile applications while Apple's iOS was targeted by almost 80 percent. "It is a bit surprising that more developers are not using cross-platform frameworks. Sixty percent claim to use only the mobile OS SDK. JQuery Mobile (28.6 percent) and PhoneGap (17.9 percent) are the most popular mobile frameworks."

But only 4.1 percent of respondents reported mobile application development as their primary responsibility. Web and rich Internet application development held the top spot as the primary responsibility for 30.3 percent of respondents. The survey also finds more are planning for cloud computing and that 21 percent have deployed cloud applications. Still, about 48 percent have no plans to develop for the cloud, which is down from about 52 percent last year.

Elsewhere in the survey, Eclipse found that 54 percent of respondents contribute to open source because they want to "give back and support" open source. Sixty-one percent said corporate policies allow them to actively participate in open source projects, compared to 58 percent in 2011.

The survey also found that Git is gaining in popularity in the Eclipse software development community as a choice for source code management. Git/GitHub usage increased from 13 percent last year to 27 percent this year. Subversion, meanwhile, declined from roughly 52 percent to about 46 percent, but still remains the most popular code management system.

"For the first time this year we broke out Git and Github. I was surprised to see the vast majority of people specify Git (23 percent) and only 4.5 percent specify GitHub," Skerrett said. "This seems to show a lot of internal Git usage. Potentially a great opportunity for tool providers."

Java, meanwhile, is by far the most prevalent language used by respondents, with 76 percent using it as their primary language. C/C++ was a distant second, showing up as the primary language by just 7 percent, followed by PHP (5 percent) and C (3 percent). In the build and release management space, Maven usage increased from 31 percent last year to 42 percent. "This might be a reflection on better integration with Eclipse and Maven," said Skerrett.

Windows was the primary operating system for developing and deploying software. Microsoft's ubiquitous desktop OS was used by 55 percent of respondents as a development platform, although it did slip from 63 percent last year; Linux was used for development by 32.5 percent of respondents, an increase from 28 percent the previous year. Mac OS X was used as development platform by 12.5 percent of respondents, up from 8.5 percent a year earlier. For deployment, Windows was targeted by 66.5 percent of respondents, followed by Linux at 34.3 percent.

Spring and EJBs (Enterprise JavaBeans) continue to be popular server frameworks, with Equinox and OSGI also increasing. Spring usage, though slipped from about 24 percent to 23 percent, while EJBs rose from about 14 percent last year to 18 percent in 2012. Oracle is waging a campaign to get Spring users to move over to Java Platform, Enterprise Edition (Java EE). Apache Tomcat was the overwhelming choice as primary application server, used by about 33 percent of respondents, followed by JBoss with about 8 percent.

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