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Six Years and Counting: Developers Weigh in on the State of the Java Market : Page 3

As part of our comprehensive analysis of the past, present, and future of a breakthrough development technology, we asked Java developers where they stand on the tools and technologies that make Java work for them.


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We wanted to know how Java developers were using specific tools to develop and deploy applications. And we wanted to know how they felt about the current product offerings within each of the major tool categories. To do this, we asked respondents a series of questions designed to find out:

  • Comparative market reputation of each product
  • Comparative customer reputation of each product
  • Market share of each product
  • Expected net change in market share over the next year

Of the questions in this series, integrated development environments (IDEs) yielded the most interesting findings. Only 65 percent of the total respondent base uses any IDE at all. A fair number of Java developers, it seems, would rather hand-code in Emacs or possibly Notepad and then use a standalone tool for compiling. Debugging is often performed by printing variable contents to the screen. Of those developers who do use an IDE, few restrict themselves to only one.

Figure 4. Reputation of IDE Tools: Percentage of those who gave each product a 5 rating (on a scale of 1 to 5), broken out by a) all respondents and b) respondents who use the tool
 
Figure 5. IDE Current/Future Use: This pink area shows the current marketshare for each vendor/product listed, by percentage. The green area shows the net change in marketshare over 1 year, based on the number of respondents who said they would adopt, stay with, or abandon that product line.
 


Borland is still the name to beat. Sometimes we wonder whether any vendor will ever eclipse Borland's long and amicable friendship with the developer rank-and-file. Nearly 20 percent of our respondents gave JBuilderthe highest ranking of 5. A whopping 34 percent of respondents gave the product a 4 (data not shown).

Allaire's JRun Studio and Oracle's JDeveloper ran neck-and-neck in our survey. Surprisingly, JRun edged out JDeveloper in many metrics; though the difference was minuscule, most developers said they had a more favorable view of JRun than of JDeveloper. However, JDeveloper did edge out the Allaire (now Macromedia) product slightly in current users, with 17 percent to 15 percent, respectively. The JRun application server also made a healthy showing in our survey (see below).

Tomcat Mania
Java developers are embracing the Apache-based Tomcatapplication server in a major way, and why not? It's free. The highest concentration of Tomcat users are those who said they primarily build client-server applications (49 percent use Tomcat, data not shown), multi-tier applications (48 percent), and corporate enterprise applications (also 48 percent), though usage was in the high 40s across the board, regardless of concentration.

Tomcat is no-frills, but our research leads us to believe that may be exactly the way developers like it.

The Sun/Netscape Alliance's iPlanet app server made a mediocre showing in our survey, both in reputation (only 5 percent ranking it a 5—see Figure 6) and future adoption plans (3 percent said they would move to iPlanet in the next 12 months—see Figure 7).

Perhaps the biggest news of all is that the JRun application server is close behind both BEA's WebLogic and IBM's WebSphere. JRun hasn't had a lot of time to gain maturity because Allaire only acquired the technology as part of its purchase of LiveSoftware in 1999, but the product's low entry price has surely been a key factor in putting this product squarely on the map quickly. It's also been well reported as a product that's notably easy to install and use. However, note in Figure 5the low number of respondents who said they would be adopting the product in the next 12 months. Net market increases for BEA and IBM look far healthier.

Figure 6. Reputation of Application Servers: Percentage of those who gave each product a 5 rating (on a scale of 1 to 5), broken out by a) all respondents and b) respondents who use the tool
 
Figure 7. Application Servers Current/Future Use: This yellow area shows the current marketshare for each vendor/product listed, by percentage. The blue area shows the net change in marketshare over 1 year, based on the number of respondents who said they would adopt, stay with, or abandon that product line.
 



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