We’re excited to share new research conducted by Dimensional Research and sponsored by Sencha, Trends in Web Technologies – A Survey of Development Professionals. Over 1,300 global web technology professionals were surveyed with responsibility for building B2B, B2C and internal applications, across a wide variety of industries and small to large enterprises. Some questions were repeated from our 2016 report, The State of the Modern Web, to analyze trends year-over-year.
Thank you to all who took the time to contribute to this survey – read on to learn more about the trends and challenges in using web technologies today or download the full report.
Web Technologies Remain Critical & Investments are Increasing
From our previous 2016 study, 93% of respondents said that web technologies are critical to their strategy for desktop and mobile. It should come as no surprise that a year later, 94% reported web technologies remain critical to their development process, a subtle increase year-over-year. When asked how the criticality changed from 2016 to present, 74% said that web technologies are more critical, including 44% that summarized this shift as “significantly more critical.” The numbers show that web technology continues to be the backbone of application development for many organizations – and demand is not going away. When asked about investment changes in web technologies for the coming year, 79% of respondents said they expect their investments to increase (up from 76% last year), including 27% who claimed dramatic growth in their investment.
Why Are Web Technologies So Important?
Respondents also shared that the top reason why web technologies continue to be such an important part of their desktop or mobile application strategy, is because web technologies allow developers to support multiple browsers and screen sizes (72%), up slightly from our 2016 study (68%). More and more organizations are under intense pressures to develop high-quality, complex cross-platform web applications faster – 61% reported faster time-to-market as a secondary response for the need for web technologies and 59% reported improved development efficiencies, again mirroring similar responses from last year’s report.
A Look Ahead
In looking ahead to future technology growth and investments, organizations will need to consider what is necessary to make their development teams more efficient, while also improving the customer experience. Respondents rated the following capabilities and offerings at the top of their list for web application development plans:
- Support for modern tooling (e.g. Node, Webpack, etc.) – 36%
- ECMAScript 6 – 35%
- Progressive Web App support – 34%
Mobile is on the Rise, but Desktop Remains Vital
When respondents were asked about the importance of desktop as an application platform, the majority said desktop apps are absolutely essential to their business (79%) – making desktop the top ranked platform in the the category. The second highest is smartphone (41%), followed by tablet (31%). And while the shift toward mobile is subtle, there is clear movement when reviewing the results year-over-year. The number who characterized smartphone apps as absolutely essential increased from 37% to 41% from 2016 to 2017, while the same numbers for tablet apps rose from 29% in 2016 to 31% in 2017. Those who said desktop apps were absolutely essential dropped slightly from 81% in 2016 to 79% in 2017. If your organization is building applications only for desktop or only for mobile today, it may be worth your time to consider building for both desktop and mobile from the beginning to accommodate the growing number of multi-screen user consumers.
Web App Lifespan Increasing
To echo the mindset of building applications for the long haul, this study also showed how important it is for organizations to invest in an application framework that can endure the test of time regarding quality and maintenance. One of the stand-out data points of this survey is that 79% of desktop apps are expected to be in use for three years or more, including more than half of desktop apps (51%) that are expected to be around for more than five years. Mobile follows the same trend with 62% of tablet apps and 59% of smartphone apps expected to have a lifespan of more than three years. We also see an increase in the number of mobile (both smartphone and tablet) apps expected to survive more than five years; both increased by 20% year-over-year. Whether you’re building applications for desktop or mobile or both, you want to make sure you select the right framework early on and consider the ease of maintenance over time.
Legacy Browser Support Decreasing
The ability to easily support new browsers across platforms is essential; applications need to continually work as expected and it’s important for organizations to support and test the right ones. The study shows that Chrome continues to lead the charge with 97% supporting this browser, Firefox follows at 74%, Internet Explorer at 60%, Safari at 47%, MS Edge at 46% and Opera at 13%. Testing and support for legacy Internet Explorer browsers continues to decrease; in fact, from 2016 to 2017, we’re seeing a 12% decline in support of Internet Explorer. Since MS Edge replaced IE as the default web browser on desktops running Windows 10, we expected to see a larger increase for testing and support for MS Edge, but only saw a 5% increase.
Data Visualization Needs Increasing
In our 2016 report, everyone surveyed said they use or plan to use data visualization or analytics capabilities in their applications and 74% said the need for data visualization in web applications was growing. When asked about the need to visualize and analyze data in 2017, a wide majority (78%) said the need is increasing, including 36% that characterized the growth as substantial. This is even higher than the 75% reported in 2016. Respondents also shared that the most common visualization used by web app developers continues to be grids (88%) and charts (76%). Additionally, an increase in the use of more complex data visualization components went up year-over-year, including data-driven documents (D3), up from 26% to 35%, and pivot grids, up from 25% to 33%.
From 2016 to 2017, the data also reveals a shift in business drivers regarding the increase in demand for data visualization. In 2016, the study showed drivers were mostly from back-end issues, such as increased amounts of data, complexity of data and data-focused technology initiatives. In the 2017 study, the demand increase comes from factors that impact end users. The need to present and share data across device types and locations increased to 46% in 2017 from only 35% in 2016. The data suggests that end users are becoming more demanding of their data visualization needs, and development teams will need to be armed with the proper components to deliver to their customers.
Everything You Need to Build Cross-Platform Applications
Sencha remains committed to providing the development community with a first-class web application development platform to easily and quickly design, develop and test your applications. You can read our recent Product Roadmap Update blog post to see what’s coming in 2018 and beyond, or contact us with any questions you might have.