Tuesday, August 14, 2007

6th Sense Analytics gathers unique view into aggregate developer behaviors, preferences

I wrote about 6th Sense Analytics as the company was emerging, and wondered how powerful the developer productivity measurement tools they offer would be if the data could be aggregated -- and larger use trends could be uncovered.

Well, some of the first community insights have arrived ... they are quite interesting.

Some of the big takeaways for me:
  • No need to wonder about how popular Eclipse IDEs are, they are clearly dominant, with a substantial lead over Visual Studio tools in terms of time used.
  • Firefox has catapulted as a browser to develop with, and while still behind Internet Explorer is nonetheless a substantial player, and is by no means a niche Web client for developers.
  • General development language use is dominated by Java and "other," while .NET lags significantly.
  • When are developers in "the flow time," when are they heads-down productive on coding? By day it's -- Sunday and Saturday (no meetings!) ... and it's not Mondays and Fridays (meetings?).
These findings are not scientific and may very well represent a bias toward the types of companies and regions that dominate the current sampling. For example, 60 percent of the developers tracked are outside of the U.S., mostly in Southeast Asia and East/Central Europe and therefore more indicative of outsourcing organizations and offshore development ISVs and contractors. Yet these would be the very organizations where productivity is paramount, and where costs must be kept low and developers kept busy.

And these are not survey results. They are the use data aggregated from some 500 active developers over past several weeks, and therefore make a better reference point than "voluntary" surveys. These are actual observations are on what the developers actually did -- not what they said they did, or tried to remember doing (if they decided to participate at all). So the results are empirical for the sample, even if the sample itself may not yet offer general representation.

Over time, and with more results from the same organizations to compare and contrast, the observations of developer behaviors, habits and preferences will be even more valuable, more representative.

6th Sense Analytics has opted to make some of their data available to an open community, and yet even more data open to subscribers and users of its products that gather visibility into globally distributed software development activities. Subscribers can gain breakdowns on specific use of tools, technologies, types of development effort and "flow," as well as work-types of activities. Custom queries are also available, so that development managers can distinctly determine what works and what does not.

One of the lessons learned from the initial data, and not too surprisingly, is that 80 percent of the work is actually done by 20 percent of the people. Some trends never change.

Disclosure: 6th Sense Analytics has been a sponsor of BriefingsDirect podcasts.