Subject: Re: Why Open Source Sucks for the Consumer
From: Frank Hecker <>
Date: Wed, 30 Aug 2000 23:40:15 -0400 wrote:
> I have had this conversation a few times recently, with people from a
> number of backgrounds.  Is Java really taking the lead?

At this point I'm probably in danger of looking like a shill for IDC,
but they also have a report that addresses this issue: "The 1999 IDC
Worldwide Professional Developer Model", IDC Report #W21268, December
1999. This report also IMO illustrates the potential flaws in such

According to the IDC report, there are almost 2 million Java developers
currently; this compares to about 4 million C/C++ developers, and about
7.5 million Visual Basic developers, out of a total developer population
of about 14 million. However the growth rate for the number of Java
developers is estimated at about four times that for C/C++ developers,
while the growth in VB developers is almost flat.

Now the interesting thing is that the IDC report has no data on Perl or
JavaScript; in fact, Perl is not even mentioned in the report. (Ditto
for Python.) Aparently IDC estimates the number of "developer seats"
based on the number of "packaged software licenses"; hence I suspect
that the report severely undercounts developers using languages like
Perl that are primarily supported by free software products.

As for JavaScript, it's apparently lumped in with HTML and is not
separately counted; according to IDC there about 6 million HTML
developers, but I suspect that many of them are not using JavaScript in
any but a fairly trivial sense.

So the sales of language-related books may be a better measure of
language popularity, especially for Perl and JavaScript. However even
here I'd take these figures with a grain of salt since I suspect that
book sales, at least measured at a particular point in time, are a
better measure of relative growth rates in developer populations than
they are of the absolute sizes of those populations. For example,
according to IDC the number of Java developers won't equal the number of
C/C++ developers until several years from now; however I wouldn't be
surprised if many more Java books than C/C++ books are being sold right
now, because the growth rate in the number of Java developers is much

Frank Hecker            work:        home: