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Why People Build Web Apps and What it Says About the Demand for Developer Talent

February 13th, 2011 02:00 admin Leave a comment Go to comments

FILM Django hackathonI just came across two anecdotes that tell a story about the state of the developer market.

The first is from Dan Zambonini, who posted a poll on on Hacker News that asks: “Why are you building a web app?”

The second comes from Stephen O’Grady of RedMonk who knows the developer community perhaps well as anyone who I follow.

The Zambonini poll points to the reality and the aspirations of the developer community to create something of their own. O’Grady’s overview includes analysis about the demand for developer talent and how it reflects on the disruptions up and down the stack.

Two insights come from this:

Developers and employers will increasingly seek ways to balance the need for personal fulfillment and technological advancement in the marketplace.

Employers and independent developers need each other but will not find a balance unless the developer can feel some sense of satisfaction about their work and the employer can see some meaningful returns.

The Zambonini Poll

There are four themes that you can gather from the poll:

  • Developers want to create an app of their own to be financially independent.
  • App development is a hobby and helps people keep fresh in their work.
  • It’s not always about passion. It’s also about making a living.
  • The app does not exist and the developer wants to create it.

It’s passion that seems to me the best reason to create apps, if that is truly what you want to do. Tweetdeck founder Iain Dodsworth spent 16 hours a day, seven days a week creating his Twitter app. This weekend it was reported that Tweetdeck is close to selling for a reported $30 million. I hear the same hard work stories from other developers who create apps. Some succeed and others don’t. In both cases, though, there is a certain level of personal commitment.

O’Grady: Observable Fragmentation

The reality for many developers is what’s true for us all. The infrastructure is fragmenting and with its breakup is a wholesale change in the way we treat data and networked devices.


If anything, I didn’t predict this aggressively enough. There is observable fragmentation in virtually every area of infrastructure technology: operating system, database, programming language, development framework, mobile platform, cloud platform, cloud API [coverage]. Even hardware is less straightforward than it once was, with ARM a driver in mobile with larger potential.

All of this has happened before, of course: the Cambrian explosion of diversity we’re currently witnessing is not unprecedented. It is, however, potentially further reaching as the boundaries between consumer and enterprise break down, and distinctions between on premise and network hardware blur.

This is a hit.

Yes, it is a hit. And it impacts everyone. Developers have choices about where to explore. Enterprise product teams may be focused in what type of applications they develop. Calibrate that product focus to particular passions that developers share and there may be a symbiosis that benefits the company and the individual.

For the individuals that choose to embark upon their own app journey? May the road be filled with adventures. The choices are enormous and who knows who you may meet along the way.

Source: Why People Build Web Apps and What it Says About the Demand for Developer Talent

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