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Results from the Second 2004 ONJava Reader Survey Results from the Second 2004 ONJava Reader Survey

by Chris Adamson

The results are in from our second reader survey conducted at the end of 2004. We intend to run these now and then to ask you who you are and what you would like to see from ONJava. With the release of J2SE 5.0 and the increasing popularity of various frameworks and tools, we asked what you are using and what you would like to see covered on ONJava. Here's a snapshot of what the 660 respondents told us.

The Responders

Three quarters of those surveyed visit our site at least once a week. About a quarter of our audience is pretty new at professional Java, while more than a quarter has been going it for more than six years. This helps give us an idea of what kind of expertise level we should target. It seems that we need to strive for a mix, as some of our audience could use some more beginner/intermediate-level material, while our more advanced readers may know a lot of that material already. For those new to Java, we will be rerunning some of the enduring articles from our archives now and then.

Our biggest percentage of readers, 32 percent, report having six to nine years of professional software experience, with 26 percent saying they have three to five years, 22 percent saying they have 10 to 19 years, and the rest reporting 20 or more years, less than two years, no professional experience, or no experience at all (in that order). This is almost identical to the previous survey, except that the "less than two years" response is much lower, though those readers don't now show up as "three to five"-year developers; instead, some are accounted for as "less than two years" and "no professional experience" readers. Similarly, when asked, "How many years of professional Java experience do you have?" "three to five years" was the most popular response at 46 percent, followed by "six to eight years" at 27 percent, "three to five years" at 22 percent, and "no professional experience" at 22 percent.


With Java being successful all over the world, we asked readers to indicate their location. The USA was tops with 43 percent, followed by Europe with 35 percent, Canada with six percent, Asia with five percent, and India with four percent. In a write-in section, we got a lot responses from Australia, New Zealand, and the Middle East.

Interestingly, when asked what size company you work for, most of you said "one to 50 people" at 35 percent. The next post popular reply was "2,500+" at 22 percent, followed by "101 to 500" at 16 percent. Choice of industry was somewhat less surprising--25 percent of you said you worked in the "computer software" industry. Coming in at #2 and #3 were "consulting/system integration" and "financial," at 15 percent and 10 percent each. Still, there was a great variety on this question--of the 18 replies, all but two (agriculture and transportation) got a result greater than zero percent, and even those got a few votes. Perhaps this is a nice reminder of Java's flexibility; that it's so applicable to so many fields.

What You Use

Much of our survey is about what kinds of tools, APIs, etc., you use, so we can target these topics for coverage in the future. This time, we didn't require a product to just fit in one category--if JBoss can be used as a servlet container, a J2EE container, and a web server, why not list it as all three? So you may see some major players showing up in multiple categories this time.

First, we asked what languages and technologies you work with. Unsurprisingly, "Java" was the big winner, with 98 percent saying they used it. Next most popular was SQL (79 percent), followed by XML (78 percent). After this, the only response that was over 40 percent was "Oracle."

Next we asked about operating systems. Asked what OS you develop on, you overwhelmingly said "Windows" (87 percent), followed by "Linux" (56 percent), "Solaris" (19 percent), and "Mac OS X" (15 percent). But as for what you deploy to, only 69 percent of you said "Windows," while 65 percent of you said "Linux," 36 percent of you said "Solaris," and 12 percent of you said "Mac OS X." With the *nixes picking up support on the deployment side, I'm going to guess that most of you are developing web apps that get deployed to the industrial-strength *nix-like OSes (although that doesn't account for Mac OS X losing support on the deployment side).

Asked about IDEs, Eclipse has continued to pick up support, and is now used by 71 percent of ONJava readers. The next most popular is no IDE at all ("emacs, vi, notepad") at 27 percent. After this came NetBeans at 19 percent, followed by IntelliJ at 16 percent, and then a number of IDEs coming in between five and 15 percent. Memo to Sun: only one percent (9 out of 459) of our readers reported using "Java Studio."

As for non-IDE tools, Ant continues to rule supreme--it's used by 94 percent of our readers, just like in our last survey. The message about test-driven development has apparently gotten through, with 75 percent of readers saying they use it. After that, it's a steep drop to the next most popular tool, OptimizeIt, at 26 percent.

Apache contributes another dominant application in response to the "What web/application server do you use most frequently?" question. Of course, the winner in that category is "Apache/Tomcat," which 85 percent of our readers say they use. Way, way back were JBoss at 29 percent, WebLogic at 20 percent, and WebSphere at 18 percent.

JBoss does pick up the award for our readers' favorite J2EE platform, used by a reported 32 percent of readers. The next closest was WebSphere (18 percent), and then WebLogic (18 percent), and a collection of "other" responses (10 percent, which included the responses "none," "Orion," and, interestingly, a couple of "EJBs are evil" responses).

The Open Questions

Several of our questions asked for short open answers, and this presented the most direct way to provide your feedback to the editors and help guide the future direction of the site.

We received 455 responses to the question, "If you were to predict, what Java technology will make it big in the next 12 months?" The responses were all over the place. (Java3D? POJO? Really?) A few received so many responses they were worth tallying up:

  • JSF:33 responses
  • Spring: 30 responses
  • J2ME: 26 responses
  • Hibernate: 24 responses
  • Groovy: Seven responses

Next was our question about what Java book you'd like to see O'Reilly publish next. I'd like you credit so many of you for keeping up with our new book series--there were multiple requests for Head First J2ME, and "more Head First anything;" "Java 1.5 in a Nutshell," and "more of the developer's notebooks, those are great." As for specific topics, there were many requests for Spring, books on desktop development (Swing and SWT), games (JOGL), media (Java Media Framework and QuickTime for Java), Maven, and AOP. There were a few replies where you might want to take your ideas to our book editors to describe them further, such as "Covert Java" and "Betterer, Fasterer, Lighterer Java."

As for what topics you'd like to see receive more coverage on ONJava, it seems difficult to give the subject sufficient coverage without simply dumping all of the replies to HTML. There were that many of them, with responses so diverse that's it daunting to find more than a few duplicates. Some the ones that caught my eye included:

  • Alternative, alternative presentation technologies like Flex/Flash/Lazlo/XUL
  • Practical integration of different frameworks (e.g., AppFuse) and the meta-frameworks (e.g., Keel). Also more on Java security and AOP.
  • Remoting: RMI, SOAP, Burlap, XML over HTTP, serialization over HTTP, etc.
  • How to add tests to legacy systems, refactoring, test driven development, how to make development simpler.
  • I'd like to see two things: 1. Articles about how to design applications. For example, about the architecture of a server-client standalone application, rather than about how to use the Socket class. 2. An overview or set of articles about writing for handhelds and cellphones.
  • Anti-patterns
  • Java games articles.
  • GUI guidelines, usability, graphic design.
  • Tapestry, AOP, Groovy, OR/M tools.

We asked what kinds of software programs were you planning on buying in the next 12 months. At least half you said "none," and of the positive responses, most were code editors, modeling and optimization tools, app servers, obfuscators, databases, or non-Java related software like Mac OS X, Linux, Photoshop, or games. As for new hardware purchases, there was a wide range of Linux servers, Windows desktops and laptops, and Mac OS X desktops and laptops.

Anything Else?

The poll always ends with an open reply question, asking "Is there anything else you'd like to tell us?" 192 took us up on this offer, with replies from the typical "keep it up" to some very specific suggestions for what we might be doing better. Here's a selection of that feedback:

  • The most interesting Java problems are not related to web deployment or J2EE.
  • Too many "Hello World" examples. There is a lot of explanation about how powerful something is, but then the example is like--well, I can do that much simpler. Don't see the power in your current examples.
  • Would like to see some more coverage of the non-Apache OS projects like Webworm, Jonahs, etc.
  • The only complaint I have is that sometimes the articles feel rushed. That is, they give a basic overview, but aren't too detailed on the subjects they touch. Sometimes, it's OK to spend a bit of time concentrating on a highly detailed example.
  • I would love to contribute--send e-mail to xxxxx@xxxxxxx.xxx

We will make our "how to submit an article" material more publicly visible. In the mean time, feel free to email me at We're also working on putting together an up-to-date list of topics for which we're soliciting articles.

And, as always, thanks for reading ONJava.

Editor's Note: Congratulations to the winners of the survey book giveaway:

  • Talha Syed
  • Lalitha Chandran
  • Marc Thomson
  • Jan Sibil
  • A fifth winner has not yet responded, so we don't know his or her name

Chris Adamson is an author, editor, and developer specializing in iPhone and Mac.

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