Dr. Dobbs survey finds Subversion #1. But maybe that's too conservative?

January 20, 2010 Jack Repenning

An analysis of several Forrester surveys, by Forrester analyst Jeffrey Hammond, was recently published in Dr.Dobb's online (www.ddj.com). The analysis compares what developers say about their work environments with what their IT managers think is going on. Hammond calls out "seven trends that could have major implications for your IT strategy."

Looks good to me … in fact mostly, it looks like the CollabNet strategy book:

  • Rich Internet Applications, like our Eclipse, Visual Studio, and Windows desktop products
  • Open Source use spreading everywhere
  • Virtualization and Cloud converging into virtual private clouds (among other things), like Lab Management
  • Growing Agile and agile-like development processes

One bit seems odd, though: Forrester finds that

  • More than one-third of developers use Subversion for source code management; that's almost triple the share of the next most-used SCM tool, Microsoft SourceSafe.

via www.ddj.com

I might be reading that wrong, but it appears to say that Subversion is the number one version control system in their survey, by quite a wide margin. Sounds good so far. But it also sounds a bit odd: if number one covers 1/3 of devs, and number two covers 1/9, the series seems to converge with less than half of all developers using any kind of version control at all, and I don't buy that. I don't know any developer anywhere who doesn't use version control, even for personal work. In fact, I was accosted the other day by one of the baristas at my favorite coffee shop, because I was wearing a Subversion T-shirt and he wanted to tell me how to make Subversion better! Surely, that's gotta mean that Subversion use is wider than 33%?

Update: Looks like I was indeed reading that wrong: the author clarifies that the survey asked for "primary SCM." I'd expect a healthy plurality for that question. He also confirms my expectation that most developers use several SCM systems (he cites "2.1 in Europe, 1.8 in the Americas," which gets my nationalistic blood up — come on, North- and South-Americans, we can do better! ;-). Given which, I could well imagine a lot of respondents grumbling "how am I supposed to name a 'primary' in this mish-mash?" and perhaps just checking "None" — not "no SCM," but rather "no way to choose a so-called 'primary'."

Update number two: Author Jeffrey Hammond has blogged the SCM results in much greater depth at the Forrester Blogs. The greater depth is particularly interesting in the area of open-source SCM tools: nearly half of the respondents listed some open-source SCM tool as their "primary SCM tool." There are a lot of areas in our business where people are given to wondering why on earth anyone still "pays full price" for a commercial something-or-other, when there are such good open-source alternatives–but, in a lot of areas the fact is, people do. Looks like SCM is an area where open-source offerings really are winning!

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