Annual Java Developer Survey Focuses on Performance Testing

RebelLabs, the research and content arm of Java toolmaker ZeroTurnaround, has published the findings of its annual Java developer survey ("Developer Productivity Report 2015: Java Performance Survey Results"). The latest survey focused on how performance testing is done by organizations.

What emerged this year was something of a portrait of a high-performing software organization, explained the report's author, Simon Maple, developer advocate at ZeroTurnaround. Teams with the most satisfied end-users are smaller (the best performing teams with the fewest issues have 30 percent fewer team members), test earlier (happy teams with satisfied users are 36 percent more likely to run performance testing while they code), and are generally more efficient and proactive (they're 38 percent faster at diagnosing, fixing and testing performance issues; almost 40 percent more likely to profile on a daily or weekly basis; and are 20 percent less likely to test reactively when issues arise.)

RebelLabs, which publishes free, vendor-neutral technical resources, received responses from 1,500 software developers, architects and managers for this year's survey. Respondents reported working in a range of industries, in companies of varying sizes, and from many geographic regions, the company said. Most of the respondents were developers working on Web applications (70 percent). Developers working on desktop apps constituted 11 percent of respondents, followed by batch (6 percent), other (9 percent) and mobile (4 percent).

The most common causes of performance issues cited by respondents were inefficient application code and slow (and too many) database queries. Almost half the teams surveyed use multiple tools when testing, the report found, with 20 percent reporting that they write their own in-house tooling to run performance testing. More than 75 percent of respondents said that these performance issues directly impacted the end-user experience and could lead to poor service levels, customer satisfaction and loss of sales.

Maple, who is also a Java Champion and vJUG leader, said the focus of this year's survey was mean to provide a better understanding of the trends, best practices and challenges impacting Java development and enterprise teams. "To be honest, we got interested because of our own lightweight Java profiler, XRebel, which is not much more than a year old," Maple said.

ZeroTurnaround released XRebel 2.0 in April with extensive usability improvements specifically aimed at users profiling large enterprise Java applications.

One result from the survey that did surprise Maple: More than 40 percent of respondents reported engaging in performance profiling only when problems arose. "I was rather shocked to learn that so many people had such a reactive approach," he said.

Tartu, Estonia-based ZeroTurnaround is probably best known for its JRebel plugin, which integrates with the Java Virtual Machine (JVM) with app servers on the class loader level, allowing developers to make on-the-fly code changes in Java class files.

The colorful, 60-page report can be downloaded for free from the RebelLabs Web site.

About the Author

John K. Waters is the editor in chief of a number of sites, with a focus on high-end development, AI and future tech. He's been writing about cutting-edge technologies and culture of Silicon Valley for more than two decades, and he's written more than a dozen books. He also co-scripted the documentary film Silicon Valley: A 100 Year Renaissance, which aired on PBS.  He can be reached at [email protected].