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Survey Shows Most Mobile Development Still Done with Native Tools

Despite the popularity of cross-platform development solutions, a new survey from JetBrains shows native tools still rule in the mobile space.

The survey, "Developer Ecosystem Survey 2019," contains data garnered from nearly 7,000 developers in 17 countries. JetBrains, a development tools specialist known for its "intelligent" offerings such as IntelliJ IDEA, last week shared some of its preliminary data in advance of complete results, including raw data, to be published later.

Included in the highlights shared last week are several insights into mobile development, including the preference for native tooling.

"Two thirds of mobile developers use native tools to develop for mobile OS," the report states. "Every other developer uses cross-platform technologies or frameworks."

Among cross-platform mobile frameworks that are in use, Flutter -- which recently expanded beyond the mobile arena -- is mounting a challenge to the popular React Native tooling (though the latter espouses a "learn once, write anywhere" approach that's somewhat different from a true, cross-platform "write once, run anywhere" approach).

That breakdown is shown in this graphic:

Cross-Platform Mobile Favorites
[Click on image for larger view.] Cross-Platform Mobile Favorites (source: JetBrains)

Another highlight shows most mobile developers targeting Android, with the complete breakdown for the question "For which mobile operating systems do you develop?" being:

  • Android -- 83 percent of respondents
  • iOS -- 59 percent
  • Other -- 3 percent

The survey report also sheds light on the growing popularity of Kotlin, which Google last month deemed the No. 1 option for Android development, replacing Java as the pre-eminent choice for the popular OS.

"71 percent of Kotlin developers use Kotlin for work, mainly for new projects (96 percent), but more than a third are also migrating their existing projects to it," JetBrains said in a June 11 blog post.

Several other highlights mentioned in the post related to programming language usage include:

  • Python is the most studied language in 2019.
  • 44 percent of JavaScript developers use TypeScript regularly. In total, a quarter of all developers are using it in 2019, compared to 17 percent last year.
  • The use of containerized environments by PHP developers is growing steadily by 12 percent per year.
  • 73 percent of Rust devs use a Unix/Linux development environment, though Linux is not a primary environment for most of them.
  • Go Modules appeared just recently, but already 40 percent of Go developers use it and 17 percent want to migrate to it.

The survey used a variety of channels to gather the data, with the complete methodology available here.

About the Author

David Ramel is the editor of Visual Studio Magazine.

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