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Stack Overflow: Cross-Platform Mobile Tech 'Most Dreaded'

Stack Overflow's huge survey polling more than 64,000 developers was just published, providing more insights into my favorite category: the "most dreaded" programming languages, frameworks, databases and other technologies.

In listing the "most dreaded" technologies, Stack Overflow Developer Survey Results 2017 presents the "percent of developers who are developing with the language or technology but have not expressed interest in continuing to do so."

I like that section -- out of dozens -- because I think developers are likely to be more responsive and honest about such things, much like people in general are more wont to comment on negative aspects of things rather than positive, a phenomenon well-known to journalists.

So, in conjunction with the related "most loved" and "most wanted" categories, the "most dreaded" classification provides much thought for developers wondering what tools to use or what direction to take their careers.

Right off the bat, I noticed cross-platform mobile technologies aren't viewed favorably in the category of "Most Loved, Dreaded, and Wanted Frameworks, Libraries and Other Technologies." In fact, Cordova (61.2 percent) and Xamarin (51.3 percent) are No. 1 and No. 2 in that category.

Most Loved, Dreaded, and Wanted Frameworks, Libraries and Other Technologies
[Click on image for larger view.] Most Dreaded Frameworks, Libraries and Other Technologies (source: Stack Overflow)

Apache Cordova tooling lets developers create cross-platform mobile apps using one codebase written with HTML, CSS and JavaScript Web technologies. Cordova is the open source counterpart to the proprietary PhoneGap offering from Adobe Systems. Cordova apps are implemented as a browser-based WebView within native mobile platforms.

Xamarin, on the other hand, is the C#-based project acquired by Microsoft and baked into the Visual Studio IDE. It produces actual native apps that share much of the same code.

In this age of high demand for mobile developers and growing mobile-first enterprise initiatives, I was surprised to see these two technologies being so dreaded. They fare quite well in various rankings of such tools, such as one by BusinessofApps that lists Xamarin and PhoneGap as the top two offerings, as does a similar ranking by Rapidsoft (lumping Cordova and PhoneGap together).

With these two technologies being so highly dreaded, the future looks bright for alternative cross-platform mobile approaches, including JavaScript-based newcomers such as React Native and NativeScript.

Meanwhile, here's a look at the top three "most dreaded" offerings in all categories:

  • Languages: Visual Basic 6, VBA, CoffeScript.
  • Frameworks, Libraries and Other Technologies: Cordova, Xamarin, Hadoop.
  • Databases: Oracle, SQLite, MySQL.
  • Platforms: SharePoint, Salesforce, WordPress.

Conversely, here are the "most loved" categories:

  • Languages: Rust, Smalltalk, TypeScript.
  • Frameworks, Libraries and Other Technologies: React, Node.js, .NET Core.
  • Databases: Redis, PosgreSQL, MongoDB.
  • Platforms: Linux Desktop, Serverless, Amazon Web Services (AWS).

And here are the "most wanted" (developers who are not developing with the language or technology but have expressed interest in developing with it):

  • Languages: Python, JavaScript, Go.
  • Frameworks, Libraries and Other Technologies: Node.js, AngularJS, React.
  • Databases: MongoDB, PosgreSQL, Redis.
  • Platforms: Android, AWS, Raspberry Pi.

You can read more about the exhaustively comprehensive survey in this companion news article.

Any ideas on why Cordova and Xamarin are so dreaded? Share your thoughts here or drop me a line.

Posted by David Ramel on March 22, 2017