Thursday, March 01, 2007

TheServerSide asks the right questions

Some IDE surveys are just simple popularity contests. Not this one. This survey from, has much smarter questions, and I'm really looking forward to the results!

For instance, instead of just asking which IDE you use, it splits it up into which IDE the organization uses as standard, and which IDE you personally use.

Some organizations impose a particular IDE on all the developers because of an 'organizational standard'. Such standards might be good for something like databases and servers, but I hardly think it makes sense to force a developer to use an IDE that he or she is not productive in. Developer productivity often trumps the relatively small cost-savings of standardization. If you save $1,000 a month by standardizing, but the IDE you choose makes your 10 programmers even 5% less productive, you're actually losing a big chunk of money there, since the lost productivity is closer to $5,000 per month.

Also, professional programmers like being productive and, given the choice, most of them would choose the one that makes them more productive rather than being forced to use an organizational standard. One of the interesting questions in the survey is "If you do not directly choose your IDE, which one would you prefer to use?" I definitely want to see the results there! I expect to see a lot of cases of organizations standardizing on a particular IDE, but some of their developers wishing they could use a different IDE. IDE choice is often a personal thing, and hopefully this survey will help people realize that.

Of course, the questions aren't perfect, although they are definitely a step in the right direction. One of the questions asks, "Which three features do you value most in an IDE?" While this is a good start, it completely ignores that things like 'productivity' and 'usability' are not features, but they can easily be the most important thing people value in an IDE. It is very common to hear fans of IntelliJ IDEA say things like, "There's no particular feature I can point to, it's just that all the features just seem to work better." I hope to see surveys in the future that tackle the importance of intangibles like usability, intelligence, and productivity.

Check out the survey here.


Anonymous Dionysis said...

Some feedback from your presentation in Athens. I realy enjoyed it :-)

March 12, 2007 12:13 PM  
Blogger Rob Harwood said...

Thanks for the info! Hehe, I've gotten 'Hardwood' a lot, but never 'Rod Hardwood'. That's pretty funny! :-P

March 13, 2007 3:43 PM  

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