Open Source Up! Open Source Down!

There are two interestingly sorta-contradictory market research reports out. First this one:

PHP, Perl and Python Development Drops Off In EMEA, New Evans Data Survey

SANTA CRUZ, CA, August 3, 2005 – 
Researchers at Evans Data Corporation have released the Spring 2005 Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) Development Survey and found double digit drop-offs in developers using PHP, Perl and Python for development.

The number of developers using PHP for development dropped by more than 25% in the last year and the number of developers indicating they would not evaluate or use PHP for future development projects grew by almost 40% in the same time period. Perl usage in EMEA has dropped by more than 20% and those developers with no intentions to evaluate or use Perl grew by 20%. Python usage also saw a 25% reduction in current usage and developers without any intention to use or evaluate Python grew by 17% in the last year.

“PHP, Perl and Python use on a global basis peaked one to two years ago and has started to decline based on a number of factors. This decline is more exaggerated in EMEA and APAC than in North America,” said John Andrews, Evans Data’s Chief Operating Officer. “One of the key factors to this loss of developer mindshare has been the inability of these languages to penetrate the enterprise space.” [Emphasis added]

And there is this release:

Almost Half Of APAC Developers Plan To Increase Use Of Open Source, New Evans Data Survey

SANTA CRUZ, CA, July 25, 2005 – 
Evans Data’s new Spring 2005 Asia Pacific Development Survey has found that 47% of APAC developers are increasing their adoption of open source in the next year. Only 25% of developers in North America expect to increase their use of open source next year. Only 4% of the APAC developers expect to decrease the use of open source in the next twelve months.

Granted, we are talking about different regions, but the trend appears to hold (more or less) across geographies. So how are we to reconcile the two reports? Easy, at least superficially. People want to use open source components, but they don’t want to build them. That’s not news for anyone who has spent any time around the community, nor for anyone with a basic knowledge of human psychology.

Fair enough, but while Perl/Python usage may be declining, it is interesting to mull on why. After all, no-one is suggesting that the open source community is shrinking, are they? And if it’s fairly stable, shouldn’t the Perl/Python side of things be more or less stay the same? I’ve seen Tim O’Reilly’s talk on book sales as leading indicators — and he can correct me if I’m wrong — but I seem to recall that ETech he said that things were more or less firming again in the scripting languages book market.

Anyway, food for open source thought.


  1. Michael Robinson says:

    “One of the key factors to this loss of developer mindshare has been the inability of these languages to penetrate the enterprise space.”
    Basically what that says is that Java is opening up a significant lead in the quality of development tools, application frameworks, and support libraries.
    It has nothing to do with Open Source down and everything to do with Java up.
    JBoss, Tomcat, Spring, Eclipse, etc. That’s where all those erstwhile Python programmers are going.