Geospatial Developer Survey Analysis I


It’s really interesting to know the primary results from the survey (30 questions) conducted by Dave from Geospatial Developers worldwide.  Prime objective of this survey is knowing more about how other people doing GIS/Geospatial development work. 320 people in Geospatial Industry have participated in this survey.


First I thank Dave for conducting such survey; otherwise it may not be easy to get these information. Many websites and popular magazines in Geospatial Industry have published some statistics using strange mathematical principles. Those surveys are usually biased and just to promote their product or for other own reasons.  But I truly believe that Survey conducted by Dave will give true picture in accepting terms.  Results for the some of the questions are published in his blog with charts. Here is link to know full details. I am going to analyze some of the findings from his survey results.


1.      Who are you:


The MUST question in any survey. This helps to categories the responses based on their profession/role. Though people may designate as Analyst/Developer, but we may often need to switch the roles depending on the requirement (day2day basis) or forced by the organization.  Here are the results


  • Professional GIS Software Developer:   30.9 %
  • GIS Analyst/Coder:                           29.7 %
  • Geospatial Software Engineer:            23.1%
  • Software Architect:                         10.3%
  • GIS Analyst forced to write code:       5.9%


Theoretically, the difference between Software Engineer and Developer is: software engineers apply computer science and mathematical principles to design and develop software. Software developers simply develop software, i.e. carry out programming tasks. So, results indicate that geospatial industry has more of developers than Engineers. Here, I always have classic dilemma similar to lover-friendship, whether GIS has to be viewed as Science or Technology. 


2.                  Use of ESRI products


  • Using pure ESRI suite of products:   40.6%
  • Non ESRI users:                           12.2%
  • 25% using ESRI products :             9.7%
  • 50 % using ESRI products:             11.3%
  • 75% using ESRI products:              26.3%


Predominately Geospatial market is dominated by ESRI products. It would be wise to know the level of usage. Some interesting results are brought out by this question. When I was in college where my interest in GIS domain grew (i.e. 1998-2002) at that time ESRI products found everywhere; ArcView 3.0, 3.1, 3.1a etc are floating in market. During my college days ESRI has been viewed as a research institute than product Development Company. This clearly shows that Open source technologies (GeoServer, GeoTools etc) and other products (Google) occupying considerable share. Major shift is being witnessed in the Geospatial Industry.  But time will decide the life of Open Source technologies on any industry.


3. Who do you develop for?


Almost 50-50 split on internal vs. external clients.  From survey results we learnt that most of the companies’ works for external clients (55.3%), who (Government or private) are those clients is important question. Mostly GIS used by Government organizations and others who work in non-GIS.  For self consumption like Military and other research institutes work for themselves (36.6%) and rest others. We can still explore this once after Dave publishes further category wise details on this.


3.      Primary Development language:


  • Microsoft Technologies :                                   61.2%
  • Java :                                                           11%
  • Python :                                                        12%
  • Others (VB6,VBA, C/C++,PHP, Ruby, Perl etc) :     16%


Conclusion, newbie can choose .NET languages for GIS development. I still support Java :)-


5.  Coding standards and Life Cycle:


I completely agree with Dave’s observation.  I feel most of GIS companies may fall in informal and cowboy code practice category. The professional software companies (uses CMMi level standards) may/may not adopt software Engineering practices on GIS projects. There are no well defined standards for using ArcObjects. We use Dim pFeatureClass as IFeatureclass.  It’s also tough to adopt the S/W Engg practices on GIS projects which undergo rapid changes in the requirements. But the things are changing, Agile practices being used by some companies. The argument is that GIS projects are much smaller and not like Enterprise level projects which run over years where use of practices will be effective is also seems valid. It would be much helpful to know that integration of other systems with GIS is also to be noted. Overall S/W Engg practices lacking in GIS projects.


I will continue analyze the results of survey and post my views and opinions. Anyone can share their views and concerns.

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One Response to “Geospatial Developer Survey Analysis I”

  1. Geospatial Developer Survey Analysis II « Says:

    […] « Geospatial Developer Survey Analysis I […]

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