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Our latest reader survey shows an increase in VB.NET development, though VB 6 remains the language of choice for readers. Results also indicate an uptick in Web development.

Application development for .NET manages to move both at Mach 3 and at a snail's pace simultaneously. On one hand, third-party and open-source tools emerge constantly, promising less code, better productivity and snazzier user experience. On one hand, updates to Visual Studio, Visual Basic, C# and Windows take a couple years to complete and a few more to digest.

Nowadays, with sample downloads and blogs, gaining perspective on new products is simple -- save it to your machine, tinker with it and see what the blogoshpere has to say about it.

As an individual developer, it can be difficult to capture larger trends. The folks in your IT department use VB 6, but what about the developers in the office park across town, or across the country? Do other developers also have to architect, test, deploy and maintain there applications, or is it just you?

Every year conducts a reader survey that attempts to answer questions like those. It helps us determine who our readers are, and it helps our readers see what their peers are up to.

Our latest survey, which we conducted in June and early July, includes data from 183 professional developers. We kept most of the questions the same from 2005 to 2006, to see if anything had changed in the last 12 months. Here is a sampling of what we found.

  • Programming language usage: More than 62% of this year's respondents are using VB.NET, compared with 53% in last year's survey. This indicates that Microsoft continues to make progress in moving VB users into the .NET Framework. More developers are using C# as well -- 34% in this year's survey compared to 30% in 2005.
    More on VB 6 and VB.NET

    See the results of our 2005 reader survey

    Stand up if you love VB!

    Tech Ed series: Visual Basic past, present and future

    However, Visual Basic 6 remains the language of choice, with 68% of this year's respondents indicating that they code in VB 6. As for the programming language that developers mainly use, VB 6 came in first this year, followed by VB.NET and C#.
  • Job description and role: As was the case with last year's survey, half of this year's respondents listed their job title as programmer. We did see a change, in the way that readers characterize themselves. Both in 2005 and in 2006, more than 40% of readers called themselves application developers and about 25% said they were Windows developers. This year, though, nearly 16% called themselves Web developers, compared with less than 8% last year. Given the recent emergence of technology such as Atlas and the ease of combining apps through mash-ups, this shift makes sense, though there may be other causes as well.
  • Team size and tasks performed: A vast majority of our readers, more than 80%, work on teams of 10 or fewer developers. Thus, not surprisingly, they find themselves involved in many phases of application development -- 71% in architecture, 74% in requirement gathering, 91% in coding, 80% in testing, 71% in deployment and 75% in maintenance. To answer one question posed earlier, no, it is not just you.
  • As is the case with most surveys, this data answers a few questions but prompts many others. Why does VB 6 remain the preferred language of Microsoft developers? Will VBers eventually move to VB.NET, to C# or onto a language like Ruby? Why the uptick in Web development? Why are developers wearing so many different hats?

    As the summer progresses, will try to answer those questions by talking to the very people who participated in our survey. If you would like to share your own thoughts on the state of VB and .NET development, send me an e-mail and I will gladly chat with you.

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