IDC: Hobbyist programmers on the rise

Amateur programmers are becoming increasingly more prevalent in the IT landscape, a new IDC study has found

An increasing amount of programming is being conducted by non-professional programmers, a new IDC study has found.

Of the 18.5 million software developers in the world, about 7.5 million -- roughly 40 percent -- are "hobbyist developers," which is what IDC calls people who write code even though it is not their primary occupation.

"While hobbyist developer populations were not forecast previously at IDC, it is expected that this population has seen a much faster rate of increase over recent years than the population of professional software developers and will likely grow at a faster rate in the future," stated the report, compiled by IDC's program director for software development research, Al Hilwa.

The boom in hobbyist programmers should cheer computer literacy advocates, who have been championing the idea that more of the general population should learn to code, in order to better understand the ways of the computers they rely on so heavily.

A hobbyist developer is, by IDC's definition, someone who spends 10 hours a month or more writing computer or mobile device programs, even though they are not paid primarily to be a programmer. They may program for any one of number of reasons.

They may be writing the programs for fun, or they may be trying to make some extra money -- or even strike it rich -- by developing an app for an app store. They may be citizen programmers assembling programs to help their chosen causes, or contributing to an open source project. Students also fall into the hobbyist category.

Or, they may also sling code for work: think of the system administrator sculpting scripts that automate routine processes, or the manager who builds a simple reporting application using Microsoft Access or a desktop business intelligence platform.

IT companies and other organizations that conduct their business chiefly over the Internet should keep this growing pool of programmers in mind, IDC advised.

"Many companies in tech these days are focused on consumers or citizen developers to customize or play around with their platform on a more casual basis," wrote Hilwa in an email.

Hobbyist programmers can be more up to date on the latest technologies, and may also make for a good source of talent when the market for professional programmers grows competitive, IDC noted.

In fact, countries with strong technology sectors typically have higher concentrations of professional developers in relation to hobbyist developers, because many of the hobbyists get sucked into the industry, IDC found. Those countries with weaker technology sectors tend to have a greater proportion of hobbyists, which can be problematic for those countries in that their hobbyists could turn their talents to nefarious activities, such as writing malware, or leave the countries altogether for work opportunities.

Certainly it is a good time to be a dilettante programmer. Open Web standards and open source software can drive the cost of development down to zero. The Internet hosts an abundance of free documentation and tutorials, such as Stack Overflow and Codecademy.

Also, an increasing number of software programs and services, such as Salesforce.com, can be extended through modules or user-customized additions, easing the need for full-fledged developers to create some new functionality. "The change from code-centric to configuration-centric application development enables some knowledge workers and business analysts to accomplish what once required professional developers," the report noted.

Overall, IDC estimates there are about 29 million people in the world work in IT. In addition to the 18.5 million software developers -- of both the professional and hobbyist varieties -- there are also about 18 million operations and management workers. IDC predicted that jobs for programmers will grow at a faster rate than those for operations and management.

"The ever-increasing pervasiveness of software and its embedding into many new connected devices, also known as the trend toward the Internet of Things (IoT), will stimulate the need and consequent availability of software developers worldwide," the report stated.

IDC is a wholly owned subsidiary of International Data Group, the parent company of IDG News Service.

Joab Jackson covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Joab on Twitter at @Joab_Jackson. Joab's e-mail address is Joab_Jackson@idg.com

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags IDCInternational Data CorporationcareersIT management

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Joab Jackson

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Essentials

Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive

Learn more >

Mobile

Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Exec

Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards 

Learn more >

HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive 

Learn more >

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

GGG Evaluation Team

Michael Hargreaves

Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

HP Spectre

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Lenovo Yoga

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Kathy Cassidy

STYLISTIC Q702

First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni

STYLISTIC Q572

For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?