The State of Modern Web: Desktop Is Not Dead
December 05, 2016

Art Landro
Sencha

An overwhelming majority of developers (93 percent) indicate that web technologies are critical to their strategy for desktop and mobile, and the demand for new applications and updates to existing applications isn’t going away, according to The State of the Modern Web, survey of more than 1,130 web development professionals at SenchaCon, conducted by Dimensional Research.

More than three-quarters of respondents (76 percent) plan to increase their use of web technology next year.

“Web technology remains a critical part of desktop and mobile development strategies, and the reasons are reflected in the challenges developers continue to face,” said Diane Hagglund, Founder and Principal of Dimensional Research. “Web technologies enable applications to work across all device types, live for long periods of time to maximize investments, meet customer demands and provide a better user experience across the board.”

While web technologies are a vital part of both desktop and mobile strategies, the survey revealed that organizations rely more heavily on desktop applications. The majority of respondents surveyed (80 percent) cited desktop applications will remain absolutely essential in the next 12 months, compared to just 36 percent reporting that mobile applications are absolutely essential in the next year.

Applications are becoming increasingly sophisticated with time, and there is a growing demand to quickly visualize and analyze complex data from within applications. All respondents (100 percent) stated that they use or are planning to use data visualization and analytics capabilities in their applications, including more than half (53 percent) citing sophisticated capabilities such as D3. As companies build and maintain web applications in today’s data-focused and increasingly data-centric world, the need to visualize data is undoubtedly increasing (74 percent reported).

Despite the buzz around smartphones, these research results confirm that the desktop is far from dead. The desktop remains the most critical platform for business applications due in part to the massive explosion in the complexity and volume of data.

And this growth in data is also driving the demand for increased data visualization techniques, such as D3, and analytics within the applications as users seek to make more informed strategic and operational decisions.

Summary of key survey findings:

Web Technologies are Critical to Business

■ 93 percent say web technologies are critical to their strategy for desktop and mobile.

■ 75 percent increased web technology investments last year; 76 percent plan to increase next year.

■ Web technology use is driven primarily by ease of support for multiple browsers and screen sizes (68 percent), development efficiency (62 percent), quality of applications (57 percent), and time to market (54 percent).

Desktop Applications are Far from Obsolete, but Legacy Browsers are Definitely on the Way Out

■ 80 percent say desktop applications are “absolutely essential.”

■ 65 percent only support modern browsers.

Mobile Is Much More Than Smartphones

■ More say tablets are important as an application platform (81 percent) than smartphones (74 percent).

Web Applications Have a Long Life

■ 81 percent of desktop applications are maintained for three years or longer including 48 percent that are maintained for more than 5 years.

■ More than half of mobile apps are maintained for 3 years or more.

■ Need for common use model and coding style (87 percent) and support for new browser versions (69 percent) key to building applications that can be maintained.

Need for Visualization and Analytics of Complex Data is Increasing

■ 74 percent say need for data visualization in web applications is increasing.

■ 100 percent use or plan to use data visualization or analytics capabilities in their applications.

■ There is extensive use of advanced data capabilities including 53 percent who use or plan to use D3 and 50 percent who use or plan to use pivot grids.

Testing Needs to Occur Even Earlier Than Previously Thought

■ 91 percent say frontline developers perform application testing today.

■ 72 percent plan to test web applications even earlier.

Survey Methodology: In October 2016, a total of 1,131 development professionals from a global database were invited to participate in an online survey on the topic of web technologies. Participants represented a wide range of roles, geographies, job level, and development experience.

Art Landro is CEO of Sencha.

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