How to Improve DevOps Performance
March 08, 2022

Mason McLead

For the last 10 years, we have seen a growing divide in the world of software development. Technology giants deploy code daily across complex systems managed by tens of thousands of developers. They coordinate hundreds of projects and teams, spread around the world, and across time zones. They enable fast deployments, fast reviews, and fast data. As a result, they consistently deliver value to their customers, set their industry's pace for innovation, and ultimately win in the marketplace. That's the ideal.

Likewise, many companies are falling behind. Engineering teams struggle with roadblocks and bottlenecks during the development process. Taking an idea to production can take months. Often, developers battle distractions — too many meetings, too many interruptions, and too much wait time on processes and systems — all of which impact the first prerequisite for high-performing engineering teams: code time.

Without time to focus and enter a state of flow, developers are limited in their ability to get work done. The best engineering organizations defend and prioritize code time by limiting meetings, reducing distractions, and removing constraints with the right tools and automations.

Through our interaction with development teams, we created The Code Time Report that explores data from our global community of more than 250,000 developers and uncovers how much time developers have available to code during the workday.

Based on our data, developers only code 52 minutes per day — about 4 hours and 21 minutes during a normal work week from Monday to Friday.

We define code time as time spent actively writing or editing code in an editor or Integrated Development Environment (IDE), which we use as an indicator to track the amount of focused, uninterrupted time developers have available to code during the workday.

Based on our estimates, developers spend an additional 41 minutes per day on other types of work in their editors, such as reading code, reviewing pull requests, and browsing documentation.

Further findings include:

Emerging economies code more than average

Among the world's largest advanced economies, known collectively as the G7, developers in Italy, France, and Japan spend the most time per day actively coding. In an analysis of ten countries categorized as emerging markets by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), we found that developers in Thailand, Turkey, and Brazil spend the most time coding. Interestingly, developers in the top emerging markets code more than the global median, which may indicate that software engineering is rapidly increasing in popularity in those countries.

Coding peaks on Wednesdays

Developers code a median of 55 minutes on Wednesdays, the most popular day for coding, and that number falls to 46 minutes on Friday, which is the least popular workday for coding. Many companies have No Meeting Wednesdays, which may be an explanation for this trend.

Most developers code on weekends

Interestingly, most developers continue coding through the weekend — a median of about 18 minutes per day on Saturday and Sunday, which may indicate that developers are taking advantage of uninterrupted time to code.

Few developers code more than 2 hours per day

Our data reveals that only about 10% of developers spend more than 2 hours per day coding, including weekends. About 40% of developers spend more than 1 hour per day coding. This finding stands in contrast to previous surveys–which are often prone to respondent biases–indicating that developers spend 2+ hours per day coding.

Late afternoon is the most popular time to code

Our analysis revealed that about 25% of all coding occurs between 2 pm and 5 pm, indicating that developers may be busier with meetings and other work during the morning. In fact, coding tends to start later in the day and continue after traditional work hours. Just 10% of coding occurs between 9 am and 11 am, while 12% of coding happens after work hours between 5 pm and 7 pm.

Mornings can be an important time for focused and uninterrupted coding. If more companies protected mornings, we might see an increase in the global average code time per day.

Top coding languages

We looked at the top 10 most popular languages according to the 2021 Stack Overflow Survey and ranked them by median minutes coded per day. Developers using TypeScript, a fast-growing syntactical superset of JavaScript designed and maintained by Microsoft, spend the most time coding per day, on average. Since its launch in 2012, TypeScript has seen widespread adoption across tech companies, including Slack, Airbnb, Netflix, and Shopify. After TypeScript, Dart and PHP rank second and third, respectively.
TypeScript and Dart, which are both strongly-typed languages, may rank at the top because they require developers to spend more time implementing stricter variable rules upfront.

If developers are spending less than an hour per day coding at work, the logical question is where is the rest of their time going? 

A developer's day is spread across many other activities, such as planning, documentation, meetings, and collaboration.

But our findings point to a more alarming hypothesis: that most companies are ineffectively deploying their development teams, bogging down engineers with distractions, disruptions, and meetings as well as system inefficiencies, such as slow reviews, slow builds, and bad tools.

We believe engineering friction is the greatest threat to development success, productivity, and flow. While popular perception holds that elite engineering performance belongs only to tech titans, we believe most enterprises can begin to close the widening gap in software development by measuring and improving their DevOps performance.

Getting better visibility into the development lifecycle — by connecting tools across the development stack — and understanding where the biggest bottlenecks occur — is the most crucial step in improving software delivery. Once teams measure their system-level DevOps metrics, they can better understand how work flows through the value stream and uncover what's blocking developers, like meetings and inefficient review processes.

Mason McLead is CTO of Software
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