Home > java > Popularity of UI technology on Devoxx ’12

Popularity of UI technology on Devoxx ’12

The wildly popular Java conference Devoxx was held last week in the beautiful city of Antwerpen.

Besides talks and lab sessions, Devoxx has another interesting concept: a bunch of whiteboards on which people can write stuff and where other people can react to. In this time and age and especially given the target crowd of Devoxx it’s a very low-tech solution, but interesting nevertheless.

The Devoxx organization posted pictures of all those whiteboards on Flickr. My eye felt on the following picture, which asked people to vote on their favorite UI technology:


(Source: Flickr (C) BeJUG)

Counting the votes gives us the following list:

  • JavaScript/HTML 5 (43)
  • Vaadin (22)
  • JSF (17)
  • JSP/SpringMVC/Struts (17)
  • GWT (17)
  • JavaFX (11)
  • Wicket (10)
  • Swing (8)
  • RCP (7)
  • Angular (6)
  • ZK (5)
  • Grails (4)
  • OmniFaces (3)
  • Play! (3)
  • DART (2)
  • Flex (2)
  • Java Applet (1)
  • AWT (1)
  • India (1)
  • REST + JS (1)
  • SAP v15 (1)

We must realize that this kind of voting is of course not very formal. There is no telling whether someone didn’t vote twice or more, or whether some votes weren’t ‘accidentally’ wiped out. That said, assuming people aren’t too malevolent there are a couple of interesting things to note here.

First and foremost is the analysis of the actual question: “I prefer to build business app UI with”. This question is interesting, since it specifically asks what people prefer to use, not what they actually use. It’s a shame perhaps nobody had the wits to pose a followup question on another whiteboard asking what people actually use. Also of interest is that the question does not specifically refer to a segment of technology. I.e. there’s no mention whether the question is about mobile-, desktop-, or web apps. Just that it’s about “business apps” (whatever that means).

Regarding the actual votes it’s remarkable how many votes went to a non-Java solution, given that Devoxx is a Java conference. The majority vote went to JavaScript/HTML 5 with some 43 votes. The figure is even higher considering that the Angular and REST + JS votes are pretty much the same thing. I dare say that REST + JS is the exact same thing even, bringing JavaScript/HTML 5 to 44 votes. My guess is that Angular is a subset of the JavaScript/HTML 5 votes. People voting that one first, and then more specifically use Angular for their JavaScript needs. Another popular subset that wasn’t asked for is probably jQuery.

Next up is the divide between client and web technologies.

RCP, JavaFX, Swing, AWT, Java Applets and Flex are clearly client technologies that can mostly be used for ‘regular’ desktop applications. Of these, JavaFX got the popular vote, but the often criticized Swing is not that far behind. Amazingly, one loner still preferred plain AWT and judging from the handwriting plain Java Applets as well.

Vaadin, JSF, JSP, Spring MVC, Struts, GWT, Wicket, ZK, Grails, OmniFaces, and Play! are all web technologies. GWT code essentially compiles into a (JavaScript) client application, but nevertheless is part of the web framework ecosphere. Of these, Vaadin got the popular vote. Maybe this has something to do with the Vaadin team having a presence on Devoxx (of course it’s perfectly okay for them to vote on their own framework), or maybe the votes are all from non-Vaadin developers. JSF, “JSP/Spring MVC/Struts”, and GWT together share the second place in the web framework ranking with 17 votes each.

A look of disgust will surely come over Matt Raible’s face upon learning that developers in fact DO prefer JSF, despite his personal bias 😉 This time around, Matt can’t ask “but who actually likes JSF” (as opposed to who’s using it), since the question is already about preference.

The entry about “JSP/Spring MVC/Struts” is a little problematic. I’m not sure what the idea here was, but I figure someone thought it was a good idea to suddenly introduce the category of “request-based frameworks”. We thus don’t really know who voted for any of these 3 technologies separately, although I hope most people just ignored Struts here and took the question as asking for using SpringMVC with JSP (as opposed to with Thymeleaf). Furthermore, OmniFaces is a case of its own as well. This is by itself not a UI framework, but a utility library for JSF. In a similar vain, things like PrimeFaces, RichFaces, etc aren’t themselves UI frameworks either, but component libraries/sets for JSF. In a way, DevRates makes the same kind of ‘mistake’.

Remarkable is the low score of the much hyped Scala framework Play!, with only 3 votes (the same amount as utility library OmniFaces). This is extra remarkable since Typesafe was present on Devoxx as well and has undoubtedly been bussy bringing Play! to the attention of the Devoxx attendees. Groovy framework Grails didn’t got so many votes either. Both frameworks typically end a bit higher in polls and surveys.

As mentioned in the beginning of this article the results here should be taken with a grain of salt due to the informal setup. Maybe next year Devoxx can have an electronic voting system, where visitors can add their own questions and answers, but where voting happens with the RFC based wristband?

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