We received 557 responses in our first ever technology use survey, where we asked Builder.com members to rate their expertise in over 30 different technologies. The list of technologies was rather exhaustive, including everything from Java to DB2. To make the results easier to digest, we divided the technology questions into four rough categories:

  • General Technology Skills covered things not necessarily tied to a particular technology or vendor: e.g., XML, database design, and Web services.
  • Programming Languages included a collection of 13 programming languages and technologies like Java, Visual Basic, and COM.
  • Web Development covered languages associated with Web application development: e.g., ASP, Flash, and PHP.
  • Databases included the results for each of the different database systems we asked you to rate yourself on.

There was some overlap among the categories, but they are each labels of convenience, so it didn’t prove to be a big problem. What I’m trying to say is, please don’t write in asking why Java isn’t under Web development, okay?

For each particular technology area, we asked you to rate your level of expertise in one of five categories: Never Used, Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced, and Guru. To make it easier to talk about the results in this article, I’ve added a sixth category, Experienced, which I’ve defined as the percentage of those respondents who rated themselves Intermediate or better. Now, on to the results.

General Technology Skills: Builder members are database experts
Generally speaking, you’re all database design experts (Figure A), with 83.4 percent of the respondents qualifying as experienced in this area. Initially, we were rather surprised by this, until we stopped and considered how few applications are built without some kind of database-driven storage. When it comes to XML, Builder.com members are pretty capable too, with a shade over 40 percent of respondents having experience with XML in some capacity or other. Web services, the final general skill we asked you about, were a different story: 37.8 percent of you had never used them, while 39.5 percent of you rated yourselves at beginner level. Considering how new this technology is, the results weren’t really surprising.
Figure A
We’re all database design geniuses!

Programming languages: Visual Basic and Java
In the area of programming languages (Figure B), we had some preconceptions based on the e-mail we receive: Most members have experience with Java and Visual Basic, with a smattering of everything else. For the most part, the results agreed with our gut feelings here, but there were fewer Java developers than we expected: 26 percent of you are experienced Java developers, and 35 percent reported having used J2EE.

On the other hand, nearly 58 percent of you qualify as experienced with Visual Basic: 21.5 percent advanced and 6.6 percent guru. Here at Builder.com, we appear to have more VB experts than any other programming language. A healthy minority of respondents were also experienced with C++ (32.3 percent), COM/COM+ (27.8 percent), and UNIX shell scripting (20.3 percent).

Among programming languages, C++ had the largest percentage of beginners (39.1 percent), and the three things most of you said you had never tried were J2ME (90.5 percent), Python (86.2 percent), and CORBA (83.7 percent).
Figure B

A lot of VB experts responded.

Web Development: Members are accomplished page builders
Web development (Figure C) is another area where we had some preconceptions. We are, after all, Builder.com 2.0, so we expected a lot of responding members to be accomplished Web developers, with a wide range of specialization. Not surprisingly, 80.2 percent of you are experienced Web page builders. With 42.5 percent of the votes, ASP comes next in terms of most experienced users. From there, the results run from Perl and JSP both at 17.6 percent, down to ColdFusion at 10.6 percent.
Figure C
Respondents claimed a wide range of Web development skills.

Databases: What are all those experts using?
When it comes to database systems (Figure D), SQL Server leads the pack with just a shade over 50 percent of you qualifying as experienced. Next came Oracle with 30.2 percent, and MySQL with 22.6 percent. The two biggest things you weren’t using: Informix (87.4 percent) and PostGreSQL (86.9 percent).
Figure D
Most of you are SQL Server or Oracle savvy.

More product reviews
In addition to rating their technical skills, we asked our survey-takers to tell us about the kinds of products they’d like to see reviewed on Builder.com (Figure E). With only 5 percent reporting no interest in product reviews, we’ll be looking into publishing more of these in various areas in the future.
Figure E

Which of the following types of products would you like to see reviewed on Builder.com? (Select as many as apply.)
Web development tools
Development books
Web servers/Application servers
Non-Microsoft tools for WIndows development
.NET components, class libraries, and utilities
Java utilities, classes, beans
Java IDEs
Team development tools/Change managers
ActiveX components
*NIX programming tools
Installer tools
Management books
No interest

In response to what our members voted, you’ll see more product reviews on the site in the future.

Technical content mix: More database design and XML
Finally, we asked respondents to gauge their interest in seeing more technical content published on Builder.com in the same 31 areas as the technology expertise questions. While I won’t be publishing the entire results here, I can share some specifics with you:

  • XML led the most requested list, with over 50 percent of you asking for both more advanced and more introductory coverage.
  • Next in line was database design: A shade more than 50 percent of respondents want to see more advanced-level articles, with around 33 percent asking for more introductory coverage.
  • Web page building and design is still a popular topic: 44 percent of you asked for more advanced coverage, and 30 percent asked for more introductory topics.
  • .NET and Web services were both popular topic areas, with over 40 percent of you asking for both more advanced and introductory articles.

Tell us what you think of these results

What specific topics would you like to see Builder.com cover in the future? Send the editors an e-mail with your topic ideas.