Majority of developers spending half, or less, of their day coding, report finds

If you only get four hours max to code during the work day you're not alone, according to ActiveState's 2019 developer survey. Here's what leaders can do to fix that.

Why your love of computers isn't enough to make it in IT Long-time IT professional and TechRepublic writer Jack Wallen offers advice for overcoming the many challenges IT workers face from long hours to frustrating end users.

ActiveState has released its 2019 developer survey, and while it contains a number of interesting findings one element stands out: Developers simply don't have the time to build as much code as they should.

The survey found that 61.5% of developers spend four hours or less a day writing code, the bulk of which only get two to four hours a day to do so. That 61.5% figure is an increase of 10% over 2018's results, in which 51% reported getting four or less hours a day to code.

The decrease in time available to developers to do what they specialize in seems to be occurring despite the push for more responsive project management strategies.

Instead of increasing flexibility and decreasing response time developers are seemingly being pulled in multiple directions: developers report that design and architecture, meetings, testing, and bug hunting are the most common distractions.

Most developers that took the survey said that they have to deal with a combination of factors distracting them from writing code. Other common distractions include dealing with security issues, building libraries and packages, and managing dependencies.

How to help developers stay on task

No matter what project management strategy a team subscribes to, it's essential to plan everything. Good planning of a project can be the difference between its success and delays due to people having to backfill missing roles or picking up slack to meet deadlines, which can result in skilled professionals not doing the work they are best at.

A report from Rainforest QA released in April 2019 highlights one of the major shortcomings that organizations need to face: QA testing. ActiveState's survey backs that assertion up, with developers saying bug hunting and testing are two common tasks they have to perform in lieu of coding.

QA integration with development can create a mess, and clearly defined roles and separate teams are necessary to ensure success and quicker turnaround times. While focusing on QA, the same goes for the rest of a project, especially development: let your people focus on what they are good at and assign others to handle QA, bug hunting, dependency management, and security concerns (all of which could feasibly be assigned to a QA team).

With development times shrinking, turnaround times becoming faster, and pressure on developers increasing it's essential that project leaders and CXOs understand the pressure their teams are under and take steps to ensure they are maximizing production time by not getting distracted.

There's a lot more information to be gleaned from the ActiveState report, but one thing is for sure: Developers need a good team behind them to help them get their work done, and its up to that team to make sure two to four hours is just a fraction of the time in a day developers have to code.

For more, check out 5 tips for reducing turnover in tech, and 5 ways project managers can respond to project changes.

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By Brandon Vigliarolo

Brandon writes about apps and software for TechRepublic. He's an award-winning feature writer who previously worked as an IT professional and served as an MP in the US Army.