State of the Web 2010 - CSS3 on the Rise

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State of the Web 2010 - CSS3 on the Rise

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The State of Web Development 2010 survey recently closed and published its results.  In the survey, professional web designers and developers answer over 50 questions about various web technology topics.  The last survey was conducted in late 2008, and compared to that survey we find that technologies like jQuery, CSS3, and HTML5 are steadily on the rise while desktop-like application frameworks are still lacking widespread adoption.  Respondents tended to be active web community members and early adopters.

Operating Systems and Browsers

Despite the dominant market share for Windows, Mac OS X 10.6 was the victor among the approximately 1,200 web developers/designers surveyed.  About 50% used various versions of Mac while 41% used a version of Windows.  In 2008's survey Windows had a slight lead over Mac, but now it seems that the more tech savvy users are converting to Mac.  

In browser share, Internet Explorer still rules overall, but among web developers, Firefox 3.6 (37.8%) is the clear favorite, according to this survey.  Safari and Chrome are still behind Firefox, but Chrome is steadily gaining widespread popularity.  The survey also compiled the market shares of various browsers' rendering engines.  Firefox's Gecko was leading this year with 54%, but Safari and Chrome's Webkit grew from 25% share to 46.6% in 2010.  Mobile browsing wasn't even a contest.  When the survey asked respondents to write-in browsers they used in addition to their primary browser, 29% answered Mobile Safari while the next highest mobile browser was Android at 3.8%.  The survey found that developers are slowly starting to optimize their sites for mobile devices - mainly the iPhone.

The greatest amount of testing is still done for IE 7 and 8, according to the results, but Safari, Chrome, and Firefox were largely tested as well.  When respondents were asked to rank (on a scale of 1 to 5) which features determined their primary browser choice, the most important aspect was standards support (81% said 'very important').  Plugin and built-in developer tools got varying degrees of importance while a majority of respondents said it was very important to have CSS3 and HTML5 support.  Performance and stability were also key factors.

Credit: Web Directions / CC BY-SA 3.0

Markup Languages

While web developers in this survey mainly used XHTML, the amount who "sometimes" use HTML along with XHTML grew slightly from the 2008 survey.  Although both HTML and XHTML are permissible in HTML5, HTML may be getting some predominance by HTML5's developers.  HTML5 development still didn't seem widespread in this survey since 7% said they normally use it and 21% said 'sometimes.'  However, the respondents who 'never' use HTML5 were less prevalent this year (65% down from 83% in 2008).  The most used APIs included geolocation and client-side storage.

Here are some of the presentational elements and attributes that respondents use:

Credit: Web Directions / CC BY-SA 3.0

In a set of questions about extended semantics, the survey found that a third of respondents used microformats and only 5% used RDFa in their markup.  SVG is another standard that has very little usage, with 75% of respondents saying they didn't use it.


Most of the respondents develop to W3C standards and then try to work around IE.  The decision has payed off now that new web standards are gaining wide adoption even in IE (9).  The survey asked which CSS selectors the respondents commonly used and 80% or more indicated Class selec­tors such as p.classname {}, HTML ele­ment selec­tors such as p {}, ID selec­tors such as p#idname {}, and Descendent selec­tors such as p a {}.  One major change from 2008's results was the increase in CSS3 and experimental CSS usage.  Only 22% used CSS3 or experimental CSS properties in 2008, but now the users of those properties have surpassed the users who don't use them.  The most used property is border-radius by a significant margin.  

JavaScript, Ajax, and the DOM

Here is how most respondents used JavaScript in their development:

Credit: Web Directions / CC BY-SA 3.0

Compared to 2008, these stats haven't changed much.  There was a slight drop in JS usage overall (except in complex app interaction).  One notable change in the JS ecosystem is the increasing dominance of jQuery.  It's top four competitors all took a hit since 2008 and now jQuery stands at 78% usage by the respondents, up from 63% in 2008.

32% of respondents strictly adhere to the W3C DOM and avoid browser specific extensions.  47% said they do this as much as possible.  According to another question, more respondents are always separating their JS from their markup (43% always, 37% usually).


Another indication that web standards like HTML5 and CSS3 are not necessarily at odds with Flash or Silverlight media is the growth in both technologies.  The respondents who used non-web standard technologies (Flash, Silverlight) grew by 5% since 2008.   59% used Flash content while 42% embedded YouTube, which now can use HTML5 video in some cases (Flash binary is the default).

Here were the methods most used for including HTML5 media content in a site:

Credit: Web Directions / CC BY-SA 3.0

The embed element is non-standard, and some are wondering whether it would be useful to include it in the HTML standard.


These were the results when respondents were asked which programming languages they used on the server-side:

Credit: Web Directions / CC BY-SA 3.0

And these were the backend frameworks that they used:

Credit: Web Directions / CC BY-SA 3.0


The most surprising response for the cloud section of this survey was the 22% of respondents who answered 'yes' when asked if they "rely on cloud computing resources."  In a 'choose all that are applicable' question, the highest number of respondents used online storage (16%) while 10% used IaaS and 7% used PaaS.  

Finally, respondents revealed the cloud services that they use:

Credit: Web Directions / CC BY-SA 3.0

The State of Web Development” sur­vey is brought to you by Web Directions con­fer­ences, and Scroll Magazine, and con­ducted by John Allsopp


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