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Focusing on developers

Originally published on the Console Blog on 12 Jan 2021. I’m reposting here because it discusses important trends in the tech industry, and the market for developer tools in particular.

Almost a decade ago, Marc Andreessen declared that “software is eating the world”. His thesis was that every company in every industry would be revolutionized by software:

More and more major businesses and industries are being run on software and delivered as online services — from movies to agriculture to national defense. Many of the winners are Silicon Valley-style entrepreneurial technology companies that are invading and overturning established industry structures. Over the next 10 years, I expect many more industries to be disrupted by software, with new world-beating Silicon Valley companies doing the disruption in more cases than not.

This turned out to be correct. Whether it is embedded industrial control systems, manipulating biological building blocks, or just chatting to your friends, the products, services, and tools we use every day all rely on software.

The extent of this was shown during the COVID-19 pandemic as many of us shifted online from offices, classrooms, traveling, having meetings, and even debating in parliaments. Software is now crucial to every industry.

The age of the developer #

As software has become more important, so the demand for developers has increased. Whether you call yourself an engineer, a programmer, developer, hacker, coder, or something else, more and more organizations are building skilled technology teams to change how they achieve their mission.

Unlike other industries which have regulatory bodies, review groups, and periodical journal publications to help their members stay up to date, developers must rely on forums, social media, and recommendations from friends and colleagues.

At smaller organizations, developers can often make huge decisions by themselves. They get to choose their favorites, often having used them for hobby projects or at a previous job.

These decisions tend to be more process-driven the larger an organization becomes, but even in the largest teams, the individual developer can still choose their own OS, text editor, development environment, and many of the tools that go with it.

Ideas have to trickle down through word-of-mouth and discoveries are made by running code in production. Knowledge and ideas are shared at events, meetups, and conferences but apart from a few key, fundamental internet technologies, there are no committees publishing guidelines and proscribing the one, correct, approach.

The technology world is decentralized, and rightly so. And if you don’t like the choices made for you, it is not difficult to find another job or build an alternative approach.

This means developers have significant power over key decisions, from picking the language used to build the product to deciding on a framework, database, tool, or vendor. Individual developers can direct or influence large budgets and make technology decisions that last for years.

With StackOverflow seeing 50 million monthly visitors and GitHub saying they have 56 million developers, we firmly believe we are now in the age of the developer, a developer with many choices.

Serving the developer #

The massive growth in software development has been mirrored by an equally massive growth in the market for developer tools.

Consider Microsoft, known for Office and Windows but actually deriving huge revenues from its cloud computing (Azure) and developer tools (Visual Studio & .NET) businesses. Its market capitalization is well over $1 trillion dollars.

Consider Amazon, known for online shopping but making most of its profit from cloud computing (AWS). Also with a market capitalization over $1 trillion dollars.

Both Microsoft and Amazon have other business lines, so consider other large/public companies that purely sell to developers (or adjacent job roles like devops): New Relic & DataDog (monitoring); Twilio & Stripe (APIs); Atlassian & JetBrains (bug tracking, IDEs, developer productivity); MongoDB (databases); Elastic (search). These companies are all valued at many billions of dollars, and those are just the profit-driven companies. There are even more free, open source projects.

Whether open source, cloud, SaaS, large public company or small startup, there has never been more choice for developers.

Yet we are only just starting.

Console – the best tools for developers #

We believe we are still early in the software industry. Despite the wide selection of options, there are still only a few companies in each category, and new approaches are being invented all the time. You only need to look at the timeline and regular release of new database products to see how innovation is accelerating. This applies across the whole industry.

Developers are an important group that make big decisions, yet face an onslaught of marketing and sales combined with an unrelenting velocity of releases to keep up with.

This is why we started Console.

Our aim is to become the place developers go to find the best tools. The independent voice that developers trust to help them discover the best and most interesting tools. Our recommendations are made through years of experience and research, bringing a deep practical understanding of the needs of experienced developers. We pride ourselves on being transparent in our editorial approach. It’s our job to do the filtering, so you can stay up-to-date with the tools that matter, and focus on what you do best. Building.