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Jan 10, 2020

It's in my (web) DNA

MDN Web DNA Report

MDN, the Mozilla Developer Network, released its first annual Web Developer Needs Assessment (DNA) Report, a new survey of web developers designed to help guide the development of the world’s most popular web platforms.

What is it? In the survey, developers are asked to express their needs and wants for the web based on their current frustrations. According to Mozilla, Web DNA aspires to be the "voice of developers and designers working on the web."

That aspiration is backed by some serious firepower, too. With responses from 28,000 web developers across 173 countries and the support of big influential tech organizations—like Google, Microsoft, Mozilla, Samsung, and W3C—Web DNA has the potential to help shape the future of the web.

What’s the biggest complaint? Fragmentation. Web developers dislike navigating the murky web ecosystem that has splintered across browsers, browser versions, and a ballooning number of development frameworks.

The top three frustrations for developers:

  1. Having to support specific browsers
  2. Outdated or inaccurate documentation for frameworks and libraries
  3. Avoiding or removing a feature that doesn’t work across browsers

Four of the top five complaints are related to supporting different browsers. Unsurprisingly, developers’ top request is greater browser compatibility and consistency across browsers.

What’s the impact? With so much energy and frustration focused on juggling different browsers—including legacy browsers—and frameworks, developers have less time to focus on new and innovative technologies.

At the top of the developer wishlist for new tools: better access to native APIs, access to hardware APIs, and full PWA support.

Despite its shortcomings, more than 76% of developers are either satisfied or very satisfied with the web as a platform. Fixing fragmentation problems and freeing up developer time could push that number even higher.

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