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A few days ago Ajaxian published the results of a survey about the usage of Ajax among web developers, but since it was too generic for my taste I decided to make one targeted only to .NET developers.
I got a bit more than 1000 responses in less that 2 days, and since the results were starting to stabilize (and the response rate was very low compared to the 50 responses per hour of the first day), this morning I decided to close the survey and then analyze the data and publish the results.

The results

Top10 But let's have a quick look at the results and later do some more thoughts: among the 95% of the .NET developers that said they are using some flavor of Ajax either in production, development or prototype, the most used Ajax toolkit is ASP.NET Ajax, with 73,7%, followed by the Ajax Control Toolkit which is used by almost half of the .NET developer that are using Ajax.
And the second most used framework after the Microsoft one are Michael Schwarz's Ajax.NET Professional and jQuery, both used by 13,3% of the users.

And guess what? The most used toolkit for building web applications is ASP.NET Webforms, used by 97% of the developers, and 90 percentage points behind, with 7,6%, is the second most used toolkit: ASP.NET MVC.

Let's now have a look in detail at the data collected, doing some more analysis.

ASP.NET Ajax and Ajax Control Toolkit

First I want to point out one strange result: I would have expected that people using the Ajax Control Toolkit also checked the ASP.NET Ajax box. But this didn't happen, probably because some didn't take into account that the Control Toolkit is an abstraction above the core ASP.NET Ajax library. Adding to the ranks of the ASP.NET Ajax users also the ones that only checked the Control Toolkit, the final percentage grows to 84%: this means that 8 out of 10 .NET developers use ASP.NET Ajax.

Partial Rendering vs Core ASP.NET library usage

Option Response %
Partial Rendering / Update Panel 91,8%
Ajax Library 53%

This is quite an impressive result: only 8% of the ASP.NET Ajax users don't use the partial rendering trick. Even though it's just a trick that, technically speaking, doesn't have anything to do with "real" Ajax, most of the developers used this quick approach to built Web2.0-like applications.

But half of them also used the core library. In my opinion this validates the design decision made by Microsoft with their ASP.NET Ajax library: it allows easy and quick implementation of simple things or when performance and optimization are not a issue, but it also enables developers to go beyond the surface, to use a more pure development paradigm and to leverage the core library to do more advanced or when there is the need to optimize things.

Commercial tools

Compared to results of the Ajax survey made by Ajaxian, where almost nobody reported using commercial libraries, in the .NET space the 5th most used library is a commercial toolkit: Telerik RadControls, used by 11,7% of the developers.

But they are not alone, as you can see from the following list

Option Response %
Telerik RadControls 11,7%
Infragistics 4,9%
ComponentArt 3,6%
DevExpress 0,7%
ESRI Web ADF 0,3%
Backbase 0,1%

And what if you are not using ASP.NET Ajax?

Looking only at the 13,4% that is not using ASP.NET Ajax, the most popular library is Ajax.NET Pro (33,1%), but almost 1 out of 4 still believes that hand coding Ajax request is the best way to go.
But if we exclude Ajax.NET Pro, the results are similar to the ones of Ajaxian's survey: Prototype, jQuery and Script.aculo.us are the preferred options.

Option Response %
Ajax.NET Professional 33,1%
Raw Ajax 24,4%
Prototype 23,6%
jQuery 21,3%
Script.aculo.us 15%
Telerik radControls 12,6%
Ext JS - JavaScript Library 12,6%

The hard core developers

If 97% of the developers is using Webforms, it also means that 3% of them is not using it.
What are these hard core developers using?

Option Response %
ASP.NET MVC 45,5%
MonoRail 27,3%
SubSonic 13%
WCSF 9%

These ALT guys (2,3% of the total) are also using ASP.NET Ajax (40%), but jQuery is closer with 36,4% and then comes Prototype (27,3%).

Worth noting is that there are more people out there doing some kind of development with the CTP of the MVC framework for ASP.NET then people using MonoRail or SubSonic.

The vintage developers

There is still one category of developers: the ones doing only ASP Classic development. They are only 7 (0,7%) and are mostly using hand coded Ajax calls (60%).

Diving deeper into the data

What about the ones that are using Subsonic but not using jQuery?
And the ones using YUI in conjunction with Script.aculo.us?
Surveymonkey, the tool I used for the survey, provides a powerful filtering engine, so if you want to dive deeper into the data and do your own data mining, you can look at the results online and even download all the 1011 responses in a DB-like format so you can do some SQL queries yourself.

Wrapping up

After all this talking is time for some conclusions. From these data it seems like ASP.NET Ajax is in the toolbox of almost all the .NET developers out there, and that only 1 out of 10 tried different approaches using jQuery, Prototype and other server agnostic libraries.

And, the preferred web toolkit is ASP.NET Webforms, but the ASP.NET MVC seems to be seen as a very good alternative by many people.

Last thought, almost all the ASP.NET Ajax developers are using the partial rendering trick.

I want to thank Steve, Brad, Wally, Scott, Michael and anyone else that published a link to this survey.

And now, back to my new Mac smile_regular.

kick it on DotNetKicks.com

Technorati tags: , ,
posted on Friday, December 21, 2007 1:00 AM

Comments on this entry:

# re: .NET Ajax Survey results

Left by James Luterek at 12/21/2007 3:09 PM

Just to point out that it can be very beneficial to use ASP.NET Ajax in conjunction with a javascript only library like JQuery. ASP.NET Ajax allows for webmethods and JQuery allows for fast and efficient ajax calls.

# re: .NET Ajax Survey results

Left by Trevor at 12/21/2007 7:06 PM

Your results about webforms and ASP.NET MVC are misleading. MonoRail and ASP.NET MVC are alternatives to Webforms, but SubSonic and WSCF are NOT! Most Subsonic users (up until recently) would be using WebForms and many (including myself) are starting to use MVC. WSCF developers would almost definitely be using WebForms.

BTW, I never noticed SubSonic on the survey. Oh well...

# re: .NET Ajax Survey results

Left by foobar at 12/21/2007 7:09 PM

If we can trust your statistics, the death knell has rung for web forms. Considering Asp.Net Mvc is only two weeks old, almost 8% usage is an astonishing number.

# re: .NET Ajax Survey results

Left by Simone Chiaretta at 12/21/2007 8:25 PM

@Trevor: you say this because you didn't see how many user added NHibernate, DotNetNuke, name-your-vendor and other generic .NET libraries. I started with only webform, MVC and Monorail and I moved almost all of "others" under the WebForm, but WebClient SF and SubSonic had more users then the others so I thought it was not nice to completely remove them from the survey. Anyway, since the users of SubSonic where only 3% and WCSF only 2,4%, and that most of them are also using the WebForm I don't think it's a great problem. Furthermore the interest of the survey was on the usage of Ajax library, not on the usage of web site toolkits.

# re: .NET Ajax Survey results

Left by Simone Chiaretta at 12/21/2007 8:31 PM

@foobar: you can trust my statistics as long as I can trust the 1000 people that filled in the survey... it's a "chain of trust" :)
It was possible to give multiple answers, so 8% of people using ASP.NET MVC means that 1 dev out of 13 at least tried doing some coding with the new ASP.NET framework. I hope nobody is using it in real production code at the moment :)

# re: .NET Ajax Survey results

Left by Ken Egozi at 12/22/2007 10:56 AM

Comparing Asp.NET MVC and MonoRail still is a no-go.
MonoRail is being used in production environments for quite some time, while a go-live license for ASP.NET MVC is still ahead.
so, people who have downloaded ASPNET.MVC and have followed one of the demos aren't really ASPNET.MVC users.

Anyway - it does show the huge potential of this framework, and I really am happy for it

# re: .NET Ajax Survey results

Left by Greg at 12/28/2007 5:14 PM

I wonder how many developers using open source/community ajax toolkits that actually got that toolkit approved by their development manager and customers. Any consultant introducing un-approved tools, toolkits, build tools, libraries, etc. would be quickly removed from a project at our company. This is the result of us having to live with many many unsupported, dead, near-dead tools, libraries, com components, build tools, scripting libraries, etc. in our production environment given that we've had multiple rounds of consultants each of which brought in their tool set, methodology which relied heavily on tools that have a 2 year life span. That's no good if you do not want to re-write your applications every 2 years.

# re: .NET Ajax Survey results

Left by Thomas Hansen at 1/4/2008 11:58 PM

Too bad Ajax.NET is abandonware as of from today :(
http://ajaxwidgets.com/Blogs/thomas/ajax_net_professional_is_dead.bb

.t

# re: .NET Ajax Survey results

Left by Simone at 1/5/2008 10:48 AM

@Thomas: it's not actually dead: it has been converted from a Michael's personal project to an opensource project at http://www.codeplex.com/AjaxPro
Anyone can ask Michael to join the group and actively develop on it.

# re: .NET Ajax Survey results

Left by Ishai Hachlili at 2/5/2008 1:14 PM

Didn't read all the comments, but you have to keep in mind that script.aculo.us is actually a library that allows animation and other display tricks, and it uses prototype for server side calls.

I'm using MS Ajax.net extensions for the server calls, but I'm also using prototype because there are some cool things in this library that the MS library doesn't have (or are hidden well and I couldn't find them) but I hardly ever use the server side controls (update panel, toolkit)

If there's one thing microsoft does best it's developement tools. People can go on about their OS, office or other products not being as good as their competition, but the developement tools and libraries are by far better then the rest. So even if they showed up a little late to the AJAX party (that they started themselves with the XmlHttp object back in IE4) their library is still the best just becuase it's easier to use.

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