Embedded development survey reveals trends, concerns for engineers

June 17, 2015 // By Richard Quinnell
Each year EDN's parent company UBM conducts a survey of embedded developers to learn about their preferences and pain points, design environment and tools, and hardware and software choices. This year's study shows that while many things remain the same, there are changes afoot in such things as processor size, operating system choices, and developer concerns as embedded development evolves. Added insight into Asian embedded development has also come out of this year's study.

The survey for the Embedded Market Study was developed and managed by an independent research company and covered a variety of topics. Findings include types of technology used, all aspects of the embedded development process, IoT emergence, tools used, work environment, applications, methods/processes, operating systems used, reasons for using chips and technology, and brands and chips being considered by embedded developers. The study is adjusted each year, but many of the questions are repeated in successive studies so that trends over three to five years get revealed.

One of the important changes in this year's study has to do with demographics. Nearly 40% of the respondents reside in the US and Canada, with about 26% each for Europe and Asia. This represents a near doubling of the Asian developers represented, which highlighted some significant regional differences in several areas.

Who are you?

One such difference relates to experience levels. On a worldwide average, the study's respondents have been out of school [university] for more than 20 years. The Asian component, however, is much younger, averaging 12 years out of school. Asian developers also put greater effort than average into maintaining or improving their professional skills, spending more days in career training as well as reading more books and technical journals.

The situation that developers find themselves in is fairly common, however. On average, more than half of current development projects (56%) involve upgrading or adding features to existing designs rather than creating something entirely new. Development project team size (including QA, test, and systems integration engineers) has held steady at around 14 engineers, typically working on at least two projects simultaneously. Engineering resources are split roughly 60-40 in favour of software over hardware. Industrial control is the most common application space teams are working in, followed by consumer and communications, although the IoT has grown substantially since last year (12% to 19%) to round out the top four.

The situation