For novel ideas about building embedded systems (both hardware and firmware), join the 35,000 engineers who subscribe to The Embedded Muse, a free biweekly newsletter. The Muse has no hype and no vendor PR. Click here to subscribe.
By Jack Ganssle
I'll present my Better Firmware Faster seminar in Melbourne and Perth, Australia February 20 and 26th. All are invited. More info here. The early registration discount ends January 20.
2010 VDC Survey
Summary: The latest VDC survey of this industry is not promising.
Though I'm reluctant to put too much faith in surveys - and am astonished when numbers are quoted to precisions of a tenth of a percent - they do serve an important function in painting an impressionistic view of the industry. The data might be fuzzier than related, but surveys can give one a general picture of industry trends and practices.
This year's 2010 Market Intelligence Service Research data from VDC is out. I have a copy of the highlights, which are revealing.
For instance, offshoring is expected to continue to grow. A third of the engineers responding think they're company will increase this activity, with only 10% anticipating a decrease.
Industrial automation continues to be the biggest sector in this industry: 14% work there, with only 12% in consumer electronics. That's followed by military/aerospace and automotive with similar scores. 6% work in the energy and power sector. I wonder how many of those jobs are in alternative energy?
Firmware is the biggest part of projects. If one excludes test/verification/validation engineers, the software folks make up about half the team (I exclude those as it's not clear to me if their role is mostly biased in a software or hardware direction).
I found it quite surprising that 60% of us chose the CPU first and the OS or tools second. Only 12% consider tools before any other component; 22% select the OS first. The latter number is almost exactly the same as the percentage of people using a FOSS OS (in which Linux probably dominates), so it's natural to wonder if there's a correlation between the two. The results are silent on that.
46% of us use a TCP/IP stack in our projects. I guess even electric toothbrushes now need an Internet connection.
Tool use figures are scary: 43% don't use any form of VCS, a number practically unchanged from a decade ago. Less than half use bug tracking tools. Requirements management tools - and let's face it, project success is all about managing requirements - score a pitiful 17%.
Only 30% do code peer review. It's not clear if that's review of all new code or perhaps a subset. But a solid 27% admit to cowboy coding, coupled with 15% who have no idea what coding methodology is used.
The data shows that, though we do know better ways to build software, a lot of us chose to ignore those approaches.
You can learn more about the survey here: http://www.vdcresearch.com/market_research/embedded_software/index.aspx .
Published September 26, 2010