New research from Rollbar, the leading continuous code improvement platform, indicates that the overwhelming majority (88%) of developers feel that traditional error monitoring falls short of their expectations. The December survey of 950 developers also reveals that fixing bugs and errors in code is developers’ No. 1 pain point.
“This research highlights the extreme challenges that developers – and their businesses – face when addressing software bugs and errors,” said Francesco Crippa, vice president of engineering at Rollbar. “Traditional error monitoring simply doesn’t cut it in a world in which software has become an important aspect of how everything in society works.”
Gen Z developers were the age group most likely to complain about the old-school approach to error monitoring. Ninety-four percent of developers in the 18- to 24-year-old cohort admitted that traditional error monitoring doesn’t adequately meet all of their requirements.
And they’re not alone. More than three-fourths (79%) of Boomer developers agreed. Propeller Insights, which executed the Rollbar study, defines Boomers as people who are 65 or older.
The larger survey group said that traditional error monitoring is less than ideal because:
- It requires them to manually respond to errors (39%)
- It takes them too long to find all of the details they need to fix bugs and errors (36%)
- It focuses on system stability and not enough on code health (31%)
- It makes it difficult to detect errors (29%)
- Its approach to error aggregation is either too broad or too narrow (23%)
Manual Processes Make Fixing Bugs Time Consuming and Developer Work Unpleasant
Software allows for innovation, industry disruption, digital transformation, and positive outcomes for businesses and society. But it can also leave developers stuck in the weeds.
More than a third (38%) of developers said that they spend up to a quarter of their time fixing software bugs. Slightly more than a quarter (26%) said that they spend up to half their time fixing bugs. Eight percent of those surveyed said that they must dedicate up to three-fourths of their time to fixing bugs. Developers in the West tend to spend the most time fixing bugs. A tenth of the group in the Western U.S. said that up to 75% of their time involves such pursuits.
This is a major struggle for developers, as reflected by this next survey statistic: 44% of developers said their biggest pain point is fixing software bugs and errors. Millennial and Gen Z developers indicated that they find such efforts particularly painful. Nearly half (48.3%) of Millennial developers said fixing bugs and errors is their biggest pain point. Nearly as many Gen Z respondents (45.8%) said that they consider this the most painful aspect of their work.
In fact, nearly two-thirds of all developers said they would rather do an unpleasant activity than fix errors. More than a fourth (26%) said they would rather pay bills. More than a fifth (21%) said they would prefer going to the dentist. And 20% would rather spend time with their in-laws.
Developers Are Spending Too Much Time Fixing Code and Not Enough Time Writing It
Even more problematic is the fact that developers said that fixing code takes time away from more important work. Nearly a third (32%) of developers said they spend up to 10 hours a week fixing bugs instead of writing code. Sixteen percent said they spend up to 15 hours a week and 6% said they have to dedicate up to 20 hours a week fixing bugs instead of writing code.
More than half of developers (55%) said that if they didn’t have to spend so much time fixing bugs, they would have the time to build new features and functionality. Forty-two percent of the total survey group said they would be able to do their job if not for the time spent on fixing bugs.
Manually Responding to Errors Creates Personal and Professional Problems for Developers
The Rollbar survey suggests that having to manually respond to errors is taking a huge toll on developers’ job performance, morale and even their overall quality of life.
More than a third of developers said if they didn’t have to spend so much time fixing code:
- They would spend more time with their family (37%)
- They would exercise more (33%)
- They would get a full night’s sleep (31%)
Nearly a third of the survey group (31%) said that manually responding to errors makes them feel frustrated. More than a fifth of developers (22%) said they feel overwhelmed when using manual processes to address errors in software. Nearly as many (17%) said it leads to burn out.
Some developers experience even stronger reactions. More than a tenth (12%) said it elicits feelings of resentment and 7% said it makes them want to quit their jobs. The desire to quit due to such processes was more pronounced with developers in the West – 9% of this group said that manually responding to errors makes them want to find employment elsewhere.
Business Suffers Too Because User Complaints and Software Errors Are Bad for the Brand
Despite all the time and pains developers take to fix code, errors and bugs still go undetected. Unfortunately, users often find these problems before developers and their employers do.
Nearly two-thirds of developers (62%) said they have found out about errors from users reporting through the app. Worse yet, software users may air their complaints in public forums. A quarter (25%) of developers said that they have heard about errors from users sharing these issues on social media. An even larger share of the older developers indicated they have had this experience. More than 70% of developers ages 45 to 64 and nearly 83% of developers older than 65 said that they have found out about errors by users complaining on social media.
Other times, developers said, they learn about software bugs and errors from media reports or even straight from the top – via their company’s CEO. Seventeen percent of developers reported that media coverage clued them in about errors in their software. More than a fifth (21%) of the developers in the Rollbar survey said they have heard about errors from their CEO.
Nearly nine in 10 developers (89%) agree that undetected errors can take a big toll on the business. More than a fourth (26%) of developers said that their employers have lost a significant number of users due to errors in software. The same share (26%) said software errors damage their company’s reputation and its ability to attract investments, and nearly a fifth (18%) said that undetected software problems anger their company’s existing investors.
“Software is now at the heart of every business, so company leaders understand the value of providing great user experiences,” said Brian Rue, CEO and co-founder of Rollbar. “But software is made of code, and code isn’t perfect. Bugs and errors are inevitable. Yet, this survey illustrates that developers still struggle to deal with errors. With continuous code improvement, developers responsible for mission-critical applications can identify bugs and their root causes in real-time, and even automate the steps to resolve them. The outcome is a more proactive approach, resolving issues before users report them and giving developers more time to focus on innovating. Our Continuous Code Improvement Platform helps our customers release into production more often, spend less development time fixing bugs, and reduce mean-time-to-awareness and mean-time-to-resolve to improve user experiences.”
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Rollbar is the leading continuous code improvement platform that proactively discovers, predicts, and remediates errors with real-time AI-assisted workflows. With Rollbar, developers continually improve their code and constantly innovate rather than spending time monitoring, investigating, and debugging. More than 5,000 businesses, including Twilio, Salesforce, Twitch, and Affirm, use Rollbar to deploy better software, faster while quickly recovering from critical errors as they happen. Learn more at Rollbar.com