Majority Rule Developers

Aug 7, 2023

Web and data developers set the tone for software simply because they are the majority. By the numbers, there are magnitudes more JavaScript than Rust developers. What are the implications?

  • APIs must meet developers where they are. React Component as the API. Many developers would love language-agnostic APIs over HTTPS (or even gRPC), but the most ergonomic designs win. If an API is tightly coupled with a UI (e.g., Authentication, Search, Forms), it’s much easier to encapsulate in a React component.
  • The Bottoms-up Go-to-Market. Even though lower-level infrastructure often has bigger price tags, it’s harder to build a bottoms-up go-to-market motion when there aren’t many developers to sell to bottoms-up. Web and data developers don’t have the same incentive as DevOps to own and run the infrastructure themselves (so they make great customers).
  • Domains are still tightly coupled to languages. I hypothesized that Python wouldn’t be the language of LLMs at the beginning of the year. So far, I’ve been mostly wrong. Web and data developers aren’t polyglot and stick to their tools.
  • Productivity beats performance. Low-level infrastructure has to be performant. Minor improvements can have outsized benefits across the entire stack. But optimizing a JavaScript library doesn’t have the same benefit (and the bar is high — most web applications are probably more network bound than CPU bound).
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