Survey data shows developer community growth and productivity increase during COVID pandemic.

On the heels of GitHub’s State of the Octoverse report, which revealed how developer productivity is back to pre-pandemic levels, DigiconAsia discussed with Pierluigi Cau, Regional Director of Field Services, APAC, GitHub, how APAC businesses can readjust to the new way of working.

Are we seeing higher levels of growth in the developer community compared to the pre-pandemic period? Is there any significant difference between Asia Pacific and the rest of the world?

Cau: Developers continue to play a crucial role in shaping the technology scene in Asia, particularly as countries like Singapore aim to establish themselves as innovation and tech hubs. Naturally, this has contributed to a thriving developer ecosystem with Asia ranking second in terms of active GitHub users (31.2%), just behind North America (31.5%), according to our State of the Octoverse report.

Asian countries like Singapore (40.3%), India (38.3%), and Japan (30.1%) have also witnessed strong year-on-year growth, reflecting the power and engagement behind the software development community in those regions.

Beyond the growth figures, we’re also witnessing more open source contributions from outside of the US, with increasing contributions from Asia, and users are not only consuming open source software from the community, but actively contributing back to it too. This is great to see as it creates a much richer open source ecosystem. Ultimately, every commit, comment, and pull request has a ripple effect, creating opportunities for yourself and for others.

What are the factors driving the growth in the developer community in Asia Pacific, and how are they different from the pre-pandemic days?

Cau: It’s no secret that companies in APAC are accelerating their digital transformation plans, especially against the backdrop of Asia’s growing internet economy and surging digital consumers. About 70 million people in South East Asia became digital consumers since the pandemic began, and many more are still expected to do so in the coming years.

With rising expectations for seamless digital experiences, organisations now recognise that developers are a key asset for expediting digital transformation. That’s because developers are at the heart of digital innovation, bring new products to market, and help  businesses achieve their ambitions. Considering one-third of companies expect to generate over 30% of their revenues from digital products and services by 2023, good developer talent is now one of the key deciding factors in whether companies lead the charge or lose out to competitors.

What are employees – especially developers – expecting from the future workplace, and how can business leaders best set up a conducive environment and working arrangement for their teams?

Cau: Over the past couple of years, attitudes on the future of work have shifted and businesses around the world, including those in APAC, have had to embrace completely new ways of working, such as remote and hybrid work.

When it comes to developers specifically, our State of the Octoverse report showed that only about 11% of developers worldwide expect to go back to working co-located. This is a 30% drop from the 41% that were working in an office before the pandemic. At the same time, our report revealed that developer productivity is returning to pre-pandemic levels, thanks to documentation and automation.

In today’s distributed world of hybrid work, developers are a shining example of how you can be productive anywhere if you can communicate, collaborate, and contribute effectively. In fact, the open source software community has been ahead of the game for years when it comes to working asynchronously in distributed teams.

DevOps plays a key role here and helps ensure developers stay productive and have full visibility into the software development pipeline. That’s because DevOps prioritises close collaboration between traditionally siloed teams and automates as much of the software development lifecycle as possible. Ultimately, by embracing a DevOps mindset, teams can take advantage of global collaboration, communication, and teamwork, which are key factors for successfully moving software from development to production.

The additional takeaway for business leaders is to give developers – and any employee for that matter – a say in how and where they work. They should take the time to understand how their developers like to work and equip them with the right environment to do so most effectively. This is key to unlocking the full potential of developer teams and will ultimately help provide a competitive edge in today’s software-driven world.

While developers can benefit massively from automation, what are some key factors hindering software automation in Asia Pacific?

Cau: Automation offers huge advantages. It relieves teams of mundane tasks and allows them to reallocate time to more creative challenges. In fact, our report highlights that removing friction and repetitive tasks through automation allows teams to perform 27% better in open source and 43% better at work, and developers report higher fulfilment too.

Realising these benefits hinges on an organisation’s ability to overcome some common challenges. Particularly, roadblocks caused by ineffective enterprise and security policies, departmental silos, and legacy development practices. A great place to start when trying to overcome these hurdles is testing new automation tooling with a small project or process first. This will lay the foundation for scaling and standardising automation across an entire organisation, including how to measure effectiveness and progression towards goals.

Besides automation, what are some other key contributing factors that can help increase developer productivity?

Cau: Embracing open source is a surefire way to amplify developer productivity. That’s because open source is a catalyst for innovation – it boosts collaboration, strengthens security, and bolsters the overall quality of digital services. Data from our Octoverse report found that developers’ performance at work can increase by up to 87% when reusing others’ code. Additionally, team performances can improve two-fold after incorporating frictionless code reuse into projects compared to those with more friction, like slow processes or multiple approval layers.

Building on the foundations of open source, innersourcing is another way to boost developer productivity. This practice allows organisations to tap into the capabilities of developers who are familiar with open source tools and bring them inside the company firewall. Innersource reduces silos and simplifies collaboration throughout an entire organisation – inside and between teams and functions, as well as across teams and business lines. This helps developers build software faster and work better together, leading to higher-quality development.

On top of that, popular tools such as the version control system Git, or pre-configured environments hosted in the cloud, can make writing, testing, building, and deploying software a lot more seamless, no matter where developers are working. Using a cloud-hosted integrated development environment (IDE) enables developers to start coding in seconds on anything from an iPad to Chromebook, and they also offer the ability to collaborate on multiple development branches, deploy hundreds of changes per day, and spin up development environments quickly.

Tokopedia is a great example of how a brand can scale and succeed by adopting open source technology and a flexible cloud platform. The Southeast Asian e-commerce specialist was growing rapidly, with its development team increasing from 300 engineers to over 1,000 across multiple locations, and needed to move from using an on-premise system for application builds to a more flexible cloud platform for teams to work on code remotely. The organisation was also able to successfully unify DevOps, security engineers and leaders, and overcome differences to build different feature sets and push out platform-level code simultaneously.