Does Your Geography Choose Your Framework? Posted on June 30th, 2016
In November of 2015, I was able to attend php[world], a conference geared towards php communities and frameworks. While I was able to see several great talks and exchange stories with amazing developers, one of the things that I found interesting is how geography effects our selection of libraries and frameworks.
At the conference, I was initially surprised by the number of sponsors who were marketing Drupal support. Eventually, I started talking to one of these sponsors about my surprise. I probably said something stupid like:
Is Drupal big out here(Washington, D.C.)? I'm from California and I don't feel like there are many Drupal shops.
The sponsor was extremely nice and gave me a bit of backstory. It had something to do with a government agency adopting Drupal for their sites which lead to other government agencies adopting Drupal. The sponsor continued that Rails wasn't as popular on the East Coast as it was on the West Coast. Which I verified, Rails has a quite large following in SF and the wider Bay Area.
Later, I attended Mark Story's talk about CakePHP. As this was a community focused conference, he covered some of the intricacies of multi language user bases. He mentioned some stat stating how many CakePHP books were published in Japanese. I talked to Mark about Cake's popularity in Japan and my thoughts on geography and library usage. He confirmed that Cake's Japanese user base was quite large. I also remember, somebody at the conference remarking that France was a Symfony Fortress, implying that most development in France is done using Symfony.
There are a few simple explanations for all of this. Developers choose libraries and frameworks that have good documentation in a language they speak. Developers learn about new technologies and solutions at their local user groups. As developers change jobs, they bring the libraries they used at their previous job. They also share with their old colleagues the libraries they're using at their new job. Business leaders make technical decisions based off what has worked for other companies. In the end none of this is surprising. But I found it all interesting. As an engineer working on a remote team for a multinational company supporting sites in multiple languages, I feel my location has little to no effect on my library and framework decisions. However based on my experiences at php[world] that doesn't seem to be true. It'd be interesting to see a geographic heat map of where composer libraries are being installed or to track the growth of the library geographically over time.