Technology index alert: The new kid on the playground
Pluralsight, the enterprise technology learning platform, announced the launch of the Pluralsight Technology Index that ranks the demand for skills in certain technologies. Here we offer an introduction in the methodology behind the new index and take a look at some interesting results.
Having spent the majority of my 20s in university programmes, I’ve come to appreciate a well-established research and to distrust or at least be skeptical towards studies with limited data sources.
This is why the academic that lives inside me was so pleased after reading the newly established Puralsight Technology Index. With a variety of data sources, well defined and executed methodology, I predict a bright future for this young Padawan!
Since this index has just been released, I find it important to understand the goals and methodology behind its creation.
Strong with the force this one is
Pluralsight Technology Index (PTI) was established by Pluralsight, an enterprise technology learning platform that aims to deliver a unified, end-to-end learning experience for companies worldwide.
PTI itself aims to paint the picture of the technology ecosystem by ranking 300+ software development technologies in terms of popularity/engagement. The goal of the index is to provide enterprises and individuals with the data they need in order to decide if an investment in a particular technology is worth their time and resources and for that reason, it will be updated monthly.
To calculate popularity among technologies, the index uses data from five different sources: GitHub, Stack Overflow, Google AdWords, YouTube, Google search. According to the index’s methodology:
“For each data source, the PTI finds the proportional popularity of a technology versus all other technologies. Then to reduce the effect of any outliers (proportional popularities), the index takes the median of the proportional popularities for each technology, from the various data sources, and then rescales so the results sum to one.”
The goal of this method is to fit a 0-1 scale. This is accomplished by finding the overall proportion represented by the median proportional popularity. On the official webpage, you can find a couple of examples of how the index applies this method.
PTI’s goal to take the pulse of the technology ecosystem is threefold. It captures:
- Interest around the origin and usage of a given technology
- Interest around learning a given technology
- The actual utilization of a given technology
However, there are limitations to PTI’s accuracy, as with every study ever done! What is important is that the index does cover its limitations in detail and explain the drivers behind those limitations. According to the official methodology, PTI is not all-inclusive and not 100% exact. The reason behind the first point is that the index does not have the ability to track *all* of the technologies existing and, therefore, makes the effort to focus on the 300+ most popular ones. The driver behind the second limitation point is the real-world constraints the research is faced with. Most precisely, the index’s performance depends on the ability to:
- Expertly hand-tune relevant queries (submitted to search-based data sources) for Google Search and YouTube in a consistent way to yield comprehensive and relevant results
- Find and map-related repositories for GitHub signals
- Identify all the relevant tags for Stack Overflow signals
- Identify all related search keywords for Google AdWords signals
But enough about methodology and limitations. I won’t let my academic enthusiasm distract you from the actual results any longer!
The strongest of them all
“Blockchain… is already affecting our lives in ways we never could imagine only a few years ago, with everything from smart city implementations, to ensuring trust in medical transactions. Even more important to understand is that blockchain technology is only the first step of building trust between strangers outside of the legal and financial realm.”
Jan-Erik Sandberg, Pluralsight author
Apples to apples and oranges to oranges
It is definitely important to be able to compare all the various technologies and the real-time demand for the respective skills. Nonetheless, for me, it can be even more interesting to compare the rankings among specific technologies; namely languages, frameworks and data stores.
On the top 5 frameworks list, Angular ranks first, followed by Spring, Node.js, React and Laravel. Before you start yelling, let me clarify that I merely adopt the classification of the Pluralsight Technology Index and I do not wish to engage in the “is React a library or a framework” debate.
Coming back to the number one on the frameworks list, with the anticipation of Angular v6 continuing to boil, PTI portraits the demand for Angular skills at the top of the ranking.
As the Pluralinsight analysis might have suggested already, blockchain dominates the demand among data stores. The days of MySQL domination appear to be over. The rest of the data stores tracked by the index appear to be far behind the two top technologies.
Different indexes, different data sources, different methodologies; every index out there uses a unique methodology in order to take the pulse of the development technologies’ popularity and the demand for specific skills. And of course, this leads to quite different trend rankings. For example, PTI and the Hacker News Hiring Trends ranking of the most popular technologies in demand appear to be in significant disagreement. However, I would argue that PTI has the potential to be the more accurate index, based on the plethora of its data sources and its efficient methodology.
We have a new kid on the playground and, personally, I cannot hide my excitement! That being said, I do not intend to ignore the other popular and well-established indexes. I do, however, have my eyes fixed on the Pluralsight Technology Index and I look forward to reviewing the monthly results. Welcome to the family, PTI!