The "55M End-User Programmers" Estimate Revisited
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Abstract or Description
In 1995, Boehm predicted that by 2005, there would be “55 million performers” of “end-user programming” in the United States. Examining the original context and method which generated this number reveals that it actually estimates the number of computer users in businesses—not programmers, per se—and it assumes constant computer usage rates. This paper extends Boehm’s estimate using fresh Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data, including the latest BLS occupational projections (which are for 2012), and a richer estimation method. We estimate that in 2012, there will be 90 million end-users in American workplaces. Of these, we anticipate that over 55 million will use spreadsheets or databases (and therefore will be potential end-user programmers), while over 13 million will describe themselves as programmers. Thus, the potential pool of end-user programmers will probably substantially exceed the population who view themselves as programmers. Each of these estimates, in turn, substantially exceeds the latest BLS projections of fewer than 3 million professional programmers in 2012. Since not all end-users perform the same programming tasks, we surmise that the vast, heterogeneous pool of endusers likely will benefit from a diversity of tools to support their programming activities. Developing such tools efficiently requires a better characterization of what features are valued by each end-user sub-population. To that end, this paper concludes by outlining plans for future research, including creating an abstraction-focused categorization of end-users.