Estimating the Numbers of End Users and End User Programmers

Date of Original Version



Conference Proceeding

Rights Management

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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. The original context and method which generated this number had two weaknesses, both of which we address. First, it relies on undocumented, judgment based factors to estimate the number of end user programmers based on the total number of end users; we address this weakness by identifying specific end user sub populations and then estimating their sizes. Second, Boehm's estimate relies on additional undocumented, judgment based factors to adjust for rising computer usage rates; we address this weakness by integrating fresh Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data and projections as well as a richer estimation method. With these improvements to Boehm’s 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 may potentially program), while over 13 million will describe themselves as programmers, compared to BLS projections of fewer than 3 million professional programmers. We have validated our improved method by generating estimates for 2001 and 2003, then verifying that our estimates are consistent with existing estimates from other sources.


Proceedings of the 2005 IEEE Symposium on Visual Languages and Human-Centric Computing (VL/HCC’05) 0-7695-2443-5/05 $20.00 © 2005