A global survey of 950 developers published today finds more than a third (38%) of developers spend up to a quarter of their time fixing software bugs, with slightly more than a quarter (26%) spending up to half their time fixing bugs.
Conducted by the market research firm Propeller Insights on behalf of Rollbar, a provider of artificial intelligence (AI) tools to detect software errors, the report also notes that 88% of developers find traditional error monitoring tools are not meeting expectations.
Daniel Day, vice president of marketing at Rollbar, said the survey makes it apparent that continuing to rely on manual processes to surface errors in code is having a major downstream impact on both DevOps teams, in particular, and the business as a whole.
For example, nearly nine in 10 developers (89%) also noted that undetected errors take a big toll on the business. More than one-fourth (26%) of developers also said that their employers have lost a significant number of users due to errors in software. The same share (26%) said software errors damage their company’s reputation and its ability to attract investments, and nearly a fifth (18%) said that undetected software problems anger their company’s investors.
Nearly a third (32%) of developers said they spend up to 10 hours a week fixing bugs instead of writing code, while 16% said they spend up to 15 hours a week. Another 6% said they have to dedicate up to 20 hours a week fixing bugs instead of writing code.
More than half of developers (55%) said that if they didn’t have to spend so much time fixing bugs, they would have the time to build new features and functionality. Many of these errors are not addressed because current tools require them to manually respond to errors (39%); it takes too long to find all of the details they need to fix bugs and errors (36%); focus on system stability and not enough on code health (31%); make it difficult to detect errors (29%); and have an approach to error aggregation that is either too broad or too narrow (23%).
Nearly two-thirds of developers (62%) said they have found out about errors from users reporting through the application, while a quarter (25%) said that they have heard about errors from users sharing these issues on social media. Another 17% said media coverage clued them in about errors in their software, while more than a fifth (21%) said they heard about them from their CEO.
Nearly a third of the survey group (31%) said that manually responding to errors makes them feel frustrated, while more than a fifth (22%) said they feel overwhelmed when using manual processes to address errors in software. Nearly as many (17%) said it leads to burnout. More than a tenth (12%) said it elicits feelings of resentment, and 7% said it makes them want to quit their jobs.
Nearly two-thirds of all developers said they would rather do an unpleasant activity than fix errors, including pay bills (26%), go to the dentist (21%) and spend time with in-laws (20%).
Rollbar clearly has a vested interest in convincing developers to increase reliance on AI to surface errors in code. The productivity paradox holds that, the more application code developers write, the more time they spend fixing existing code than writing new code. Most developers have a lot better things to do with their time than manually combing through lines of code looking for those errors. In fact, the problem is, many of them simply don’t have the time required to catch all the issues before an application makes it into a production environment.