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Our organizations embrace multiple platforms as a way to maximize product usage and to offset the high cost of software development. However, this results in many difficult challenges for software developers. In our part of the development process, the design and implementation of user assistance components is dictated largely by the nature and number of different platforms we need to support.

In our survey we asked respondents to identify all of the platforms their products run on. The dominant platform is the most recent versions of Windows (1), including 10, 8, 7, Vista with 89%. A significant number of respondents (42%) support earlier versions of Windows (2), including XP and Server 2003/2008. Far fewer, 17%, support the older versions of Windows (3) (2000, NT, and earlier).

The World Wide Web (76%) is recognized as the second biggest platform for respondents supporting it. Most software organizations have either migrated there software to only run on the web or have a robust web-based version of their product. Server-side deployment of user assistance will continue to be an important issue for us. In our survey we distinguished between Web applications running on the Internet and those running on intranets/extranets. The latter category is supported by 50% of the respondents.

The OS cousins of UNIX (20%) and Linux (34%) continue to be important. UNIX includes Solaris, HP-UX, and AIX variants. Java sits at (24%) It is now a core component for Android applications.

Platform Table

System Response
Windows (1) (v.10, 8, 7, Vista) 89%
World Wide Web 76%
intranets/extranets 50%
Mobile 48%
Windows (2) (XP, Server 2003/2008) 42%
Linux 34%
Mac OS 32%
Java 24%
UNIX 20%
Windows (3) (2000, NT, and earlier) 17%
IBM mainframe (System Z) 5%
OPEN VMS 5%

 

The broad label of Mobile is now supported by a healthy, growing 48% of respondents . “Mobile” represents a variety of operating systems within this category, including iPhone, Android, and others. See the breakdown below.

Mac OS X has risen from 6% a few years ago to 32% in the current survey. The influence of iPads/iPhones has definitely increased the strength of the platform.

IBM mainframe (5%) and Open VMS (5%) round out the chart.

We asked respondents to list other platforms that they support. These included: ABAP, Citrix, VMWare, Openstack, WindRiver, in-house GIS applications used with handheld devices, proprietary qms, QNX, Samsung Tizen, Aliyun YunOS, Amazon Android video players, all hardware devices (desktop, set-top, SmartTVs, phones, tablets), VMware, Windows Server 2012.

Mobile Table

The Mobile Table has changed a bit to represent the latest array of popular formats. Apple’s iOS is at the top with 70% of respondents indicating they support it. Android and Web apps follow closely in second place with 64% supporting those platforms. The item for Windows 10 Mobile (38%) replaces Windows Phone. The new format maps to Microsoft’s initiative to have apps work across different device types. Another new item, the Android Open Source Project (11%), is the open-source equivalent of Google’s version of Android. Blackberry dropped a bit to 8%.  and it is difficult see that platform increasing beyond that. The last item, Tizen (3%), is an open-source mobile variant of Linux.

System Response
iOS 70%
Android 64%
Web apps (HTML/CSS) 64%
Windows 10 Mobile 38%
Android Open Source Project 11%
Blackberry 8%
Tizen 3%

 

Framework Table

This category represents significant standards and/or processes that have become de facto platforms. Agile (80%) has definitely become a major player in the software industry. For future surveys, we may do a breakdown on the types of Agile development. The .NET framework from Microsoft continues to be well-supported in the industry. DITA (27%) has maintained much the same position over the past several years. Organizations tend to either embrace DITA fully and with significant resources or not at all. Most of the other frameworks in the table will probably continue to be of interest to a dedicated portion of developers.

We asked respondents to list other frameworks they use. These included: ADDIE, Aris, CCMS, Pareto, Home-grown DTD, Word to PDFs, Jekyll, Markdown, Mallard, AsciiDoc, Markdown, Microsoft IIS, web services, crowd-sourcing, own XML standard, PyCharm, Git, Confluence, Drupal, S1000D, Sphinx/LaTeX
Trisoft CCMS.

Framework Response
Agile software development 80%
Microsoft .NET 31%
Darwin Information Typing Architecture (DITA) 27%
Information Mapping 17%
Eclipse 18%
Simplified English (ASD-STE) 10%
ISO 9000 8%
DocBook 5%
Adobe Integrated Runtime (AIR) 3%
Oracle ADF 2%