Vent Your Frustration in the MDN Developer and Designer Survey
Written by Ian Elliot   
Thursday, 18 July 2019

What are your bugbears about developing for the web? Let Mozilla be your agony aunt and express your frustrations in the hope that browser vendors and WC3 will take notice of the MDN Developer and Designer Survey.

Intended as an annual opportunity for web developers and designers to provide their opinions, this is the first edition of a survey aimed at anybody who create sites or services using HTML, CSS and/or JavaScript. The data collected will be shared on MDN as an annual report and it is hoped that its insights will help MDN to: 

  • Understand and prioritize the needs of web developers and designers
  • Understand how browser vendors like Mozilla, Google, Microsoft, and Samsung should prioritize feature development to address these needs
  • Set a baseline to evaluate how your needs change year over year

The survey, which was designed in collaboration with the above -mentioned browser vendors  and the W3C, takes around 20 minutes to complete.

One of the major concerns of the survey is to understand what things cause frustration when we are developing for the web. To do this it uses the technique of showing 12 sets of 4 items (around 20 items in total as many of them are repeated) and you have to identify the least frustrating and most frustrating:


Asking you to consider a score of the pain points that developers and designers routinely face - having to cope with legacy browsers, making stuff look and work the same across browsers, locating bugs, pinpointing performance issues, integrating with third parties for authentication, keeping up with the burgeoning number of tools and frameworks, front end tests, end-to-end tests and so - does bring home the issues we have to put up with. For me the quality of documentation is one the one hand (as a working developer) my recurring headache and on the other (as a technical writer and author) a gap I can help to plug.

After investigating frustration, the survey moves on to ask:

How would you rate your overall satisfaction with the Web, as a platform and set of tools to enable you to build what you need or want?

It has the familiar 5-point scale going from Very Dissatisfied through Dissatisfied and Neither Satisfied nor Dissatisfied to Satisfied and Very Satisfied. Having spent the previous five minutes fuming about documentation, and not wanting to sit on the fence indecisively, I found myself veering to the negative end of the scale: 


Another question that only served to intensify my dissatifaction was about new web technology:

When a new web technology relevant to your needs becomes available, what are the main barriers to adoption? Select all that apply.

  • Broad interoperability across browsers

  • Support for legacy browsers

  • Tooling support and dev ecosystem

  • Documentation and training

  • Finding out about the new technology

Tempted to tick all those points, I realized that "Finding out about the new technology" was what makes it worthwhile being a contributor to I Programmer. And I do wonder if the survey attracts anybody willing to choose 

  • None of the Above

Once you've answered a question about which browsers you target you are asked to rank then according to which cause the most issues as a drag and drop exercise: 


Much as I appreciate the importance of Firefox and its role as a competitor to Chrome to keep Google in some sort of check, I had to rank Chrome as best - although there was no hesitation in nominating Internet Explorer as worst - something which Microsoft appears to have recognized as it too now prefers Chrome!

One open-ended question asks you:

What are things that you would like to be able to do on the Web but lack web platform features to do?

There really isn't enough space to say much but I jotted down "write desktop apps" and added "use the machine's filing system with user's permission" and "easy tools for WebAssembly". Towards the end of the survey there's another chance to vent frustration with four very similar questions that ask for the biggest pain points when developing with JavaScript, HTML, CSS and WebAssembly:


It looks churlish to tick more than three or four- after all it does ask for "biggest" but on the other hand we do need to be honest and let our feelings be known. The more developers participate in the survey the more ammunition with be gathered to take the struggle forward. And perhaps as well as complain we should be motivated to contribute to the projects we criticize - they are all open source at the end of the day.



More Information

MDN Developer and Designer Survey

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Last Updated ( Thursday, 18 July 2019 )