Less development please, we're British and we have coronavirus

decline graph

New research from DevOps automation specialist Sonatype has discovered that software development activity in the UK decreased by 28 percent since February.

However, the UK position contrasts with some other countries where development activity has continued to grow in the midst of the pandemic. Notably, this includes the United States with a six percent increase and Germany with a 12 percent increase since January 2020.

Sonatype's research measured open source software download requests by country from The Central Repository during a 15-month period from January 2019 to April 2020. The Central Repository -- or Maven Central -- is the world's largest public directory of open source software components, which managed over 246 billion download requests last year alone, serving the needs of more than 10 million developers. Open source software components play a fundamental role in enterprise software development, making up 80-90 percent of the code developers build into modern applications.

Development activity in China at the virus' peak dropped by 43 percent. Pointing to the hope of a similar V-shaped recovery in the UK, download requests originating from China have since rebounded from a 16-week downturn, although they remain 18 percent below their March 2019 levels.

"Given the disruption that COVID-19 has caused to businesses worldwide, it seemed inevitable that the pandemic would impact the software development industry in some way, shape, or form," says Wayne Jackson, CEO of Sonatype. "In the UK, as open source software downloads continue to decline during lockdown, the developer community should be encouraged by the resilience of developers in the US and Germany, which have demonstrated that the nature of the software development profession can be conducive to remote working and maintaining innovation."

Elsewhere Italy has experienced a 52 percent increase in developer activity since early January 2019 and a 16 percent increase since January 2020. Spain's decline mirrors the UK's, with the country witnessing a 28 percent drop from March 7th to its April 11th low, following a 50 percent increase in activity from early 2019 through early 2020. India has seen an 18 percent decline in developer activity between February 8th and April 18th, following an 82 percent increase in activity from early 2019 through early 2020.

"While no one wanted to see such a broad decline, prior to the crisis, software development activity in the UK had increased by 78 percent from January 2019 -- February 2020," Jackson adds. "This highlights the growing momentum for software innovation in the UK market, which we anticipate will ramp up again in the coming weeks. In China, which suffered a similar decline, we are starting to see the pattern of a V-shaped recovery begin to emerge, and we hope to see a similar trend in the UK as lockdown eases."

You can read more on the Sonatype blog.

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