Human-Computer Interaction Institute
School of Computer Science, Carnegie Mellon University


The "55M End-User Programmers" Estimate Revisited

Christopher Scaffidi, Mary Shaw, Brad Myers

February 2005

Also appears as Institute for Software Research International
Technical Report CMU-ISRI-05-100


Keywords: End-user software engineering, end-user programming, software usage

In 1995, Boehm predicted that by 2005, there would be "55 million performers" of "end-user programming" in the United States. Examining the original context and method which generated this number reveals that it actually estimates the number of computer users in businesses -- not programmers, per se -- and it assumes constant computer usage rates. This paper extends Boehm s estimate using fresh Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data, including the latest BLS occupational projections (which are for 2012), and a richer estimation 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 will be potential end-user programmers), while over 13 million will describe themselves as programmers. Thus, the potential pool of end-user programmers will probably substantially exceed the population who view themselves as programmers. Each of these estimates, in turn, substantially exceeds the latest BLS projections of fewer than 3 million professional programmers in 2012. Since not all end-users perform the same programming tasks, we surmise that the vast, heterogeneous pool of endusers likely will benefit from a diversity of tools to support their programming activities. Developing such tools efficiently requires a better characterization of what features are valued by each end-user sub-population. To that end, this paper concludes by outlining plans for future research, including creating an abstraction-focused categorization of end-users.

17 pages

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