Thursday, 26 June 2008

What's the most active OTN forum?: Apex vs JDev vs Forms wars continued

(Disclaimers up front for those who don't regularly read my blog: I'm a JDeveloper advocate)

Recently in attending the ODTUG conference, during the ADF vs Apex session run by Dimitri and Lucas, a comment was made that the Apex OTN forums are the most active OTN forums of all.

This comment surprised me, because I would have thought before Apex, or even JDeveloper (where my heart lies), the database and SQL/PL-SQL forums would be more popular.

The OTN Forums running within Jive provide an easy way to verify the statistics of each of the forums, so I thought I'd publish the top forums to verify the comment from above. I gathered the following statistics on the 26/6/2008 via the following top level OTN page. I've only included forums that have had over 1 million views:

(Note the Thread Response Ratio calculation is my own based on the formula (messages – threads) / threads, on the assumption that messages includes both original thread message and answers. This may be a bogus calculation based on my assumptions so don't read too much into it; I just thought it would be an interesting number)

Database – General
Views: 3,997,367
Threads/Messages: 78,690/384,365
Thread Response Ratio: 3.88

Views: 4,163,007
Threads/Messages: 69,220/374,638
Thread Response Ratio: 4.41

Application Express
Views: 3,069,147
Threads/Messages: 33,886/158,752
Thread Response Ratio: 3.68

Views: 2,322,767
Threads/Messages: 55,191/182,215
Thread Response Ratio: 2.3

Views: 2,286,956
Threads/Messages: 50,765/182,155
Thread Response Ratio: 2.58

Now there is the famous quote "lies, damned lies, and statistics" that we must keep in mind when analysing the above numbers; we shouldn't read too much into the figures. For instance we don't know when the forums started nor the statistics were started. However I think it can be clearly said that that Database and SQL/PL-SQL forums win hands down for views, threads and messages over all other forums for the current statistics.

In revisiting the ODTUG comment about Apex having the most active community derived from the OTN forum statistics, the comment was made in context of the Apex vs JDev ODTUG session. As such let's address the comment context with the OTN statistics at hand.

Looking at the numbers for the 2 relating forums for Apex and JDev, there is no clear winner. Apex has higher views than JDev, but has less threads and messages. Neither is top or bottom if you take all 3 statistics on board. So I disagree with the original comment that Apex is the leader. I think the point to make is that they are *both* very active forums, in the top 5 forums for OTN. This shows not only is the database an active area within Oracle's arena, but so are *both* Apex and JDeveloper. That's great news for the Oracle community at large.

And I think the second point to make, drawing the conclusion only from the OTN forums statistics and not looking elsewhere on the internet and user groups, the point to make is Apex is not the only tool with great community support, JDev has great support too, and so does Forms. The fact that the Apex advocates say Apex has great community support doesn't mean by inference JDev and Forms have poor community support. The OTN statistics show all are very active areas with many readers (views), many posters asking questions (threads) and many people posting answers (messages).

Caveat: Obviously community support goes beyond just the OTN forums, and I can rave on about what's happening in the JDev community as much as other technical arenas can, but for this blog post I'm focusing on the OTN forums for the bounds of the discussion.

As a third point, moving off the Oracle technology wars, the amount of activity on the OTN forums should show to non-proprietary software advocates (ie. open-source fans), that the proprietary software market has just an active community as the internet based open-source corners. Anybody that argues the big problem with software from big vendors is the locked-in black-box approach is underestimating the IT community at large in collaborating to solve common issues. Such large amount of readers and posters is a huge movement that shouldn't be discounted. And the fact that Oracle hosts these forums and Oracle employees actively participate shows a company that pays attention to its customer base.

As a final side note, these are the stats for SQL Developer:

SQL Developer
View: 685,297
Threads/Messages: 5,144/24,156
Thread Response Ratio: 3.69

Though the Threads/Messages aren't that high, the view count certainly is getting up there. Not bad for a relatively new tool.


Dimitri Gielis said...

Hi Chris,

Nice article.

Just a small thing, I didn't say APEX was the most popular one, but the second most popular (I thought after the database)... but it looks we are third ;-)

And I agree, the other forums also have a good community, but I wanted to make a statement that even though APEX is seen as something "small" by some persons, there's already a big community arround it.

It would be interesting to know when the forums started, but I'm not sure we can get that info.

Great research,

Chris Muir said...

Hi Dimitri

I understand your point that you wanted to highlight that "even though APEX is seen as something "small" by some persons, there's already a big community arround it." True enough. However the unintended inference of your comment was that the JDev community is smaller, which is also not correct, which I wanted to highlight ;)

Happy Apexing!