Application developers working with OpenStack know what they want. Most are looking for clear, accurate documentation with emphasis on detailed working examples so they can get their jobs done.

That’s one of key takeaways from the fifth consecutive survey conducted by the User Committee.The User Committee sounds out people working with OpenStack ahead of each Summit. These results are from voluntary surveys answered online that were created or updated between March 9, 2015 - April 16, 2015. The opt-in survey is not an exhaustive catalog of OpenStack deployments, but provides valuable intelligence on usage patterns and technology decisions in real-world deployments.

This the third in a three-part series analyzing the most recent OpenStack user survey focusing on app developer insights. Part one focused on demographics and business drivers, part two provided an analysis of deployment details, including project usage, size trends and tools.

App Dev Insights

Some 230 app developers were asked for their feedback about OpenStack, starting with the software development kit (SDK) popularity contest. This is important, since the documentation team can use the information to prioritize code examples. It’s worth noting that the libcloud was unintentionally omitted on the last survey. This has been fixed, and it has since shot to the top SDK usage position after the OpenStack clients, closely followed by jClouds (no change,) fog (no change) and a myriad of other toolkits not listed.

The SDK developers appear to have done well in attracting users - the number of respondents who wrote their own code to talk to the REST API directly dropped by about 7 percent compared to last survey.

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When it comes to documentation, OpenStack app developers want it all. They don’t really mind if it’s concise or not, but they want accurate, complete, clear, and searchable documentation with detailed working examples. Recently, the introductory tutorial which also ranked highly was completed for the libcloud API, and the documentation team has already identified the need for major changes to the API specification, so this should improve over the next cycle.

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When asked what they struggled with when working with applications on OpenStack, users first noted general issues with cloud applications, for example:

Interacting with other clouds

Last survey, for the first time, we asked application developers whether they were using other clouds with their OpenStack deployment. Few answered, but of those who did, 80 percent were using another public cloud.

This time, this optional question was moved to a more prominent section and received many more results, but likely tilted away from that application developer-centric audience. With this larger set, it’s still clear that hybrid cloud is gaining traction: 35 percent of respondents noted the use of another cloud.

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Improvement underway

When asked what they struggled with when working with applications on OpenStack, users first noted general issues with cloud applications, for example:

"Educating enterprise developers to design cloud-aware architecture. Migrating traditional workloads into cloud-native OpenStack environment."

This was closely followed by annoyances with the various OpenStack APIs and the project split, for example:

"Code is not well factored. Too many overlapped functions between OpenStack projects. Communication does not use well-defined structured object but via dictionary. Functions and classes do not have documented schema at all (as most of python projects). Some API (e.g. Sahara) are not well defined."

To improve the developer experience of API users by converging the OpenStack API to a consistent and pragmatic RESTful design, the API working group creates guidelines that all OpenStack projects should follow for new development, and promotes convergence of new APIs and future versions of existing APIs.

See the use of other OpenStack clouds rising - something previously hoped for with more public clouds in the marketplace.

The OpenStack User Committee is led by Subbu Allamaraju, Tim Bell and Jon Proulx. This core group provides oversight and guidance to a number of working groups that target specific areas for improvement.