Hawaiʻi's Technology Community

The Changing Face of Software Development in Japan

Our Night Out with Heroku Japan & Friends

During our trip to Japan last month we got to enjoy an evening out with the Heroku team. We've enjoyed using their platform for years across many projects, so it was good fun to chat with the Japan team as well as the Herokai visiting from the US. As most of you know, Heroku is a Platform as a Service (PaaS) provider known for making deployment and management of Ruby on Rails apps dead simple. Recently they added support for a slew of new languages and frameworks including Node.js, Python, Java, Clojure and Scala.

Heroku put together a group of local developers who use their platform for an impromptu social. Many thanks to Ayumu Aizawa of Heroku Japan for organizing the evening and giving us an opportunity to learn about recent trends in the Tokyo development community. I was surprised to find that about half of those in attendance were developing on platforms other than Rails and, more generally, Ruby. Scala, Clojure and other JVM-targeted languages were well represented. Node.js was clearly on the rise. I don't know if the group was representative, but if it was, that indicates a very interesting trend in the country where Ruby was invented and first popularized. It was clear that Ruby has continued to gain momentum in many areas where Java once ruled, but Node.js and Scala apps are popping up at a surprising rate.

Another group that seems to be on the rise: women techies. A decade ago, during the time I lived and worked in Japan, women in the programming field were about as common as unicorns. I always found this surprising in a country that leads in so many other areas. In contrast, I knew numerous women in China happily working in the software industry. Mika was the first techie woman I met in Japan despite the fact I'd worked with hundreds of developers and systems engineers. For the first time, Mika had company, which was great to see. Two of the women were developers with degrees in computer science. That is a healthy trend.

It will be interesting to see where Japan's software development industry is ten years from now. Perhaps development teams will be filled with women happily coding away on their cloud-based Node.js and Scala projects!


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Comment by Daniel Leuck on April 17, 2013 at 10:44pm

@Chris - Fixed!

Comment by Christopher Kobayashi on April 17, 2013 at 6:30pm

During my 8 years in Tokyo I remember joining an ongoing project, which was developed in Ruby on Rails. The Japanese developers were complaining about how model name pluralization is confusing, because it depends on the association and direction (i.e., hotel has many rooms, room belongs to a hotel). These guys were pretty hard core Ruby coders, but I guess the default convention didn't make sense to them.

I wonder if this plays a role into why Rails doesn't seem to be as popular there...

Comment by Christopher Kobayashi on April 17, 2013 at 6:17pm

Herokuians... Should be Herokai :)


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