Published 9 July 2020

DC Labs presents the world's first study of how software engineers use technology meetups

Researchers from Digital Creativity Labs have presented the findings of the world’s first study of informal technology meetups.

In recent years, local meetings organised by and for technology professionals have grown rapidly in size, reach and scope.

Despite the size of this movement, very little research has been conducted to examine the scope and impact of these communities, the benefits that technology professionals gain from attending meetings, or how the growth of such communities might affect software engineering practice.

Although several platforms exist to support the formation of local groups, researchers limited their study to groups that use Meetup.com only, as the best-known platform. Meetup.com is estimated to support more than 3,500 local groups in the UK alone, attended by 1.6 million UK-based members across 263 locations.

The report reveals that for the software professionals who took part in the study, informal meetings provide resources or information that are not available via other means, including online resources.

The top three motivations for attending meetings were to learn new things, develop new skills and stay up to date. Findings also indicate that local meetups are an important source for disseminating news and forming a network for support, with almost all study participants acquiring information from a meeting that they later followed up on and a majority obtaining knowledge that allowed them to make improvements to their practice.

The study also revels that technology meetups might be a particularly useful resource for professionals working alone or in very small technical teams, where there are fewer internal opportunities to discuss specialist solutions or technologies with experienced peers.

Dr Claire Ingram presented the report at the 2020 International Conference on Software Enginering (ICSE) which was held online from 6 to 11 July 2020. This year, all presentations and keynotes were made available for free on the ICSE YouTube channel for the first time. 

The conference covers many areas of general software engineering, from developer learning and code comprehension, to formal methods, lifecycle methodologies, V&V, mining code repositories, and software engineering education.  

Click here to read the full report.