Software Development in the UK Falls 28% in Wake of COVID-19, Sonatype Research Reveals


Findings in contrast to US and Germany, which saw accelerated growth. China recovery indicates UK rebound is imminent

Fulton, MD – May 21, 2020 — The UK is experiencing a significant decline in software development activity during the COVID-19 crisis, according to data today released by Sonatype, the company that scales DevOps through open source governance and software supply chain automation. After analysing software development activity in seven key regions – the UK, the US, China, Germany, Spain, Italy, and India – Sonatype discovered that software development activity in the UK decreased by 28% since February 29th 2020. However despite this decline, the recent recovery of Chinese software development indicates that the UK is likely to rebound swiftly.

Sonatype’s research measured open source software download requests by country from The Central Repository during a 15-month period from January 2019 to April 2020. The Central Repository – or Maven Central – is the world’s largest public directory of open source software components, which managed over 226 billion download requests last year alone, serving the needs of more than 10 million developers. Open source software components play a fundamental role in enterprise software development, making up 80-90% of the code developers build into modern applications.

Analysis of global software download request volume shows the decline of software development activity in the UK contrasts from other nations, where development activity has continued to grow in the midst of the pandemic. Notably, this includes the United States (6% increase) and Germany (12% increase) as measured since January 2020.

Patterns in the UK data are most comparable to the downturn of software development activity experienced in China, which at its peak dropped by 43%. Pointing to the hope of a similar V-shaped recovery in the UK, download requests originating from China have since rebounded from a 16-week downturn, although they remain 18% below their March 2019 levels.

“Given the disruption that COVID-19 has caused to businesses worldwide, it seemed inevitable that the pandemic would impact the software development industry in some way, shape, or form,” said Wayne Jackson, CEO of Sonatype. “In the UK, as open source software downloads continue to decline during lockdown, the developer community should be encouraged by the resilience of developers in the US and Germany, which have demonstrated that the nature of the software development profession can be conducive to remote working and maintaining innovation.”

“While no one wanted to see such a broad decline, prior to the crisis, software development activity in the UK had increased by 78% from January 2019 – February 2020,” Jackson continued. “This highlights the growing momentum for software innovation in the UK market, which we anticipate will ramp up again in the coming weeks. In China, which suffered a similar decline, we are starting to see the pattern of a V-shaped recovery begin to emerge, and we hope to see a similar trend in the UK as lockdown eases.”

Other findings from Sonatype’s research show:

  • Italy experienced a 52% increase in developer activity since early January 2019 and a 16% increase since January 2020
  • Spain’s decline ties with the UK’s, with the country witnessing a 28% drop from March 7th to its April 11th low, following a 50% increase in activity from early 2019 through early 2020
  • India saw an 18% decline in developer activity between February 8th and April 18th, following an 82% increase in activity from early 2019 through early 2020

About Sonatype

Sonatype is the leader in software supply chain automation technology with more than 350 employees, over 1,000 enterprise customers, and is trusted by more than 10 million software developers. Sonatype’s Nexus platform enables DevOps teams and developers to automatically integrate security at every stage of the modern development pipeline by combining in-depth component intelligence with real-time remediation guidance. For more information, please visit, or connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn.

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