Are There Really Any “Web Developers"

Seems like a strange question, but it’s been a topic of discussion in different forms within Microsoft recently.  It might not be as much fun as trying to make them a unique audience, but it might be a more realistic view of the fact that the web has permeated development to the point where it’s no longer a unique attribute but rather a common element of what is considered core to development today.


Many people at Microsoft are looking to find ways to segment the “Web” developers, to make sure they are doing a great job of having the right conversations with these folks.   The thing I always ask is who is or isn’t a web developer.   Is an ISV working on web development a web developer, is a corporate developer working on an intranet project, or internet, a web developer? Is a college student editing their Facebook site a web developer? Is a “Start-up, Web 2.0, SaaS” developer a web developer?   So it might be hard to find “web developers” if we look by organization type. 


We could of course look by technology, but then is someone who uses ASP.NET or PHP a web developer, what about Silverlight or Flash, IIS, Ajax, .NET, Ruby, Expression, Sharepoint Web Designer, SQL with spatial data for a web site, etc.   Guess it might be hard to look by technology. 


I don’t think size of business or focus of business works either.  My view is if you can’t look by technology, and you can’t look by organization, and you can’t look by business size or type , that it might be hard to find “web developers” as a unique audience, so in the end there are no web developers.  There are just developers, and the web is just one variant on the tools developers use and platform technologies they support.