Don’t Be An Expert In One Coding Language

There was a time about 20 years ago when developers titled their positions or expertise as a language expert. Even today I like to say I’m a Ruby Developer, a Rails Developer, or a Javascript Novice. The thing is all of these are true. An expert in a particular language will tell you they can achieve anything in that language. That is true, so why shouldn’t you stick to your language of choice? The answer lies in the fact that almost nobody creates projects the same.

So you’re a Javascript expert? Congratulations. You can probably land a job as a Node.JS developer or some front-end related position. This is of course assuming you live in a city where Node is widely used. In my hometown, this isn’t the case. Javascript jobs are available in limited supply here and web development companies are looking for PHP and C# knowledge. Your Javascript isn’t useless in this case and your resume might still be impressive, but expect your job search to take longer.

So now let’s assume you’re a PHP expert and web companies in your town are hiring PHP developers. Theoretically you should be fine, but if you aren’t familiar with any front-end development tools like CSS and Bootstrap you’re still going to have a bad time. Even if you’re assigned to work that deals with the back-end only and you think you’re just writing PHP and SQL queries, at some point it needs to connect with the front end and you might be faced with that work at least occasionally. In addition, you might occasionally need to communicate with the server in Javascript. Good luck with that.

The point I’m trying to make is that everyone has different web development practices. Some regions favor certain technologies based upon the industries that are common there. Individual developers also have different backgrounds. A web developer who started in the 1990s might be more comfortable with ASP.NET over a newer technology such as Node.JS. Just the same, PHP, JS, and Ruby are used in different combinations by different people. If you become too much an expert in one but don’t know the basics of the other you are doing yourself a disservice because you won’t be able to fully contribute to those projects when they come your way.

Web development requires knowledge in a wide variety of languages and technologies. The reason for this isn’t because you’ll necessarily be using them all everyday. Rather, you need to be flexible for when different jobs beg for certain technologies to be used for them. One project might involve more CSS edits to a Bootstrap site. Another might involve an AJAX call with Javascript with the results passed into a Ruby On Rails site, or visa versa. Learn to be flexible and you’ll be a better developer and a better student when you’re faced with learning new technologies.

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