You Can’t Get Comfortable in Web Development Anymore
Rey Bango

I think there are several things at play here. There’s the simple fact that we’re being asked to build much more complex systems now than we were five years ago: responsive, integrated, reactive, connected systems that need to fit a world where users expect a lot more of the web (and of mobile applications). That means we need to master a lot of new skills as a baseline, just to compete.

Then there’s the issue that we all need to continually learn new things. For a lot of developers, that just wasn’t true in their field of work before: they could learn a core set of skills / tech and just keep building the same stuff over and over. Yet we’ve had books like “Pragmatic Programmer” give the advice to learn a new language every year and, for those who’ve heeded that advice, the JavaScript world doesn’t seem so daunting. Continual learning and self-improvement is a good thing. Or it should be.

Then we have the final issue: we’re all still new at this, the new more complex world. We don’t have the answers yet, so we’re experimenting a lot, trying to find better tools. Some trends are starting to appear and become the new baseline. What’s bleeding edge today may become tomorrow’s mainstream.

I’ve been writing software for about two thirds of my life now. I got started with Functional Programming and CSP (which we see today in Go’s channels and Clojure’s core.async library). But OOP went mainstream instead and I had to learn that to stay employable. We see a lot of compile-to-JavaScript options now and to me that makes perfect sense as we try to leverage abstractions that allow us to build more complex solutions faster. FP and concurrency are becoming mainstream. This is new to some folks but not others. I think there’s no real escape from learning a lot of these basic underpinnings — it’s more a matter of what order you learn them and how long you can be a software developer without having had to so far. In some ways, the web development world is just relearning a lot of things that previous generations of software developers already knew — because the web used to be so simple that “anyone” could be a programmer. Welcome to the new “normal”, I guess…

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