Being a software developer in 2020

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The attitude to the profession of software developer has changed dramatically in the last 15 years. Though it is no longer an occupation reserved for a few and requiring a degree in something comparable to rocket science, a path to becoming a great developer is still far from being a walk in the park. Luckily, developers managed to graduate from stereotypical reclusive nerds to cool guys behind trending gadgets and apps.

We asked software development company Itransition to discuss where the profession is at the moment, what makes good developers and what is there for IT in the future.

How come developers are still in high demand today?

In the 1990-2000s, productivity increased due to the mainstream introduction of computers and networks. By the end of the 2000s, though, the performance growth factor (equipping workplaces with computers with standard software) was exhausted, and today’s productivity growth is mostly related to cloud infrastructures and connected devices.

The last decade was the decade of software development and the shift to the cloud. As programming skills are required in more and more verticals, the global economy is in constant need of developers. What’s more, driven by market globalization, new opportunities were found beyond Silicone Valley, allowing for delivering cheaper but no less high-quality products.

What’s more, the persistently growing need in entertainment translates to demand for relevant experts in the media and gaming industries, as well as apps and games available on different devices, from mobile to video game consoles.

To add to the mix, areas that have traditionally lagged in technology adoption such as healthcare and insurance are catching up and getting more connected, creating more demand for software development experts.

What’s different for developers today?

A few decades ago, developers would code in almost complete isolation from their clients. The prerogative of communication belonged to execs, project managers, and sales representatives. Now everything is different. Ongoing communication with the client is a common practice for developers. Consequently, outside of the English-speaking world, it’s simply not possible to survive without a working knowledge of English, both for communication and professional development. In line with this, a standard social perk at any IT company is English language courses.

Another big change is the attitude of young people and their parents to the profession. Nowadays, parents want their kids to code, as opposed to 15 years ago when there wasn’t so much buzz around programming. To see if the kids have a knack for it, many IT companies run educational programs for children preparing them for programming competitions as well as shaping a clearer view of their professional future. Sometimes, it’s possible to spot talents early on and try to help them turn into great developers.

What are the trending programming languages right now?

Each language has its own field of use, and its popularity may go up or down depending on many factors. To stay afloat no matter which way the winds blow, developers should keep an open mind and pursue new skills.

If a developer is just starting out and wants to test his or her abilities, Python is a popular easy-to-learn language with clean, well-structured code. Java remains relevant as half of the programmers in the world have it under their belt. At the same time, Kotlin has become one of the most highly paid languages once Google announced it as the official language for Android app development. Microsoft has been working hard to make C# and .NET develop even faster than Java in recent years. And finally, Ruby and JavaScript are still actively evolving. Professionals who place their bets on these top languages will remain in demand.

It’s also important to remember that whatever Apple presents to the world turns out to be a trend. First, it was Objective-C, but it was replaced by Swift as the main language for Apple-related apps.

As for the industry disruptors, developers should pay attention to Go, a still young system-level programming language that is predicted to replace Java and C++. Additionally, Go is a great choice for developing cloud infrastructures.

Language popularity varies depending on geographical location as well, so this is definitely a factor to consider. If we talk about Silicon Valley, C# and .NET are not in much favor there. Java and C++ secured top places, while the above-mentioned Python and JavaScript enjoy steady demand.

When it comes to PHP, developers need to be careful. It’s easy to learn with a very low entry threshold; at the same time, it is expressive and powerful enough for writing large and complex systems. But here’s a catch: the low entry threshold has led to language vulgarization. PHP doesn’t contain mechanisms to prevent developers from writing bad programs. It means that it’s quite easy to code a mediocre program in PHP while a good one requires skills of a much higher level.

Is the market going to be oversaturated with developers?

There’s little chance for it to happen, not for the next decade, at least. With more and more disruptive technologies, the demand will only increase, particularly for new skills connected to big data, machine learning, IoT, you name it.

Consequently, developers should constantly evolve. Those people who just got their degree and gave up on their further development won’t be able to stay afloat. There is certainly a ceiling to hit in perfecting professional skills, but most people never reach it. Not everyone is wise enough to realize that the goal is not just working for someone else but working for yourself. A true professional is always learning, while a true leader pushes others to learn, making it a win-win situation for everyone.

Invest in the future

It’s clear that the world can’t operate without developers, and this profession will be constantly evolving to cover fast-changing and elaborate needs. When expanding your team, try to attract developers who are never satisfied with the level of their competence and who are thirsty for new knowledge and skills. On your part, you should provide favorable conditions for continuous professional growth even when the ROI cannot be predicted.


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