Never Stop Learning

I’m sure that this post applies to most people, and in terms of software development it is always applicable.

When it comes to software development if you are not continuously learning then you are irrelevant.

Learning is tiring.

I have not worked in any other career path where the obviousness of this was any more clear. The tech industry is changing incredibly quickly and in order to stay valuable and relevant in your field then you must continue to learn. All you need to do in order to see the obviousness of this is look at the trends of the last ten years.

Everything is moving to the web. Previously it was very valuable to have web skills — HTML, XHTML, CSS, JavaScript, ASP, etc. Now it is crucial to have web skills. JavaScript, JQuery, Ruby on Rails, Django, ASP.NET, REST, Web APIs, etc. Everything is moving this way and if you don’t spend the time to learn the frameworks and patterns then you are going to be left behind.

Just look at Windows 8 as an example — desktop applications can now be created using HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. This is the way things are going. It would not be surprising if all major operating systems allowed apps to be created and run this way. This is saying goodbye to a separate virtual machine and instead having the interpretation of dynamic languages done by the OS. The potential for portability of apps is incredible. Developing one app could allow you to publish it across all OSes and the web.

Smartphone apps are another area that didn’t exist too long ago but are now valuable skills. Just look at the number of smartphone apps that are being developed. There are frameworks to allow you to publish and port to multiple platforms, but you still need to learn those skills in order to be considered for that work.

How do you get those skills?

You’ll likely need to learn them on your own, and on your own time. If they aren’t related to your current position or projects then don’t expect your employer to be too happy with you learning these skills on their dime. That’s another discussion entirely.

Everyone can benefit from learning though, not just software development. Take finance for instance, new rules and regulations are appearing all the time, and if you aren’t on top of them then that is a weak area on your resume. Studies have also shown that learning keeps the mind active and will benefit you in old age as well.

If you are interested in learning new things, then it’s may not even cost you anything. Sites are now offering free online courses provided by prestigious universities. I’d recommend you check out Coursera. They’ve got courses from Math and Computer Science, to Philosophy, History, and Finance. There’s bound to be something for everyone.


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