Which language/skills/frameworks are worth investing your time and energy right now?

The investment you make in your skills also follows a similar pattern to financial investments, i.e. high risk equals high reward.

In 1995, if you had told me to invest my skills in this little known language called Java by a small company called Sun Microsystems, I’d have rebutted you saying you’ve probably had a few drinks too many! Who would have thought Java will be used to write just about anything (including mobile apps) some day?

On the other hand, had the “risk taker” in me had jumped on the Blackberry development in 2010 or Windows Phone development in 2015, his career would have failed quite miserably!

Similarly, had the “risk averse” buddy chosen something like COBOL or C in 1995, he’d probably still have a low paying job to stick with for several years to come.

From that perspective, what do you make of the current technologies like Java and Python and PHP? And what about all the JavaScript frameworks (React, Vue, etc.) and the Node/NPM ecosystem? Where do you see all of this going?

While in general it might be true that high risk comes high reward, in programming languages it may also be just a dead end. You mention several the of the success stories (like Java). I would argue another approach… hedging your bet, is a better way to go.

If you see a new language or technology that you think is fun and would stretch your mind, invest your time in it. Not for any kind of reward of getting a job using it, but for the enjoyment. When it comes to investing in your skills for the job market, like financial investments, it is better to wait and see what the market is doing, do a little research and make your bet in something more sound.

Computer programming languages come and go like the seasons and are cyclical like the seasons too. A few languages last through time (Java, C/C++, Python etc.) but most come and go. Play with languages in season if you like, invest in languages that endure and when a language starts going mainstream and lasts a bit of time, then sure grow with it.

Now, as for your example… the buddy who chose COBOL or C in 1995, he probably would actually be pretty rich right now. The fact that many legacy financial systems can still be using COBOL, finding devs that know that language is in high demand due to scarcity. As for C, C is very much in demand for driver development and low level “bare metal” applications.

But I digress… Java, Python and PHP are all languages that have endured and will continue to endure. Invest in those all you want. They are part of the “Fortune 500 of programming”. JavaScript frameworks however are often seasonal. The language endures, the frameworks do not. React is one of the longest lasting I have seen so worth taking a look, but the rest will probably fade away over the next decade to be replaced by better frameworks and ideas. That is just how it works… which is fine.

As for where all this is going, don’t look at the languages or frameworks, look at the technology trends. Big Data, AI, facial recognition, quantum computing, Internet of things etc. are going to dictate what stays and goes. Python is a big player in many of these fields and so is Java.

Just like the financial system, look at what people use, buy and need. Then invest your skills in the things that help you deliver those… not fad stocks. :slight_smile:


Actually when I see COBOL being discussed as a possible career I have read that COBOL positions pay less. It is unfortunate if that is true.

I knew it was worthwhile back then. Someone else that was in a position to pursue the opportunity laughed at me when I said they were probably using Java to do something that impressed them.

I think PHP is more of a fad. I think it will slowly dwindle. Others will disagree but you are asking for my opinion. Pursue it if you want the work but I assume there are better opportunities available.

Python is another language that was not designed well. It is very popular but it might also dwindle in popularity.

C++ has been around for years. Using Webassembly, it is becoming available for use for websites. It is an international standard language actively being developed by a committee. It will benefit with something like Webassembly as part of the language, like Java and C# has.

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