The Year of the Developer

February 17, 2012 at 11:39 am | Posted in Technical Tips, Vendor news | Leave a comment
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Did I get your attention? I hope so, but let’s be honest: it’s been the Year of the Developer since 1954. As wonderful as it is to have the latest gadget goodness in your hand, without developers, that gadget does a whole lot of nothing. Arguably, the adoption of shiny devices and powerful operating systems is directly proportional to the software that runs on it.

IBM 704 mainframe that uses FORTRAN

IBM 704 mainframe that uses FORTRAN

But I do have a more salient point beyond giving the developer community a pat on the back.

Development in 2012

What does the future look like? Better yet, which skills should you focus on in the upcoming year? Justin at TechRepublic actually beat me to the punch on this one, so rather than rehash the whole article, I’ll just throw in my two cents.

Mobile Development

This one should be fairly obvious. What isn’t so obvious is how fragmented the mobile field really is. An iPhone, Android, and Blackberry device all do very similar things and contain very similar components and UIs, but the back-end development for these platforms is entirely different.  Let’s not even discuss the form factor differences between these smartphones and their tablet cousins.

I predict the ascendance of uniform development kits like Red Foundry and  PhoneGap/PhoneGapBuild to level the playing field. PhoneGap, in particular, leverages Web development skills such as jQuery and HTML5.


As familiar as I am with various database caching and querying methods, this one threw me for a loop. I agree that relational databases and SQL are fading in relevance, but these new systems are not conceptually different beasts and actually harken back to the flat-file and directory-style query days.

Fear not, SQL developer; basic syntax will remain intact, although you might need to learn some different flavors as NoSQL grows in popularity.

Unit Testing

When was this not a development skill? If you haven’t realized the importance of unit testing yet, then your users must be the most patient beings on the planet. Unit testing is a must this year, just as it was last year and will be in every year to come.

Python or Ruby

Honestly, I weigh heavily on Python. Python is one of the most powerful interpretative language on the planet. With the inordinate growth of Linux and cloud administration, expect Python programming to become even more ubiquitious.

HTML5 and jQuery

This is the foundation of the new Web experience. After all, even Adobe is abandoning the Flash Player in favor of the UI support in HTML5. And going back to mobile devices, these two technologies are critical for writing code once and porting it everywhere.

Windows 8 (but really, the Kinect)

I am unsure that touch-screen PCs are all that relevant yet. But with the new Kinect for Windows SDK, I guarantee that motion gestures are in the future. And what better time to embrace the technology than when Microsoft is all but begging for you to develop on this platform?

RESTful Web Services (and OData)

RESTful Web services are those that use traditional HTTP, rather than SOAP protocols. Speaking of protocols, OData is becoming a big player in REST, especially in regards to catalogs such as Netflix and eBay. For more information on how it works, you can revisit my previous article (OData, Oh My).


Despite its pain points, JavaScript is here to stay. With the wealth of open-source libraries such as jQuery, Canvas 3D, and Typeface.js, JavaScript is a robust alternative to traditional server-side scripting. In the area of UI platforms, you may want to check out jQuery Mobile or Sencha (and more).  As Web programming further encroaches into traditional application development, expect JavaScript to continue its upward march.

Now let’s open the opinion floodgates – What do you think? Do you agree with these predictions or am I missing something? Tell us what’s in your crystal ball for 2012?

–Josh Hester aka codeguru

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