Futureproof Programming Skills To Learn In 2021

Futureproof Programming Skills To Learn In 2021

Today I want to write about my own personal take on the future-proof programming skills and languages that I would recommend to focus on. These come from my past decade of writing code either professionally or for my own enjoyment, and hopefully give you an idea about the tech that gets you a job and keeps you employed, and employable.

SQL, in particular Oracle

Databases build the core and foundation of pretty much any company’s infrastructure these days. For a while it seemed like back-end work was standing a bit in the shadows of fancy front-ends and everyone was either front-end or full-stack in their bios, but I feel that was mostly a phase and we are in fact seeing a bit of a reverse trend here.

Front-Ends are obviously still a huge portion of everything, but for a variety of purposes and companies big and small, an out-of-the-box front-end can do 90% of the work. Just look at all the great examples launched by solo founders with pre-made components. However, you don’t really see a back-end-out-of-the-box anywhere, mainly because those are way too individual to come in template form.

Databases won’t go away anytime soon, and of all the various options Oracle is probably the most profitable for you to work on. Oracle is the kind of system that you see in larger companies, the ones with deeper pockets and long-lasting goals. If you feel like those full-stack jobs spread you far too thin and you want to focus on one technology, then a job as an Oracle Dev / Admin / whatever can give you that career you do until you retire. In fact, some of the highest-paid people in many companies are people that you never get to see, the office-floor ghosts who either scare people or work their magic on database clonings or caching solutions.

C#

I feel insanely lucky that I stumbled into C# as my first programming language, for a variety of reasons:

  • It is very structured and structural, great for company environments where many people work on one system.
  • It is highly documented and pretty much every error has been fixed, then talked about on stack-overflow or some weird offshoot blog like mine. If your solution is general enough to be encountered by someone else, then it has.
  • You can do everything with it. If you really want to you can build websites in C#, automate browsers, or do what it’s best at and build business solutions built on a strong foundation.
  • The thing you want to do is probably just a NuGet package download away.
  • Large companies love using it for those very reasons, so again, you enter into a world that has long-term goals and has a need for specialists and knowledge-carriers.
  • If you have seen C#, you have essentially seen most other programming languages. Python felt very easy to pick up, and JavaScript was less of a pain than it could have been. Still though, fuck JavaScript. Each time you work with a different language you’ll start missing quality of life improvements like LinQ, ReSharper and the like.
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Python

Python is great for a variety of reasons as well, but I would not recommend it as your first choice. It makes for a great second language, and in many regards a quick Python script can replace complicated workflows, but it still has the touch of a beginner / entry level language.

You can do highly advanced and professional things with it, but for me where Python really shines is at (web) automation. If you learn Python and Selenium you can automate complex workflows, build your own IFTTT style tools for pages that IFTTT can not connect to, and so much more.

I feel that Python is only let down by the lack of type enforcement which feels like an odd choice that creates more problems than it solves. This makes it less of a good choice for large scale projects, which again is where the corporate money is. But Python makes for great hobby level programming projects, or data analysis, or Startup company work, so there is more than enough demand to go around.

Version control, and in particular GIT

Version control is everything, it’s the only reason our world works anymore, for real. If you aren’t in programming yet you may not be aware of how critical GIT and the only real alternative Subversion are, everything is built upon it nowadays. Your updates come in automatically when new versions are pushed, automated build pipelines react to GIT commits, and if all that doesn’t make sense to you yet trust me and read up on it until it does.

Version control may seem boring almost, but since it is the foundation for a great many workflows you have a lot of options for pretty fun jobs that have a strong relation to it. For example build pipelines and release automation, those make me as a programmer three times as fast as I would otherwise be, and drastically reduce preventable errors.

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