Dev Retro 2022: What I learned in my 43rd year...

Dev Retro 2022: What I learned in my 43rd year...

Life-Long Learning as a Primary Skill...

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43 years ago, in 1979, I began writing software... professionally. I got paid $500 to write an inventory-management app in AppleSoft Basic on an Apple IIe with 64K of RAM and one 5.25" Floppy drive and a tiny CRT of a screen.

There was no database. I hand-crafted indexed file management routines. There was no GUI. Every prompt & input was carefully placed on the 24x80 monochrome screen. There was no virtual memory. All of my code had to fit into 64KB or less.

In the years since 1979, I wrote code in more languages, accessed data in more data storage technologies, used more methodologies and sold to and consulted with more customers than I could possibly count. I even co-founded, managed and sold a consulting company. It's been a grand journey.

From 1997 to 2020, I made my living with Microsoft Development Tools and Technologies. Not so much out of preference as out of practicality. That's where the opportunities were for me as an engineer.

Up until 2020, I'd never used a document database. I looked down on Javascript development. "Can't we use a real OOP language?" Express and Node.js were just tools in the Javascript ecosystem that I had no interest in learning.

That all began to change in late 2020 when I joined a startup selling a DevOps platform that was built on the MERN stack. I joined as a pre-sales DevOps Engineer, but there was a healthy dose of consulting with customers to build solutions around the tool. In early 2021, a cash-flow crisis resulted in the departure of several members of the development team. I got asked to fill in. I never looked back.

In the 18 months since that time -- in the 43rd year of my software development career -- I have learned a bit about Javascript development, MongoDB, React, Node.js, AWS APIs and... well, a bunch of stuff I never thought I'd learn.

The message here is that, even after 43 years of software development, I am still learning. If you hang around for 43 years, I bet you'll still be learning, too.