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Staying On-Top of Programming Trends? 191

Posted by Cliff
from the never-obsolete-yourself dept.
GhettoPeanut asks: "Trends are constantly changing, upgrading, or become popular due to high end user demand or just basic usefulness. I do my best to keep up with the trends, believing that for the most part they will be better then the current methods in place, or just comfort in knowing that if enough people use it, that there will be allot of help out there. Ultimately though, its keeping up with these trends and trying to figure out what's a fad versus what's actually useful that's the difficult part. What do some of you do to keep up with the trends? Websites? Magazines such as Dr. Dobbs? Forums? I know there's not one solve all, but for the sake of argument, suppose you wanted to stay on the forefront of Java based web development, what would you do?"
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Staying On-Top of Programming Trends?

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  • Well... (Score:2, Funny)

    by packetmon (977047)
    suppose you wanted to stay on the forefront of Java based web development, what would you do? I'd make sure I worked near a Starbucks that never closed while I worked on my Geocities website. Java owns you
  • Four things: (Score:5, Informative)

    by Avillia (871800) on Thursday June 15, 2006 @09:35PM (#15545954)
    1. Other programmers I know in various fields. I happen to know quite a few.
    2. The plethora of content Sun, Java, MySQL, Microsoft, Oracle, and many other high-profile "framework sponsors" push out on various developer networks, such as MSDN, DevZone, OTN...
    3. Whatever the hell O'Reilly is making books about.
    4. Seminars and conventions, often made/endorsed/branded by computer publishers such as O'Reilly and aforementioned "framework sponsors".
    • Definitely not slashdot, and definitely not the submitter.

      Here's the deal:

      "better then current methods..."

      Hrrm. The guy is a programmer, right?

      Now, would you hire a coder that doesn't know the difference between and "if, then, else" and "greater THAN" "less THAN" "less THAN or equal to"? :D

      Sorry, I had to do it. He's making a comparison that he probably does all day coding, and would have failed it.

      You fail it man, you fail it. ;)
  • by Black Parrot (19622) on Thursday June 15, 2006 @09:38PM (#15545967)
    I've really enjoyed 1001 Buzzwords for the Entry-Level Programmer.
  • Ignore them... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ResidntGeek (772730) on Thursday June 15, 2006 @09:39PM (#15545971) Journal
    This isn't what you asked, but you shouldn't follow trends, you'll just end up with a little knowledge of everything. Just concentrate on C or C++ for *NIX (or something similarly consistent) and you'll eventually be a guru, able to do anything you wish with it.
    • Re:Ignore them... (Score:4, Interesting)

      by SeeMyNuts! (955740) on Thursday June 15, 2006 @10:44PM (#15546297)
      "Just concentrate on C or C++ for *NIX (or something similarly consistent) and you'll eventually be a guru, able to do anything you wish with it."

      See, here's a problem. Most CS instructors will cram down students' throats that if they concentrate on principles they can pick up any language/platform as if it's nothing at all. It's a lie, but that's what they say. This is where this "Ask Slashdot" is coming from--an idealized mindset leading to severe programming attention deficit disorder.

      When I was a programmer full time, I tried to ignore the covers of magazines, knowing that it's just hyped up B.S. However, my co-workers would be drooling over whatever Java database framework was released that week (everyone and their uncle was writing Java frameworks!!!) and end up with some twisted mess of undocumented APIs and un-debuggable problems. It was awful. Couple that with high turnover and whole projects would just get flushed and re-done from scratch (again, done badly...perhaps they found a real money tree and didn't tell us?).

      Oh, and trash the UML! Simultaneously with writing terrible software, everyone was on some sort of UML pilgramage to Software Engineer Paradise somewhere. Barf!

      I would have been in programmer heaven to just do it all in C and /bin/sh, if only to have a platform that someone on this earth documented and understood without v0.00001 APIs and pretty UML pictures that meant absolutely nothing without minutes of explaining.

      • Re:Ignore them... (Score:4, Informative)

        by mrchaotica (681592) * on Thursday June 15, 2006 @11:16PM (#15546427)
        Most CS instructors will cram down students' throats that if they concentrate on principles they can pick up any language/platform as if it's nothing at all. It's a lie, but that's what they say.

        Actually, it's not a lie. I'm a CS undergrad at GA Tech, and from classes I have experience in Scheme, Java, C (with UNIX), and Smalltalk. Anyway, I got a job this summer programming in a C++ .NET and ObjectARX [autodesk.com] environment using Visual Studio, even though I had absolutely zero prior experience with any of it.

        Long story short, it took me about a week to figure it all out. It was cake.

        They're planning to migrate their whole program to C# soon; I figure learning that language will take me about a day and a half.

        • by grahamsz (150076) on Friday June 16, 2006 @03:03AM (#15547075) Homepage Journal
          I figure learning that language will take me about a day and a half.

          True, C# isn't a hard language to learn. I find it a little disjointed as I'm primarily a Java guy, but it's simple to understand.

          The problem with C#, or indeed Java, is that the API and associated frameworks do so much for you, but take a long time to master. Some of my early Java code is needlessly verbose because i simply didn't know that the API made certain functionality available. Now that i'm competant in a small number of frameworks and have better learned the development tools, i find i can work a lot faster.

          It doesn't take long before you become so used to the framework that programming in C or asm seems like reinventing the wheel.
        • > Actually, it's not a lie. I'm a CS undergrad at GA Tech,
          > ...
          > They're planning to migrate their whole program to C# soon; I figure learning
          > that language will take me about a day and a half.

          It depends what you mean by 'learning the language' ;)

          Sure C# is not a difficult language (like Java, most of the complexity is in the APIs), and maybe you can read and understand a C# reference book in a day and a half, but I doubt you will have internalised it to the point where you are not having to co
        • Getting the gist of a language is one thing, but to be able to use it for what it is intended is another. I am sure you will be writing Hello World in a few hours at most but I am sure it will take you at least a few months to get into the groove with what makes C# (or any other langiuage) unique for whatever you are doing.

          If you came into my office and said "Well, I don't know language X but I should be able to knock out production code with it in a day and a half would give me the willies."

          Just think

        • Re:Ignore them... (Score:2, Insightful)

          by 1iar_parad0x (676662)
          It's not hard to pick up a book/documentation on a new langauage and start writing code. However, it is difficult to design an application effectively without knowing something about the language. Could I design a large scale C++ app effectively if I were a Java or Perl guru? Would you want some crusty old engineer with years of embedded systems experience and C++ skills designing a large scale J2EE database app. You take for granted the complexities of the software engineering process when your part of
      • Most CS instructors will cram down students' throats that if they concentrate on principles they can pick up any language/platform as if it's nothing at all. It's a lie

        Nope. I never finished college (got "hired out" my junior year), but I took all the fundamental CS courses (data structures, language design and implementation, discrete math) and I haven't had a problem picking up a new language or paradigm in the last twenty years. I went from C/Unix to 4GL/Unix to C/VMS to 4GL (a different one)/VMS to as

      • "Oh, and trash the UML! Simultaneously with writing terrible software, everyone was on some sort of UML pilgramage to Software Engineer Paradise somewhere. Barf!"

        Please, if you want to trash something, trash the conventional software engeneering. UML is just a language (a graphical one), and a very useful and powerful language. You can trash the metodologies, but UML has nothing to do with them.

      • and pretty UML pictures that meant absolutely nothing without minutes of explaining.

        If that is the case in your environment, fire the UML painter.

        OTOH I as well often see: and pretty formatted source code that meant absolutely nothing without minutes of explaining.

        So what is the difference? You claim you can code? then you should love UML ... ppl who cant cope with UML are no coders, just like engineers that cant cope with schematics are no engineers.

        angel'o'sphere
      • Most CS instructors will cram down students' throats that if they concentrate on principles they can pick up any language/platform as if it's nothing at all. It's a lie, Hu?

        So you memorize everything individually without realizing the underlying common principles? No wonder you cant pick up new stuff easy and fast then ...

        ... I tried to ignore the covers of magazines, ... Depends on the quallity of the magazine. I'm reading 50% of my spare time. I read everything, and if its work related I only glance th
  • Mono? (Score:5, Informative)

    by headkase (533448) on Thursday June 15, 2006 @09:48PM (#15546035)
    I would suggest Mono as an important project. As Microsoft designed it, .net's common language runtime can be targeted from practically any language. .net is equivalent to a standard virtual machine that provides a standard environment (duh). By allowing code to leverage other code and perform this work independent of any particular programming languages they've created a large developer base that can easily be ported to Linux via Mono.
    8^p
    • I totally agree. There's an unavoidable flamewar about to start here, but the .Net framework is fantastic. In my world, it's misguided to even want to be the best Java developer instead of the best .NET developer. Today and for the foreseable future, you'll be able to get more top quality work with .NET than with Java.

      And aside from the evil overtones, it's a fantastic language. Come to the dark side.

      ----

      Besides, Darth Vader can kill people across the galaxies on a viewscreen with a motion of his han

      • Today and for the foreseable future, you'll be able to get more top quality work with .NET than with Java.
        Thats your perception, I disagree.

        I did a hell lot Java so far n my life, and started to work in C#/.NET in the beginning of this year. Frankly: it sucks. It is so similar and in lots of areas still so much simplyfied that you can cry when you sit at the keyboard.

        E.g. having no checked exceptions makes C# completely useless for big systems. So you basically can't get top quality with C# at all!!!

        angel'o
    • by bwt (68845)
      sigh... .net is nothing more than a carbon copy of java, optimized for the microsoft OS. The funny thing is that while what you say is true about .net, that it can be targetted by multiple languages, it's kind of funny that you think this is something that .net has a leg up on the competition (java). There are 200 freaking languages [robert-tolksdorf.de] that run on the jvm. There are many that are production quality. Microsoft doesn't support Mono on Linux, so every time MS "innovates" (aka copies another feature from java) the
      • I gotta side step a bit and say that I was not talking about java - I was really talking about Mono. I think Mono is important because it would allow traditional Microsoft developers to substitute Linux for Windows at some future date and experience no discomfort developilarily wise. When I get off my butt and write some python code I'm thinking of having Python that calls the .net framework e.g. Iron Python [ironpython.com]. The overall speed increase of about 1.7x faster execution of a program compared against the offi
  • Read and Succeed (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Unoti (731964) on Thursday June 15, 2006 @09:51PM (#15546054) Journal
    Two key thoughts to share: Read, Succeed.

    Read

    First, you need to read a lot. Dr Dobbs, MSDN, developer blogs, books. To separate fad from rad, I recommend you use your own common sense.

    For example, a few years back I worked hard to learn and understand the Unified Process. There were a lot of great ideas in there, but I felt it was too heavyweight and over the top for what I was doing. But I did feel it had brilliant ideas and revolutionary concepts. So I took what I thought were the most practical ideas and used them. The most important ideas I took were things like 1) throwing out the waterfall approach and developing iteratively, testing and "releasing" after each iteration, 2) identifying the biggest show-stopper risks up front and doing research to make them not so scary, 3) getting the customer/end user involved up front and through the whole process. A lot of people might shoot me for saying this, but it turns out that the Unified Process was pretty much a fad, and those key concepts turn out to be the foundation for "Agile Development" and "Extreme Programming."

    The point is, read and study anything that interests you, and decide for yourself what's useful.

    Succeed

    Second, you need to do stuff to get success stories you can tell when you're interviewing or selling yourself to your current employer. A lot of book knowledge doesn't do diddley if you don't put things in the done basket. Ever see people at work with dozens of spiffy certifications that can't code their way out of a paper bag? Don't be like that. Do lots of stuff and do it successfully.

    I recommend you work on anything you have some passion for, even if it's not directly work related. For example, I did a lot of 3D programming when I was working as an Oracle PL/SQL developer. Totally unrelated to work. But I honed my OO skills, learned OpenGL and DirectX, learned a lot about 3D math. Although it took a while to pay off, all of it did eventually pay off. Knowledge of C++ helped me answer tricky STL interview questions, and I later got a job with a company that makes interactive 3D training software for jet mechanics-- way cooler than Oracle. And even though this wasn't work-related, I was able to include that work in my list of success stories I could tell potential employers and other people making decisions about me.

    So do whatever you have a passion for, and do it successfully and to completion.

    • But I did feel it had brilliant ideas and revolutionary concepts.

      Those aren't revolutionary - they're basic project management and some real world development mixed together. Nobody uses waterfall. Identifying risks is a basic part of requirements analysis, and talking to customers (and identifying them at all) is necessary so you have a chance at success. Who cares if your code works if nobody wants it.

      • In 1990, if you didn't use waterfall, you were called a cowboy hacker (that was generally a bad term in the software development industry then). It was revolutionary at the time.

        Lots of people coded iteratively, hell, most successful developers did. But in the business world it was really frowned upon. Successful programmers pretended that they were doing waterfall when they really weren't. Programmers routinely made huge design documents (often after the code was mostly done) to appease their bosses.

        • Yeah, I feel comfortable in calling it revolutionary.

          It's a sad statement that actually being able to be honest about how you work is revolutionary.

          Here's my favored dev process (crystalized in 2000 and based heavily on what they did where I worked):

          • Design doc up front that gives the broad strokes on what we're building.
          • Release plan that describes the first several releases (in 4-6 week chunks)
          • A working product every release with progressive functionality
          • Every release or two, get direct feedback on
    • > A lot of people might shoot me for saying this, but it turns out that the Unified Process was pretty much a fad

      Really, they will shoot you? Who exactly? Dig through Usenet posts of the last ten years and you will find mountains of complaints and cursing over UML and Rational in particular. This is a classic example of something developed by people with a serious disconnect from the Real World. It's a little like those beautiful example programs for OOP in college, where everything gels together wonderf
      • Sequence diagrams are useful for showing things to non-coders.

        That's the only thing that I can think of from UML that has value
        (and I'm pretty sure I saw sequence diagrams before UML was
        created).
  • Pick a language (Score:2, Informative)

    by wildman6801 (763038)
    Pick a language and learn it to your best: I would suggest a language like Java or C, C++. The more you learn about your langauge that you choose the better you will get at it and the more you will be in the trend. I started learning C++ back in college and I use it. I learned it very well and I keep up to date with it changes.
    • Re:Pick a language (Score:2, Insightful)

      by XaXXon (202882)
      Take what this person said and do the exact opposite.

      If you only have a hammer, everything starts looking like a nail.

      That's the sign of a bad programmer.

      Who moderated the parent insightful?!?
      • But if you don't know how to use the hammer appropriately, how can
        use compare other tools to it?

        I mostly agree with the original post: pick a small language (like
        C) and learn it and its standard library inside and out. Then, as
        you find domains that are akward for that language, explore other
        languages that handle that domain better. Find one that you like
        that, hopefully, will scale to other domains as well, and learn it
        inside and out. Keep adding tools in this manner when you identify
        weaknesses in your toolb

        • I mostly agree with the original post: pick a small language (like
          C) and learn it and its standard library inside and out.


          No, definitely don't do THAT

          When you learn a language like C or Pascal first you will have a hard time to switch to an OO language like C#/Java or even C++ ... If you want to sugest to learn a small language first, then use SmallTalk or some kind of LISP.

          With your mind poisened by primitive imparative only languages, it will cost you 3 or more years in getting fluent in OOP and Design P
    • Pick a language and learn it to your best: I would suggest a language like Java or C, C++.

      I would say learn 3 or 4 different kinds of languages, e.g. C and C++, either Java or C#, and one of Perl/Python/Ruby (plus something like oCaml or lisp if you're a real geek) then develop some useful transferrable skills like XML/DOM/SAX, SQL/RDBMS, TCP/IP, HTML/Javascript, Unix, etc. That way you have a good range of skills that you can apply to a good range of development projects, and you will be more valuable to

  • by smug_lisp_weenie (824771) <cbarski.4503440@bloglines.com> on Thursday June 15, 2006 @09:53PM (#15546063) Homepage
    Set up an RSS reader like reader.google.com or bloglines.com, then find a bunch of RSS feeds that cover that domain in some fashion. For Java, for instance, you can find some feeds here [java.net].

    The key is that that it's really quantity and regularity that's most important- If you spend a little time each day immersing yourself in the terminology you'll start to get a feeling of who has the most credible opinions in that field and what those persons are excited about (so eventually you'll have quality covered as well).

    There's a good chance that this will, of time, allow you to spot patterns and predict technology trends.
  • Trends? Um, no... (Score:4, Informative)

    by StarWynd (751816) on Thursday June 15, 2006 @09:57PM (#15546083)
    Your focus shouldn't be on tracking and staying on top of all the trends. It should be about finding ways to be more efficient and more productive with what you're already doing. Occasionally, I will accidentally run across a cool new tool or framework that's useful, but most of the time I have to go looking for it myself. If you find yourself saying "Surely there's a better way," someone else has probably said the same thing. And while you could scan books or search online for the answer, talking to someone else who has experienced the same thing is probably your best bet. Get involved with a local user's group for whatever language you're developing in. Ask questions, show up at the meetings and contribute back to the group. It's still good to track new trends, but this should be secondary. Just subscribe to a tech magazine or two or maybe watch some of the RSS feeds from sites that pertain to your work, but your best resource is the rest of the community.
    • Your focus shouldn't be on tracking and staying on top of all the trends.

      The original poster wants to stay on top of trends. I mean no offence but is it really your place to dictate to the original poster his or her interests?

      A heads down coder doesn't need to be on top of the latest trends but an architect does. When asked why a certain technology was included or omitted, the architect should be able to give a knowledgable answer in order to be perceived as credible. An answer of ignorence (i.e. I

  • Slashdot (Score:4, Informative)

    by Alric (58756) <slashdot AT tenhundfeld DOT org> on Thursday June 15, 2006 @09:59PM (#15546100) Homepage Journal
    Honestly, being a regular on slashdot will keep you pretty current on the latest fads in the industry. For a specific technology, I recommend finding a few experts or "thought leaders" in that field who have blogs and reading whatever they're reading.

    Also, as others will say ad infinitum, focusing on the basics is much more important than trying new fads or styles.
    • > Honestly, being a regular on slashdot will keep you pretty current on
      > the latest fads in the industry.
      >
      Yeah, especially if they have something to do with Google.
  • by Anml4ixoye (264762) on Thursday June 15, 2006 @10:08PM (#15546132) Homepage
    The best advice I have heard was from I believe Martin Fowler who said to learn a new language every 6 months. So, instead of learning the differences between JSF and Struts, pick up a Rails book, or Python, or Boo, or Lua. (Except if part of your job is figuring out the differences between JSF and Struts)

    Several of my coworkers attended JavaOne, and while I would have liked to have gone, I'm much happier going to Agile 2006 where I will get exposed to a wider variety of things going on. For example, if you haven't tried Rails, it is a great way of seeing how using sensible defaults can get something up and running quickly, and how extension can keep it maintainable as it grows.

    Same thing with ASP.NET. The event model for web pages is really great, and I've built some neat apps in ASP.NET which let me use some of the cleanest MVP seperation possible.

    So, if you want to know more about Java, pick up some other languages. You'll find yourself wanting to do even more.
    • Agreed. Learning rails was the best thing I could have every done for my PHP skills. I think my current tools are out of shape, and looks for better equivalents, and find them.
    • As Joel points out in "Joel on Software", the language isn't the big issue any more. It's the libraries. Learning another set of a few thousand things you can call, where a measureable fraction of them are broken or don't meet their specifications, requires time and practice.

      And it's so unrewarding, because you're expected to work around the flaws in the libraries. I miss aerospace, where, when a vendor doesn;t meet specification, the contracts people pound on the vendor until it's fixed.

    • Right. Learning, ant at least fiddling around with a lot of different languages is the most best way to learn programming. With that you do several things:

      - you get to know a lot of different programming paradims, ways of solving problems, that would be completely lost to you, if you stick to just one language. The least it does is to give you an understanding, when someone tries to explicitely implement one of those paradigms in a language that isn't meant for it (because the problem requires it). Tremendo
  • learn fundamentals (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 15, 2006 @10:11PM (#15546144)
    Learn general fundamental stuff first.

    Like: LISP, the relational model, etc.

    Then after a while you'll notice that most everything is a subset of something that's already been invented, but with a different name, or a different syntax, or a different "marketing angle".

    Ruby? Python? Different subsets of Lisp with more interesting syntax.

    Ajax? A more complicated way of doing client/server communication.

    SQL databases? Kinda like a relational database, but simpler.

    Object databases? Take the relational model and add a large number of constraints, tada, there's an OO database.

    FreeBSD vs. Linux? Mostly the same.

    You might also become quite bitter and annoyed with the IT industry after a few years.. try not to take it out on others. :-)

    But seriously, concentrate more on what make things ALIKE. Vendors and people who haven't been in the IT industry very long will try and convince you that what they have is revolutionary and exciting, etc. They'll try and ridicule your "old-fashioned" view of whatever it is. Just smile politely and try and apply your existing knowledge with the syntax or the pretty face of "their" technology.
    • SQL databases? Kinda like a relational database, but simpler.
      And what is teh difference?

      Object databases? Take the relational model and add a large number of constraints, tada, there's an OO database.

      To both statements of you I only can say: you certainly have no clue. So I wonder if you tried to be funny/sarcastic ;D

      angel'o'sphere
  • Ignore it. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jlarocco (851450) on Thursday June 15, 2006 @10:21PM (#15546191) Homepage
    I know there's not one solve all, but for the sake of argument, suppose you wanted to stay on the forefront of Java based web development, what would you do?"

    Shoot myself.

    More seriously, trying to stay up to date on every new trend is pointless. You're better off picking a few things and learning them well.

    • Re:Ignore it. (Score:4, Interesting)

      by MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) on Thursday June 15, 2006 @11:16PM (#15546420)
      "More seriously, trying to stay up to date on every new trend is pointless. You're better off picking a few things and learning them well."

      Seconded. When I was in high school I took whatever programming classes I could get into. I started with Basic and moved on to Pascal. That gave me some good fundamentals to work with. When I entered the work-force, I found myself scripting quite a bit for Lightwave. (For the uninitiated: Lightwave is a 3D program commonly used in television effects.) Recently we've been using Maya a lot more. I was able to shift over and start writing scripts for it. Why? Lightwave scripting gave me the experience I needed to know what I'm looking for, so when it came time to use another language, I had what I needed to get going fairly quickly. This has even spilled over into writing a little bit of PHP code and so on.

      I took the scenic route here, but yeah, develop a solid skill, and when you need to move into another language it'll go pretty smoothly. I was involved in the process of hiring engineers and we had a number of applicants who were dabblers. "I know OpenGL!" "Great! What have you done with it?" "I made a box rotate on the screen! (It was really hard!)" "Okay, so what's your expertise?" "..." We didn't feel comfortable hiring those people because we had no idea where they would have been best suited. Jack of all trades, master of none, yadda yadda yadda.

  • by triskaidekaphile (252815) <xerafin@hotmail.com> on Thursday June 15, 2006 @10:23PM (#15546202) Homepage

    I know Java very well, but my true strength is in design. It doesn't matter what languages come and go, those skills will always be useful.

    Learn good communication skills [toastmasters.org] so others will think you are competent. Even if you aren't.

    Learn persuasion skills so you get good compensation.

    Prepare side interests that you can ramp up into money-making ventures in a few months. If your company folds, you get laid off, or you decide to retire (or just plain quit) and the job market sucks, you at least have an avenue to pursue.

    • Learn good communication skills so others will think you are competent. Even if you aren't.

      And, remember, writing is communication. In fact, it's a form of communication that lingers on long after you've forgotten about it, making you look smart or stupid, as the case may be, the whole time.

      My point here, of course, is that the submitter's summary is chock-full of screwups.

      GhettoPeanut, please: the language you should be working on is not Java or Ruby or SuperDuperCPlusPlusPlus. It's English.

  • A blend of sites. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by shoolz (752000) on Thursday June 15, 2006 @10:24PM (#15546209) Homepage
    I don't think what you're looking for exists!

    I find that I generally have a good idea what's going on by frequenting /. and many other geekly news-aggrigator sites. I keep my ear to the ground and keep track mentally of how often new programming/tech buzzwords get kicked around. I investigate every technology on a high-level, and when I see a new trend emerging that seems to offer a solution that nothing else has so far, get involved on a granular level. I make my own decisions based on what information I can gather.

    Bottom line is, to use your example, if you were looking for what was going down on cutting-edge Java, you would simply spend a good portion of your time researching Java. But the point I'm trying to shoehorn in here is that to stay on edge, you have to be on edge. Which means investing time and researching and *actually* knowing what's going on. Otherwise you'll remain a tool to the hype-machines that have felled so many good programmers / managers.

    Sorry... I wish I could give you the "visit site X" answer that you're looking for. I really do.
  • Look at C++/CLI (Score:2, Informative)

    by Tarydon (982900)
    The C++/CLI language looks interesting. You can download the spec from http://www.ecma-international.org/publications/sta ndards/Ecma-372.htm [ecma-international.org]. Yes, it is Microsoft grown, but they seem to have some good people on the design team (Lippman, Sutter) and it's nothing at all like the mess that Managed C++ was. It's worth looking at if you want to keep abreast of 'current trends'.
    • Re:Look at C++/CLI (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Mr. Feely (23410)
      Ugh. I don't denigrate the talent and effort that went into C++/CLI -- it is a valiant (and largely successful) effort to integrate the CLI programming model into C++. But it buys little expressive power over C#, at the cost of a much more complex syntax. Unless you're a language fanatic or are looking to create a CLI interface to unmanaged C++, you'd be best off avoiding it entirely in favor of C#.
  • by SoupIsGood Food (1179) on Thursday June 15, 2006 @11:59PM (#15546606)
    1) The biggest news in Java is that you don't have to program in Java anymore. Popular languages like Python, Ruby and Eiffel(HA! Loser.) have all been ported to the Java VM, and have access to to the Java libraries, in addition to the Python/Ruby/OCaml(HA! Loser.) libraries.

    2) You will only ever need to know Java, Ruby or Python to make it as a Web Programmer.

    3) RoR is teh hawt. On the Java side, knowing Spring, Hibernate, struts, jUnit, JSF and (hold your nose) Beans will get you far. Python? HA!

    4) Python was in, now it's on its way out. Python geeks can keep the perl geeks warm when it snows. Take comfort, the Ruby guys will be there to huddle up with you in five years. PHP guys don't get paid, but will be wanted by people who don't like to pay programmers.

    5) C++. How quaint. You must have come from the game programming field. Perhaps you should go back there? We sure as hell don't want you. Go and keep the LISP guy company at the geezer end of the bar.

    SoupTellsItLikeIt Is
    • Re:In a nutshell... (Score:3, Interesting)

      by colmore (56499)
      PHP was a a great little language for little webapps. Web programming has become about a lot more than validating forms though, it's limitations have become a little too obvious.

      Perl had a killer head-start because in 1996 nobody did CGI like Perl did CGI. But Perl is s system glue language. It's a mighty system glue language, and there will always be work for Perl gurus, since all those custom scripts holding the infrastructure of every Unix shop on earth together are always going to need maintanence an
  • C/C++ (Score:3, Insightful)

    by SirSlud (67381) on Friday June 16, 2006 @12:12AM (#15546646) Homepage
    Thats it. Know how to program in C/C++ and you will find a job.

    What it really comes down to is knowing your data structures, knowing how much memory you're using, knowing how brutal your algorithms are, knowing the time to add/remove/find elements in your structures, and once you know C/C++, everything is a cakewalk. Seriously. Jesus I still wish I was doing web programming, where wasting massive cpu was okay. Learn C/C++ and find a job where you need to keep things speedy like games or web servers that need to deliver massive amounts of requests per second. Spend 2 years doing that, and you'll need and know everything you need to know for a career in programming.
  • Java Posse (Score:4, Informative)

    by akuzi (583164) on Friday June 16, 2006 @12:12AM (#15546648)
    > Suppose you wanted to stay on the forefront of Java based web development, what would you do?

    To keep up with what's happening in the Java world, I'd recommend listening to the excellent Java Posse podcast [slashdot.org] and as well as reading The Server Side [serverside.com].
  • User Demands? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Fulcrum of Evil (560260) on Friday June 16, 2006 @02:47AM (#15547031)

    Trends are constantly changing, upgrading, or become popular due to high end user demand

    Why the hell should users care what language their stuff is written in? They're USERS!

  • books (Score:3, Informative)

    by devonbowen (231626) on Friday June 16, 2006 @06:33AM (#15547552) Homepage
    My algorithm is to read Slashdot regularly to look for things that I haven't heard of (usually in the comments, not necessarily articles). When I see a new language or methodology that seems to have a few positive comments written about it, I find a definitive web site and download some pdfs, do some tutorials, or go to O'Reilly and read a book about it (a Safari subscription is nice for this). It works well. It takes some time and effort but I end up with in-depth knowledge (not just buzzwords) about pretty much everything that is relevant. Magazines and such are a total waste of time.

    Devon
  • by porsche911 (64841) on Friday June 16, 2006 @06:47AM (#15547585)
    1. Plan on studying something new every 12-18 months.
    2. Don't just concentrate on technologies. Study Project Management, Emotional
        Maturity, Presentation skills and public speaking. Think of yourself as an
        investment, you want to hedge your down-side by making sure you have skills
        completely outside the particular situation you are in at any given time.
    3. Review yourself every 6 months or so. Are you stuck in a learning rut, continuing to
        read the same types of junky "Visual Basic in 21 nanoseconds" or are you actually
        challenging yourself?
    4. Review the basics every so often. Go back and read a deep book on analysis of
        algorithms or databases or language design.
    5. Try to push yourself out of your comfort zone every few years.
    6. Don't get too hung-up on the buzz-word du jure. 90% of them will last a millisecond
        in your career.
    7. Treat everyone you come into contact with as a teacher.

  • Usually, the way I keep up is well... checking slashdot, but not only that I also check out new and upcoming releases of programming books on Amazon.com. For instance I did not really look into AJAX until I started seeing a lot of information out there about it, such as books (WROX has a really good one cannot think of the title though). But usually I do not learn a new fad/trend until I see people actually using it in the work environment or seeing it being talked about a lot by my fellow developers. I
  • Few IT people, even those who understand Patterns methodology, have ever read the original works by the architect Christopher Alexander. His book A Timeless Way of Building [amazon.com] is a masterpiece of design philosophy, that describes the Way of building anything, from a single chair, to a house, a neighborhood, a city, a program, a world, or even a life. Shut down your browser, skip a couple of RSS feeds, and take the time to read this charming little book. My two cents.
  • Give yourself some time each week to play with new "stuff". Download some new development environments and play with them.

    As for choosing what "stuff" to download and explore? Just surf around, subscribe to some development-oriented RSS feeds in a decent newsreader, see what the buzz is about. Some of the buzz is justified, some isn't, but following the buzz with a healthy dose of skepticism and a big grain of salt is tons more effective than just flailing around in the dark.

    The big challenge, of course,
  • by Gorshkov (932507)
    suppose you wanted to stay on the forefront of Java based web development, what would you do?"

    I'd find a sword and fall on it.
  • Programming trends (Score:5, Informative)

    by ArmpitMan (741950) on Friday June 16, 2006 @11:54PM (#15553623) Homepage
    You want to know the latest trends for Java-based web development? Fewer and fewer people are going to be doing Java-based web development in the future.

    Fuck trends. They're wrong. Every day the industry continues to stay with its current ridiculous technologies when vastly superior ones were invented decades ago infuriates me further. If it doesn't infuriate you, you're not paying close enough attention.

    My advice: read Lambda the Ultimate [lambda-the-ultimate.org] and Steve Yegge's blog [blogspot.com]. Endeavor to learn what the lambda calculus [wikipedia.org] and referential transparency are. If you are sincerely interested in bettering yourself as a programmer and don't go find out who Alonzo Church [wikipedia.org] was then so help me God I will kick you in the balls. Learn about SML [smlnj.org] and type inference [wikipedia.org]. Learn about Haskell [haskell.org] and monads [nomaware.com]. Learn about process calculi [wikipedia.org] and Erlang [erlang.org]. Learn about Lisp [wikipedia.org] and code generation [codegeneration.net] and domain-specific languages [martinfowler.com]. Learn about Scheme [mit.edu] and lexical closures [wikipedia.org] and continuations [wikipedia.org]. Learn about Smalltalk [squeak.org] and what OO was really supposed to be [wikiquote.org]. Learn about type theory [lambda-the-ultimate.org] and formalism and the Curry-Howard correspondence [wikipedia.org]. Learn about Forth [forth.org] and Joy [latrobe.edu.au] and how you can have a powerful, expressive language without even so much as a grammar. Learn about Intercal [catb.org] and Befunge [wikipedia.org] and just how badly your choice of programming language can torture you. Learn about UML [uml.org] and Ruby on Rails [rubyonrails.org] and Seaside [seaside.st] and agile programming [wikipedia.org] and Java generics [angelikalanger.com] and Python generators [python.org]. Learn about aspect-oriented programming [aosd.net], context-oriented programming [common-lisp.net] and concept programming [sf.net]. Learn about multi-paradigm languages like OCaml [inria.fr] or Oz [mozart-oz.org]. Learn about weird Lisp dialects with syntax like Rebol [rebol.com] or Dylan [opendylan.org].

    Realize that library design is language design. Realize that asynchronous programming with callbacks and explicit state in a world where lightweight coroutines were around in the days of fucking Simula in the 60s for Christ's sake is cruel and unusual torture. (Sorry, pet programming construct.) Realize that the programming language research community, while considering systems programming a solved problem and generally not interested in talking about human factors, is doing some genuinely promising work. Did you know that there are conc
  • Don't Follow (Score:3, Insightful)

    by tedgyz (515156) * on Saturday June 17, 2006 @01:12PM (#15555424) Homepage
    In general, avoid the trends. Stay away from magazines - they are the greatest purveyors of trends. I generally wait until the technology has matured. It will either die on the vine, or fix the most annoying issues. For example, early versions of JSP were pretty horrible, but now it is the cornerstone of the web apps that I build.

    Boring anecdote: I am glad that I fended off the EJB hype. Now, most of the industry has realized what I suspected all along - EJBs are mostly useless and usually create more problems than they solve. About 5 years ago I had a technical manager that insisted we use EJBs for all our new development. I resisted the best I could. One engineer on the team even proved that for database access, the EJBs were 10x slower. The manager didn't seem to care. We ended up putting in enough EJBs to satiate his mandate, but mostly avoided them like the plague. EJB == Extra Java Bloat

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