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Why Don't You Get a Job?

Posted by editor on September 21, 2005 at 7:15 AM PDT

Coding skills are no longer enough.

If you thought specialization in your career meant picking J2EE, SE, or ME, get ready for a rough ride. More and more analysts are saying that it's not enough to be "just" a programmer anymore. According to the IDN article Survey: CIOs Want Devs with More Business Skills, featured in the Also in Java Today section, a survey of 90 top CIO/CTO executives say that tech leadership will put a premium on business-savvy IT professionals. "The SIM survey found that programmer-only skills were falling in demand, when compared to IT staff with a business and project management background."

Just being aware of project management isn't enough. It's increasingly important to pick a field and understand it. According to survey co-ordinator Kate Kaiser:

"While technical skills may still be in use at these companies, they won't necessarily be in house [hires]. These days, the trend in critical in-house skills are the client-facing skills" such as project management and knowledge of the business your employer is involved with." [emphasis added]

That's a big change that professional developers need to be aware of. In the future, you may be not just a J2EE developer, or even a J2EE web app developer, but instead a J2EE financial web app developer, or a J2EE medical web app developer, or a J2EE media web app developer, etc.

On one hand, there are a lot of people who will appreciate the value of focusing on one field and building their value in that field. That's also more useful to companies that are hiring too, since they'd prefer to hire someone who understands their business and won't make the mistakes that come from not understanding or not caring about the purpose or details of a development project.

On the other hand, what if you're all about the code? There are surely developers who really just want to code Java, and don't particularly care whether it's for finance, travel, government, etc. Is that wrong? Maybe the right place for that kind of talent is in developing products for other developers, but is there enough work to be had there?

One other factor to consider. I became more aware of this when I read a story a few months ago -- I'm sorry, I've searched and absolutely cannot find it -- about how college counselors are now applying this kind of thinking to college computer science students, guiding them to start focusing on an industry early, and to take some non-CS courses to start understanding the field they might like to program for. This may be a good way to produce more well-rounded, less-replaceable CS students. CS could use the help, since enrollments are still going down. And let me share one more alarming statistic. Tonight, O'Reilly's ONJava site will release the results of its annual reader survey. I've seen the results, and of 988 people who responded, none said they were age 18 or younger. Is there even going to be a next generation of Java programmers?

On a potentially employment-related point in today's Forums, jwenting has serious doubts
Re: Certifications:
"Many certifications can be passed by just cramming for the exam for a few days or weeks. That's the way to get a piece of paper without learning anything, as the knowledge doesn't get stored in your long-term memory and isn't backed by any real world experience."

alanb has a timely update
Re: FS extended attributes and FS notifications in Java:
"This is a good (or maybe bad) timing. I've just taken over JSR-203 and will be spinning it up very shortly. One of its goals is to define a new file system interface. As you have identified the current API (essentially only provides very limited access to file attributes. This means that applications currently have to resort to native code to do anything with EAs. File change notification is also very important and a number of file systems now provide some sort of notification mechanism. The goal for JSR-203 is to be ready in good time for Dolphin (Java SE 7.0). This might be too late for what you want to do but worth keeping in mind - maybe you can structure things so that it won't be to difficult to migrate in the future."

In Also in
Java Today
: "The case for AJAX has been made by many people recently. The advantages of AJAX have also been proven in practice. The downside of custom AJAX is its complexity and incompatibility. Large amounts of client-side JavaScript mean developers are likely to run into browser implementation differences. In addition, JavaScript is an unpleasant language for complex applications." Avoiding custom widget development and selecting a client-side AJAX library is a fix to this problem, and in the dev2dev feature, A Backbase AJAX Front-End for J2EE Applications, Mark Schiefelbein shows how to use the Backbase AJAX tools to create an AJAX-based version of the classic Java Pet Store.

Bernt Johnsen wonders about Easy String Concatenation Considered Harmful in today's Weblogs:
"Could it be that it is too easy to concatenate strings in Java? And that easy string concatenation encourages programmers to write inefficient code? At least in some contexts?"

In And another new NetBeans plug-in,
Tim Boudreau writes:
"A few people have mentioned that they would like better support or organizing import statements in NetBeans. So I wrote a module that does that..."

Tom Ball jokes that he
Can't Tell the Forest for the Trees, namely that
"the new javac abstract syntax tree API is now available on"

In Projects and
the GlassFish project, the open-source project for Sun's Java System Application Server PE 9.0, has announced that nightly builds are now available. These builds have undergone a small amount of testing, as described in the announcement. GlassFish builds for Mac OS X are also now available.

The JavaDesktop Community notes that the Columba Java email client has reached version 1.0. Columba features a user-friendly GUI, I18N support, and a Java Web Start launcher. The developers also discussed Columba and Java Desktop development in a interview.

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Coding skills are no longer enough