One problem for programming beginners is the abundance of trends.
The field consistently gives birth to dozens of new niches, technologies, and business models, which can be truly overwhelming.
This problem isn’t simply philosophical in nature -- as when feeling overwhelmed with options and possibilities makes focus a feeble goal.
But reality hits hard when it's incredibly difficult to pick the right technology stack for career specialization.
Popular tech websites and developer communities aren’t always much help. Specialists love to debate popular trends, advocating for those technologies and solutions they use or believe are superior.
With all this informational noise out there, digesting it all to form your own opinion would take considerable time and effort.
So, we conducted a survey with well-known software development experts and industry influencers, asking them to share their opinions on the most popular software development trends and give some tips to programming beginners who are starting their careers in tech.
After all, as we said, developers like to talk and argue about trends. Everyone loves to give others advice. So, we managed to gather a lot of interesting insights and valuable tips.
Based on the results of insights we’ve got from the tech expert survey, as well as some input from our friendly and helpful user community, we put together a guide on current trends in the software development industry and areas of knowledge beginners in the field should prioritize.
Thanks to everyone who helped with answers and participation.
The experts we interviewed specified a number of general tech industry trends they consider to be the most significant and full of long-term potential.
1. AI and Machine Learning
Unsurprisingly, AI is number one on this list. Artificial intelligence is probably the most well-known tech trend of today. Even people who are far from the tech industry should’ve noticed how AI has turned from something specialized into an everyday technology that augments our devices, services, and websites.
AI keeps getting better and better at understanding what users want, as well as influencing their choices with more relevant ads and commercial offers.
It will keep trending in 2021 and beyond. All the technologies that are parts of the AI field, such as machine learning, deep learning, image recognition, speech recognition, and others will continue to evolve, becoming even more common and omnipresent in our daily lives.
Ken Fogel, Java expert, and Computer Science Technology Professor at Dawson College in Canada agrees that AI/ML is the top tech trend today: “If I needed to define one trend, I’d have to say AI/ML. I do not know if this will result in better software. What I do see is that in the general population of software users, I call them human beings, AI/ML is the buzz phrase that many believe will solve all our problems. Of course, it will not, but customers are clamoring, from what I read, for solutions that employ this technology.”
2. Big Data
Big data is another major technology trend that isn’t going away anytime soon. In fact, the opposite is true. The market shows an overwhelming demand for big data, and it keeps growing. By 2025, businesses are projected to create about 60 percent of all global data. Companies across various industries generate almost continuous streams of information and require technology solutions that can efficiently collect, store and use large amounts of data.
The demand for big-data professionals will keep growing in the coming years, creating countless opportunities. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, this field will grow about 27.9 percent by 2026. Some researchers predict that the most successful and well-paying jobs in the coming decade will be data-related.
“You might have heard that ’data is the new oil.’ That’s true. In particular, I would pay attention to data engineering, because for two reasons. One, it is booming. Two, there is a massive shortage of skilled data engineers. Except for data-related jobs, another huge trend is developing in the cloud, which is an increasingly popular option for many companies,” said , an experienced software developer, and tech industry influencer.
3. SaaS and PaaS
Many development experts consider SaaS and PaaS models, as well as microservices, to be extremely promising. Even better, these models are also open to developers specializing in different programming languages. As interaction takes place according to REST, which is a de facto standard, the specific language you use isn’t very important, whether Java or Python.
4. Cloud Computing
Even though cloud computing was a hot, new trend around a decade ago, it still deserves a spot on this list. It’s become a common and important part of software functioning processes.
Today, people use cloud services all the time without even realizing it, from booking hotels online to ordering food delivery to check for new posts on social networks.
Businesses all around the globe are increasingly adopting cloud computing as it allows them to reduce costs and make their products more accessible to consumers. So, cloud computing is another major niche that will see rising demand for highly qualified experts in the coming years.
5. Mobile Development
Mobile development is a market that will, without a doubt, keep growing at an accelerating pace for several reasons. The upcoming deployment of Starlink, a global satellite system that should bring high-speed broadband internet access to areas where it used to be poorly accessible, is one.
If the system is deployed as planned, more people will be able to access the Internet on their phones worldwide, which will accelerate the mobile development market.
According to a report by IDC, Android-based smartphones claimed almost 85 percent of the global market in 2020. Since Java and Kotlin are the two main languages in Android development, the demand for developers coding in these languages will remain consistently high and may even rise in the coming years.
Software development itself has no shortage of interesting trends and innovative technologies our experts suggest keeping an eye on as well.
Here are five major trends that we perceive to be the most important ones. This is true for software development in general, but we focused particularly on the Java ecosystem.
1. Functional programming
Many of the software development experts we surveyed pointed to functional programming as one of the major trends with potentially big futures ahead.
Even though the concept of functional programming has been around for a while, its popularity has started to flourish again. Functional programming is also a great fit for many other accelerating fields such as global web services and parallel computing, allowing developers to deal with many current problems in software development a lot more effectively.
With flexibility as one of the most important requirements today, microservices will also be a booming trend. These allow engineering teams to reduce development costs, testing complexity, and development time.
Using microservices, however, increases the infrastructural complexity of systems. And the consequence of that is the growing demand for DevOps professionals, which is also a field of specialization that is worth attention for beginners.
3. GraalVM Native Image
The rise of GraalVM Native Image, which allows you to compile Java code to a standalone executable application and does not require a JVM and accompanying libraries for its work, is another interesting trend. And it serves as a great addition to the microservice architecture and serverless approach, allowing developers to create self-contained executable images that can run incredibly fast.
4. Spring Framework
Even though Spring is the most popular Java framework in the world, its ever-evolving ecosystem means that it’s still a trending topic. Project Reactor and r2dbc, which were originally subprojects of Spring, are examples of how the Spring ecosystem gives birth to new technologies and approaches.
“I’d recommend paying attention to frameworks and technologies that are on the rise within that field. Try them out yourself, understand why people are switching to them, and if it makes sense for you, learn them yourself,” said Masha Zvereva, an entrepreneur and the founder of the Coding Blonde blog.
5. Java and its New Features
Of course, Java itself, with all its ever-developing ecosystem, remains relevant, despite the language being almost 26 years old now.
Thanks largely to the six-month new release cycle, Java is walking in step with the times and acquiring new features that make this language even more applicable for various tasks and projects across industries and suggest a bright future for Java and Java-based technologies for years to come.
Many powerful features were introduced to Java in versions 14 and 15, including sealed classes, records, text blocks, and hidden classes.
Erik Hellman, mobile programming expert and the author of Android Programming: Pushing the Limits, who was one of the experts participating in our survey, recommends that you should also take a look at asynchronous programming.
“Asynchronous programming, in general, is something everyone struggles with. Regardless of programming language, this is a concept that is crucial to understand. Other trends are functional programming, declarative UI, and basic Machine Learning. Tools every developer needs to grasp are Docker, Git, and all the keyboard shortcuts in the code editor you’re using,” he said.
The majority of experts that we have interviewed underlined that learning the fundamentals of programming and computer science, in general, is much more crucial than trying to follow the right trend if you’re wanting to have a successful career in software development.
Below are a few notable quotes.
“Learn to manage innovation and changing requirements..”
This is advice from Markus Eisele, Java Champion and founder of JavaLand.
“Our industry is constantly reinventing itself. We went from mainframes to pizza-style Intel servers to the cloud. We had bash scripts, continuous integration, and now GitHub actions. Investing time to understand the core concepts behind the technology we are using is crucial to stay relevant. Always aching to use the latest and greatest technology is not.
Think about the functional and non-functional requirements that exist and map them to the technologies you think could be a good fit. Our toolbox grew massively over the last decade and it will continue to do so. Learn to manage innovation and changing requirements as part of your technology portfolio,” recommends Markus.
“In the long run, those programmers who truly understand the basics will be in higher demand..”
Lukas Eder, famous Java and SQL expert, has the same stance: “While following the latest and greatest seems tempting, I think in the long run, those programmers who truly understand the basics will be in higher demand than the ones that followed marketing.
This includes learning data structures and algorithms (no need to be an expert, but understand them). Learn the relational model, normalization, SQL. Learn about programming paradigms including imperative, object-oriented, functional programming. Learn a few different programming languages to appreciate the differences and ecosystems,” recommends Lukas.
“Fear of missing out is there even when you are a senior..”
These are skills like problem-solving, algorithms and data structures, etc. When you have solid fundamentals, it is going to be pretty easy to pick any new trend that there might be,” added his five cents , an experienced full-stack developer and programming blogger.
“Pick something you enjoy. Then explore all of it..”
And don’t forget to enjoy, reminds us , an experienced software engineer and the author of a popular programming tutorials channel on YouTube: “Once you learn the fundamentals, it’s important to pick something you enjoy, whether it is frontend, backend, or more specifically a tech stack that you enjoy.
Then explore all of it. Dive into the latest advancements and stay on top of the game. That’s how you will become the best in what you do.”
Learning the fundamentals is the everlasting trend in programming and the key to achieving long-term success in this field.
Even following the industry and where it’s going certainly is advisable as well, and can help you better position yourself as a specialist on the software development job market.
If we had to extract one key piece of advice that virtually all our experts have for programming beginners, it would be quite predictable, we’re afraid.
It’s to never stop learning throughout your career, because accumulating knowledge is the natural state of a good developer.
We at CodeGym couldn’t agree with this more and hope that this information will help you to make the right choices and avoid some traps along this road.
Also published here.