Wednesday, January 17, 2018

New Tools for the Toolbelt

If you’ve never heard of Chris Hawkes, check him out. I listen pretty regularly. Like a lot of guys you find on YouTube, most of his content is geared towards new developers. He still manages to slide in a few advanced topics, though. Be warned: if you’re sensitive to profane language, he may not be for you. He can sometimes be vulgar. It doesn’t bother me, though; I find it funny.

Anyway, I was listening to "Is CoffeeScript Dead In 2018?," and he made a good point - the gist of which was to be strategic about where you invest your learning time. In other words, don’t feel pressured to learn the newest technologies, as soon as they come out. Sometimes it’s better to just wait. He uses CoffeeScript as an example. Apparently it’s dead.

I’m relatively new to development (3.5 professional years, at this point), and haven’t worked on any CoffeeScript projects. As a result, I don’t know much about it. I am preparing to adopt TypeScript in a coming project, however, which is a similar technology. For those unfamiliar, TypeScript basically adds data types to JavaScript. After watching Chris’ video, however, I started having concerns. TypeScript requires a dedicated maintenance team. What if that team dissolves? What if Microsoft goes proprietary? What if a better implementation of data types is already in the works for a coming release of JS? Crazier things have happened…

I shared the video with a colleague of mine - a guy I trust and respect - who is in the TypeScript-is-fine camp. He allayed a few of my concerns, but he’s still a relatively young guy. He hasn’t had time to see an industry evolve. I have. I’m now a developer because of “industrial evolution.” Forgive me if I lack faith. At the end of the day though, I agree with him: TypeScript likely has a bright future. I should probably move forward with it. But Chris’ words of caution have not fallen on deaf ears. I get the point: adopt new technologies cautiously.

What do you think? I’m sure you’ve noticed how fast technologies are changing. I mean, who was talking about React, five years ago? Now you can’t get job unless you know it… Are you a slow-adopter, or think it’s vital that developers stay up-to-date with the latest and greatest? Drop a line.

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