JavaScript Developers - The New Kings of Software

Not so long ago, being a JavaScript developer wasn’t a thing to be proud of. JavaScript developers were considered 2nd class. “Pixel Pushers” they used to call us.

Let’s take Matt for example. Matt was a typical junior developer 5-7 years ago.

The Old Days

Matt’s first programming job was a junior developer for a large software company. Matt was immediately assigned “HTML Duty” upon arrival.

HTML Duty meant taking a Photoshop PSD file and then “translating” it to HTML and CSS.

Matt would then have the “awful” and “dreaded” task of dealing with JavaScript. JavaScript was the most feared programming language of all.

Real coding was done in the back end.

JavaScript was so feared in fact, that many historic travesties were made just to avoid it.

Matt’s task was to create the UI for the “real features” the backend developers were working on.

You see, real coding used to happen only at the backend. That’s where complex N-Tier Systems shined. Writing stored procedures, making API calls and coding complex BI is what real programmers used to do.

Matt would continue on playing with JavaScript until a newer developer would come along. Matt would then finally get his chance to do some “real coding”.

Fast Forward 2016 – JavaScript is Everywhere

Matt currently works on an elaborate single page with React and Node.js. Matt now uses JavaScript on the server too. He’s a full stack web developer.

Matt isn’t constrained to developing web apps alone. Armed with his knowledge of JavaScript, he’s now set to conquer native mobile apps and the internet of things as well. I guess Atwood was right.

Most wanted tech skills
Stack Overflow end of 2015 survey

We’ve come a long way since the days HTML was a chore

JavaScript developers are highly sought after in 2016. 3 out of 5 of Stack Overflow’s most wanted technologies are JavaScript and JavaScript related.

Front End is Front Stage – Back End as a Service

The front end of apps and services is now much more complex and demanding than it used to be. Users today set a high bar when it comes to their experience.

The back end on the other hand, became much simpler for a lot of us. Login with Facebook, enter some data and I’ll show you how I do something cool and useful with it.

In some apps, the back end has become so “uninteresting” for developers,  that there are third party services that claim they can handle it for you.

JavaScript Developers have an Amazing Ecosystem

Every modern programming language has got have a thriving module ecosystem.
Ruby has Ruby Gems and Java has Maven.

JavaScript didn’t have one for a very long time. But npm played catch-up in at an astounding rate.

npm started as a Node.js only package manager. But as time passed and dev tools such as webpack gained popularity, npm became the package for front end packages as well.

The day that npm unofficially became the package manager for the front end

There was one major event that made npm the clear choice for front end modules. On February of 2015, jQuery shut down its plugin repository recommending npm as the alternative.

npm is the bigger than any other package manager of any language.

And it’s only getting bigger.

Average new packages per day (measured Jan 7 – Jan 13, 2016)

npm (JavaScript) 434
GoDoc (Go) 142
Packagist (PHP) 102
Maven (Java) 75
nuget (.NET) 64

Source: Module Counts

If you sum up the 4 fastest growing languages after JavaScript, you’ll still be 51 packages/day short of npm.

I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty impressed.

JavaScript Developers Wanted

JavaScript developers are needed in almost every major software company. There’s an unfair reason for that. No matter what the company’s tech stack is, if they want to run on browsers, they have to speak JavaScript.

There are 2 awesome side effects to this fact.

1. High Demand

There’s an enormous demand for JavaScript developers. The market right now is great for any developer. But JavaScript developers who pass the “good enough” criteria are in especially high demand.

2. Tech Mobility

JavaScript equals tech mobility. I was able to switch from a .Net company to a Ruby/Node.js company without losing seniority. Because of my JS knowledge, I was able to learn Ruby from scratch while still providing high value on the front end. No other language allows you to do that.

I think JavaScript developers have had a hard time in the past. But today I can honestly say investing in my JavaScript skills is the best decision I’ve ever made.