Never be afraid to change technology

There is one relevant topic for developers that I would like to talk about. Sooner or later most of developers end being in the position that they need to learn new additional technologies. But some of them need to change their main technology completely. And that’s the moment where various doubts, questions and even fears may appear. I would like to share my own life experience as I went through that road and now I can help you to make your own decision if you are facing the same technology change challenge.

While studying Informatics at university I have started my work career early as Flash developer. For me Flash as technology was so natural choice because it combined two different areas that I like – programming and design. I loved Flash because at the same time I could draw, animate with it and than write scripts to do some magic. It was perfect software to express my creativity. That’s why I was focusing to be only Flash developer and could not imagine other way. However the technology world was changing and suddenly Flash started to loose it’s popularity, especially after famous “Thoughts on Flash” – open letter by Apple CEO Steve Jobs. Newly created HTML5 was getting more and more attention with potential to become a new king for the web (and as it turned out later it really won that battle). When these warning signs started to show I was working in UK as Flash developer in big international company. I was in complete comfort zone – getting fixed salary, working with well known technology for me, expecting regular yearly salary raise. But I could not ignore the fact that market was changing. To my mind when you feel that changes are coming you have 3 options.

First one and the most easiest one is to ignore the signs forever. Of course this one would also be the most craziest one too. At worst case scenario you would ignore until you would be fired and you could not find any new position with old technology. At the best case scenario your employer would force you to learn new technology at work. In both cases you would depend on your current employer a lot and would loose ability to change jobs easily. I don’t need explain that you would loose your freedom such way and slowly start living in fear that your are not demandable specialist anymore.

Second option is to ignore the news for some convenient time for you. You could start learning new technology after your main job. Meanwhile you could also earn some nice money with your current skills in old technology until it will be changed to new one completely. Companies usually don’t rush to make a changes as developers do, so you could use that time to your own benefit. However motivation can be an issue here as you understand that while you waist time with old stuff meanwhile new technology is improving and you are getting left behind more and more each day. This is definitely the safest option to choose but you have constantly to remind yourself that you can’t allow to be stuck with old dying technology for too long.

Third option would be to adapt quickly and I would call it the most clever one. If you clearly see that market is changing, just accept the fact and start learning and working with new technology immediately. Yes it is the hardest thing to do when you think about it. You will need to step out from your comfort zone completely. You will need to concentrate and start learning new stuff on your own. You will quit your job and loose your stable income, so you will feel a pressure to be fast. But these are the difficulties just for short time. In the long term after you retrained yourself and your new skills started earning you money you will remember this as the best decision you made as you see that some of your past co-workers still struggling to make a move. You will also become really hot in the job market if you will be one of the first who learned the new skills.

In 2012 I have made my choice and went with the third option. I had that inner feeling that I can not wait anymore longer and need to make a move, so I quit my secure job, left UK and Flash. For me it was really painful decision because until that moment all my developer life I was concentrating just to Flash technology and ActionScript programming language. But decision was done and I was not looking back or regretting it. And you know the saying when you close one door the other one magically opens. That happened to me. After I relocated from UK to Lithuania, suddenly I got a new job offer to become native Android developer. Programming with Java for Android seemed like really good idea as both languages ActionScript and Java had syntax similarities. After watching some online courses I applied for the job, done some testing task for position and was offered an Android developer role for Better Day™ Health.

Right now I write this post in 2017 as I feel it is good time to look back at my past actions and make a conclusions, especially when this summer I saw Adobe announcement that they will stop updating and distributing the Flash Player at the end of 2020. So as you see my predictions of changing market was completely right and I made a correct decision to run away from Flash. What I want to tell you with this story that if you are a developer you have to keep your eyes open all the time, keep updated with latest news and trends in technology and react accordingly. Nobody will come and tell you that it is time to stop doing what you are doing. You can’t expect that from your employer, because you are hired to do a job and not to be retrained. Also be very sceptical with concrete technology oriented communities which members will ignore any changing market news and do not see potential future risk. These people are just too much in love with their used technology that they don’t see what’s happening globally. My advice is not to be in love with any technology or programming language or software. Don’t be afraid for changes, instead accept them naturally and be positive about them. In this world everything goes in the loop. New technology is created constantly, later it becomes too much complicated to maintain and again new better one is created because people enjoy to make a fresh start. Remember it is not the tools are important but the skills that you acquire during your lifetime.

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