5 min read

Web developers and app developers: not sure what you should be learning over the next 12 months? In such a fast-changing industry it can be hard to get a sense of which direction the proverbial wind is blowing, which means that when it comes to your future you can leave yourself in a somewhat weakened position.  

 So, if you’re looking for some ideas on how to organize your learning, look no further than this quick list.  

Learn how to build microservices 

Microservices are the dominant architectural model. There are many different reasons for this – the growth of APIs and web services, containerization – ultimately what’s important is that microservices allow you to build software in a way that’s modular. That promotes efficiency and agility which, in turn, empowers developers. 

 So, if you don’t yet have experience of developing microservices, you could do a lot worse than learning how to build them in 2020. Indeed, even if you don’t have a professional reason to learn more about microservices, exploring the topic through personal projects could be a real benefit to you in the future.  

Find microservices content in Packt’s range of cloud bundles.

Learn a new language 

 This one might not be at the top of your agenda. If you’ve been working with JavaScript or Java for years, it seems strange to make time to learn something completely new. Surely, you’re probably thinking, I’d rather invest my time and energy into learning something that I can use at work?  

 In fact, learning a new language might just be one of the best things you can do in 2020. Not only will it give your resume a gentle kick, and potentially open up new opportunities for you in the future, it will also give you a better holistic understanding of how programming languages work, what their relative limitations and advantages over one another are. It’s a cliche that travel broadens the mind but when it comes to exploring and adventuring into new languages it’s certainly true.  

 But what should you learn? That, really is down to you, what you’re background is, and where you want to go. Some options are obvious – if you’re a Java developer Kotlin is the natural next step. Sometimes it’s not so obvious – JavaScript developers, for example might want to learn Go if they’re becoming more familiar with backend development, maybe even Rust or C++ if they’re feeling particularly adventurous and ambitious. 

Explore new programming languages. Click here to find Packt’s programming bundles of eBooks and videos.

Learn a new framework

Even if you don’t think learning a new language is appropriate for you, learning a new framework might be a more practical option that you can begin to use immediately.

In the middle of the decade, when Angular.js was gaining traction across web development there was a lot of debate and discussion about the ‘best’ framework. Fortunately, this discourse has declined as it’s become clearer that choosing a framework is really about the best tool for the job, not a badge of personal identity.

With this change, it means being open to learning new tools and frameworks will help you not only in terms of building out your resume, but also in terms of having a wide range of options for solving problems in your day to day work.

Packt’s web development bundles feature a range of eBooks on the most in-demand frameworks and tools. Explore them here.

Re-learn a language you know

Although it’s good to learn new things (obviously), we don’t talk enough about how valuable it can be to go back and learn something anew.

This is for a couple of different reasons: on the one hand, it’s good to be able to review your level of understanding and to get up to speed with new features and capabilities that you might not have previously known about, but it also gives you a chance to explore a language from scratch and try to uncover a new perspective on it.

This is particularly useful if you want to learn a new paradigm, like functional programming. Going back to core principles and theory is essential if you’re to unlock new levels of performance and control. Although it’s easy to dismiss theory as something academic, let’s make 2020 the year we properly begin to appreciate the close kinship between theory and practice.

Learn how to go about learning

It’s a given that being a developer means lifelong learning. And while we encourage you to take our advice and be open to new frameworks, microservices, and new programming languages, ultimately what you learn starts and ends with you. This isn’t easy – in fact, it’s probably one of the hardest aspects of working in technology full stop. That’s why, in 2020, make it your goal to learn more about learning.

This article written by Jenn Schiffer is a couple of years old now but it articulates this challenge very well. She focuses mainly on some of the anxieties around learning new things and entering new communities, but the overarching point – that the conversation around how and why technologies should be used needs to be clearer – is a good one.

True, there’s not much you can do about poor documentation or a toxic community, but you can think about your learning in a way that’s both open minded and well structured. For example, think about what you want or need to do – be reflective about your work and career. Be inquisitive and exploratory in your research – talk to people you know and trust, and read opinions and experiences from people you’ve never even heard of.

By adopting a more intentional approach to the things you learn and the way you learn about them you’ll find that you’ll not only be able to learn new skills more efficiently, you’ll also enjoy it more too.

Explore Packt’s full range of eBooks and videos on Packt store.

Co-editor of the Packt Hub. Interested in politics, tech culture, and how software and business are changing each other.