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The 13 developer skills you need to master now

Paul Heltzel | March 1, 2016
From JavaScript to big data to devops, we break down your best bets for bolstering your career this year.

Experts noted the increased demand for network security, in particular adaptive application security, as well as cloud security.

“With the increase in adoption of the cloud, security and compliance are growing concerns for organizations,” says Aashish Kalra, chairman of Cambridge Technology Enterprises. “This has resulted in an upsurge of demand for experts in security, compliance, governance, and data administration.”

While developers may have traditionally passed the security buck to dedicated security pros, the need for developers to safeguard their code keeps growing. Consider it an invaluable, growing niche to fill.

Go mobile

Mobile developers are highly sought after, especially those who can distribute their creations widely, says Smartling’s Akselrod. “I would argue that being a successful mobile developer is not achieved through a particular technology skill set,” he says, “but rather through business savvy. Writing code is only the first phase of the project. Knowing how to promote your mobile app, and attract and retain customers, is what drives success.”

“When mobile first emerged, the first-order problem was the app: How do I build these remarkable experiences that will run well across device types and operating systems?” says Jeff Haynie, CEO and co-founder of mobile technology company Appcelerator. “As the industry matured in this, acquiring better skills and tools, everyone now confronts the next big challenge: How do I get data -- in the right format, of the right size, with the right resiliency and responsiveness -- fed into these apps? That’s a much bigger trick.”

Connectivity issues and the fact that devices are moving beyond the screen further fuel the need to investigate the data piece of mobile development.

“The Web models of connectivity don’t work,” Haynie adds. “So this issue, coupled with the fact that more and more devices may not even have a screen and depend entirely on data and services for their usefulness, means that access and orchestration of data really is the new development challenge.”

Mobile is one of the most attractive aspects of the Internet of things, says MongoDB’s Reinero. But he warns it offers challenges.

“Mobile applications that start off small can become explosively popular and put heavy load demands on infrastructure,” Reinero says. “This means that every back-end component of a mobile service, including application servers and database servers, must have a capacity to scale quickly. Engineers need to familiarize themselves with both with the scaling model of individual components ... as well as how to manage infrastructure-as-a-service offerings such as Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud Compute.”

Even if mobile isn’t your strong suit, familiarity with current and emerging technologies can boost your career.

“For mobile, developers with UX/UI experience are in high demand,” says Jason Hayman, market research manager at TEKsystems. “The ability to understand and effectively collaborate with UX/UI pros can make developers stronger candidates.”

 

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