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Discussion on: Can you age out of dev?

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jhilgeman profile image
Jonathan H

I've been coding for just under 30 years. From that experience, I can say that you can't really "age out", at least not like that.

There will probably be languages you learn that you will mostly forget after about 5 years. I haven't touched a drop of Miva or Coldfusion since early 2000 (and hardly any Perl or VB), but it used to be most of what I wrote in.

There will be some languages that you just enjoy even if they're not the best. You know those guys who get paid big bucks because they're the only ones who know how to write COBOL anymore? Yeah, it's because they've continued to write it because there's still demand from large companies who have old systems. The larger the company, the greater the chance they'll still have some pretty old systems that still need maintenance or a knowledge of how to export data from them.

More than all that, you'll develop a knack for technical UNDERSTANDING as you continue in dev. Anyone can learn and memorize syntax but knowing how something works means you can write BETTER code than some fresh-out-or-college youngster who earns 1/5th of your salary.

These days I typically charge about $150 an hour for consulting work, and I know there are developers out there who charge a fraction of that, but it'll take them 10 days to write what I can do in 1 day and their code will be full of bugs, scalability issues, and security vulnerabilities, whereas I understand all of those areas and so people keep coming back to me because I just do a better job in every way (so I get to build cool new stuff all the time). I know that sounds like personal bragging but it's something most developers acquire over time by learning from their mistakes. It's just natural progression.

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sarahob profile image
Sarah 🦄 Author

Thanks for sharing, it's great to hear from more experienced people and see there is a path out there. And it's not bragging, it's awesome and inspiring 💪

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nssimeonov profile image
Templar++ • Edited

If you are feeling nostalgic - I know someone who needs fixing an 20years old system, that has some Perl in it.

I know of a different company using Cold Fusion too. :)

These days I typically charge about $150 an hour for consulting work

I'd say you're a bit on the cheap side for what you can offer...

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jhilgeman profile image
Jonathan H

Thanks, but I'm sure there's someone out there who still lives and breathes Perl (and ColdFusion) who would be more cost-efficient than I would be now.

I appreciate the note on the rate. It's a sweet spot for me at the moment, though.

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nssimeonov profile image
Templar++

I remember what I read around 15 years ago on TheDailyWTF.com by Alex Papadimoulis - a project should be considered successful if the customer is using it 10 years later. It's a failure if it's thrown away and replaced by a new one earlier. So all these "rusty" projects are actually very successful, no matter how crappy the code looks - if it still works it's good for the customer.

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jhilgeman profile image
Jonathan H

That was probably more true 15 years ago. In my humble opinion, industry demands have skyrocketed over the past 2 decades in volume and complexity, and we now have cloud services galore, where integration is the new name of the game. Many clients running older systems are also faced with issues that are hard to resolve without replacing the software (e.g. data warehouses that rely on file-based import/export functionality rather than REST/SOAP web services). These days, I'd qualify anything as successful if it makes it past 3-4 years. Who knows whether that will change in the future or not. Just my opinion.

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nssimeonov profile image
Templar++

From the perspective of a software developer - it's successful once you get your paycheck :) It's a problem of your customers if they will keep using it and how long.