Posted on May 28, 2017


The other day I heard a NodeJS developer state that ‘these days you cannot be a web-developer without knowing about the Command Line Interface’; making me smile as I wondered how many younger members of the development community would actually know that ‘CLI’ has been around a lot longer than Node or Javascript (or, come to that, even WWW!). I tweeted the quote, adding a couple of hashtags, #WhatGoesAroundComesAround and #NewDogOldTricks. Hearing about the resurgence of CLI actually felt like a Good Omen for the retrain journey I’m embarking on.

It’s been quite a while coming; deciding that this migration was finally necessary and then preparing for it. For a long time we web-veterans have just about been ‘getting by’; building beautiful, bespoke websites and adapting to new tips and tricks as they were needed. Most of us saw HTML5 & CSS3 and even Responsive Design as innovative and exciting. We were still down with most of the rad terminology, we could manage most of the skillful maneuvers that kept us balanced as we surfed the crest of the Information Age. However, the arrival of smartphones and the technology that came with them was no longer a wave; it was a tsunami. The almost overnight banishment of Flash animation was one of the first portents just how drastically the development landscape was about to change!

If there is such a thing as a ‘Map of Programming’ then, back in the day, the edge of the map was a blank and even though you might get lost out there and end up crashing your computer in the ‘unknown’, you could still cut your losses and delete your code then head back towards what was known and safe with, at worst, a reinstallation of your operating system for your penance. I remember a day when I talked a friend through his Windows reinstallation; walking him, page by digital page, in my head and over the phone while I was also walking the dog. From ‘95 through XP, I had re-installed Windows so often I knew the process by heart!

Nowadays it’s different; you can get more easily lost in the confusion of what is ‘known’. The paths of knowledge and the various programming disciplines of the old map, once so clearly marked and mutually respected, have been blurred and distorted by endless re-discovery and repeated re-innovation; the new ways of doing old things. The concept of ‘sharing’ that embodies all of today’s internet came to the world of web-development via Github, Codepen and the like. Code is now ‘forked’ and programming problems are halved and solved via forums like StackOverflow. Web inventiveness is no longer solely constructed in the computer labs of companies like Microsoft or Oracle, it’s also being done by teams of people who, likely, have never met each other face to face. Meanwhile, the mass of phone apps that are being created and / or modified is, literally, overwhelming!

Don’t misunderstand me; there’s nothing wrong with anything of the above. Though the pell-mell isn’t perfect by any means, I still think the real world would benefit hugely by complying with the concepts of ‘borderless sharing’ which the digital world thrives on. So far, all of my observations herein are simply a public recognition that my old ways of working as an ‘independent’ are becoming less sustainable. To survive I need to remold my skillset, yet again. But web-development is not a field of knowledge for those who can’t adapt, so I’m good. In the twilight before the Information Age, prior to the dawning of Windows 95, ‘geeks’ were the tribe who knew a little bit of anything about computers; from hardware upgrades to hardwire networking, and most, if not all of those old ‘CLI’ DOS commands. Previous experience is a great source of fresh determination; my concern wasn’t that I could do this, but that prior to analysis and preparation, I was unsure which direction I should metamorphose!

The next #ChangingLanes article will be how Javascript has adapted as well, by leaps and bounds! And why it has necessarily become central to my plans for #ChangingTracks.

Thanks for reading!