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Your Thoughts on a Career Change

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Ok - I'm not really asking for advice per se because I know that no one could have intimate enough knowledge of me and my situation. However, I would really like to hear the thoughts of those who, like myself, who have been in the software development industry for a good while now. Let me give you a quick background...

I work in a J2EE shop. My current contract will end this summer and I have it on good authority that neither mine, nor anyone else's, will be renewed. So, I have been looking for other work. Most of my recent experience lies with Java and I enjoy working with Java and related technologies (Struts, Hibernate, Groovy, etc.). I have several irons in the fire, and I recently talked with a company that does some really interesting work with Ajax. They created a Java to Ajax framework that is pretty cool - something similar to GWT, but (I think) better. The job they are interviewing me for is almost completely Javascript (server side and client side). I didn't realize this until I got into the interview as my recruiters were either mis-informed or didn't know the difference between Java and Javascript. I have experience with Javascript, but it's not my favorite language. Plus, I've invested years and a lot of money becoming a Java expert. The problem is, the job pays very well and has great benefits. Plus the environment is creative and laid-back and the team I'd be working with is very cool. But I'm just not sure it would be the best move, career wise. That's partly to do with the fact that I don't really know that much about Javascript other than the occasional simple client side hacking I have to do a few times a month (I have read the "Rhino book", but that was years ago). But from what I've seen, I have not enjoyed it that much. Is there more to Javascript that I'm missing? Is there any chance that it support actual objects or become more fun to develop with in the near future?

I guess I'm trying to figure out if it would be worth it, career wise, to take such a position. Anyone have any insight on what it's like to work almost exclusively with Javascript? Do you think this would be a plus or a minus on my resume?

8 Comments On This Entry

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Amadeus Icon

25 February 2008 - 07:09 AM
My work with Javascript over the years has been like yours - somewhat peripheral. That being said, it likely would be an asset on your resume given the continued heavy shift towards AJAX applications currently underway. Should the proposed future of distributed computing apps really take off, AJAX will play a large part.
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Programmist Icon

25 February 2008 - 08:25 AM

Amadeus, on 25 Feb, 2008 - 08:09 AM, said:

My work with Javascript over the years has been like yours - somewhat peripheral. That being said, it likely would be an asset on your resume given the continued heavy shift towards AJAX applications currently underway. Should the proposed future of distributed computing apps really take off, AJAX will play a large part.


It had crossed my mind about AJAX and how big it has gotten, but I wasn't sure about whether doing pure JS coding would really be that beneficial given all of the frameworks out there now that shield you from it. What do you think?
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girasquid Icon

25 February 2008 - 08:54 AM

Programmist, on 25 Feb, 2008 - 08:25 AM, said:

Amadeus, on 25 Feb, 2008 - 08:09 AM, said:

My work with Javascript over the years has been like yours - somewhat peripheral. That being said, it likely would be an asset on your resume given the continued heavy shift towards AJAX applications currently underway. Should the proposed future of distributed computing apps really take off, AJAX will play a large part.


It had crossed my mind about AJAX and how big it has gotten, but I wasn't sure about whether doing pure JS coding would really be that beneficial given all of the frameworks out there now that shield you from it. What do you think?


I think there are still gains to be made by doing 'pure' coding, without a framework.

For example, implementing drag-and-drop - using Prototype or Mootools, I would have ended up having to link at least a 24Kb Javascript file for the framework, in addition to however large my code to actually get the drag-and-drop working was. Writing it myself without frameworks, the finished product came in at about 2Kb. That doesn't really sound like a big deal, but one of the things people building AJAX apps tend to look for is transfer speed - they want the fastest website with the biggest bang for the smallest transfer size. So there are still gains to be made by doing 'pure' coding, because your file sizes will still be smaller - and it helps to know how to build something without needing a framework to handle all the 'dirty work' for you.
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1lacca Icon

26 February 2008 - 06:47 AM
I do not try to advise anything, I just know that I myself prefer Java coding magnitudes better than Javascript. When I am pushed to do things on the client-side I'll do it, but I always think that it is such a pain (no matter if your code is standard compliant, some browsers are even more standards aware, or invent their own, or just simply have really different performance features), that is against my common sense to develop in it for more than a day. I just try to stear away from that path, and leave it to those who put their life on that technology.
About the future toolkit: if it is clearly superior to GWT, then it might worth a look, but the advertisement and power behind GWT that is called Google, and it is nothing to forget about. If they'll be your competition, then the fight can be really hard (however if won, it could be really rewarding). I wish it luck, since all the other would profit from it anyway. I know that you are experienced enough so that you know what you are talking about, and this thing and the company behind it might be a really big sleeper hit, and as it sounds they do have their resources to make it work.
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Programmist Icon

26 February 2008 - 01:16 PM
I think the biggest things for me are 1) enjoyment and 2) ROI (Return on Investment).

1) Enjoyment - I enjoy programming in Java and related technologies. Spring, Struts. Guice, Hibernate, etc...they are all enjoyable. There are days when it's not fun, but for the most part there is so much R&D going on with new features and JVM languages that it's hard NOT to get interested. Pure Javascript on the other hand seems, for lack of a better word, thin. The place I'm talking about uses no frameworks or IDEs. It's pretty much Javascript written in NotePad. I want to keep an open mind, but I'm having a hard time believing that I'll enjoy it. I'm a hacker (original definition) and therefore I am, by nature, lazy. What I mean is, I hate rewriting the same code over and over. IDE's do a lot of things, but one of the main functions I use them for is automatic code completion. Do you think I create POJOs and hand code all of the get/set methods? Hell no. Eclipse does that boring work for me. I rarely ever actually type the entire name of a class. I type the first few letters and then hit the magic Ctrl+Space combo and let Eclipse complete it for me (and add any imports). No one likes writing boilerplate code. But if I work with JS and Notepad that's about 50% of what I'll be writing. Maybe if I got in there I could convince them to pay for Aptana or some other JS IDE.

2) ROI - I've invested a LOT of time and money over the past few years into Java and related technologies. When I started learning Java I didn't realize things would work out the way they have, but in 2008 I can see that I have backed a winner. The evidence is plentiful and well paying jobs. Spending even a year in a pure JS shop might detract from my investment and make it more difficult to get back into a Java role if I wanted to. Would the investment in JS make up for that? I don't know. I wish I had a crystal ball that would tell me whether JS will win out or get more interesting.

I guess I was hoping someone here would enlighten me and tell me just how cool JS is and that I'm totally off base. :) But from the research I'm doing and what I'm hearing it seems that my initial estimate is correct: Javascript is an ancillary language. It may take on primary roles at times (AJAX), but it's little more than a scripting glue that doesn't really have proper objects and is rarely the right choice outside of a browser.

Please feel free ot correct me if I'm wrong.
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Programmist Icon

05 March 2008 - 08:38 PM
Last week I politely took myself out of the running. Since then I've received many more leads and have been on a few more good interviews (and more to come). I was so concerned about throwing away a "bird in the hand" that I forgot that Java developer positions are plentiful and pay very well at the moment.
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oubless Icon

18 March 2008 - 01:11 AM
Just a note ( even too late ) about java script:
It is quite hard to learn to write optimized JS, It is worth the investment if you work on webapps, but still it is harder to write and debug Javascript compared to Java. In my current job I'm working with both of them. Actually when talking about object Javascript has some good points that I wish I could use in Java ( like the JSON - the easiest way I have seen to configure an instance of some class:
...new SomeClass( { property1:value1, property2:value2, propertyArray:[value1,value2,value3]} );


but ... as much as I like JS I still prefer Java.
BTW, What do you mean by JS on the server side - ASP or Java 6 based ( using scripting ) or something else?
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Programmist Icon

18 March 2008 - 02:41 AM

oubless, on 18 Mar, 2008 - 01:11 AM, said:

but ... as much as I like JS I still prefer Java.
BTW, What do you mean by JS on the server side - ASP or Java 6 based ( using scripting ) or something else?

From that I was told it was the Rhino engine running on the back-end. I don't know much else as I did not pursue it.

Javascript is a necessary evil in web apps these days and I don't ind using it in ways that are more efficient (Dojo). But there's no way I would willingly write pure Javascript boilerplate code day in and day out.
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