How Programming Has Changed Over the Last Decade

Software programming has grown exponentially in complexity and volume over the years, but especially so since 2010. But why?

Read on to find out. 


Is it easier to program?

The level of difficulty of anything new you learn is dictated by your dedication to the task, willingness to apply your knowledge and make mistakes, curiosity about the subject, and the amount of time you invest. For this reason, programming is not that much harder to learn than any other new skill — like, say, learning a foreign language. 

In fact, with programming that is effectively what you are doing, except the language learned is used to “speak” to computers rather than human beings. 

software programming change desk
Source: Maryna Andriichenko/iStock

If you are interested in becoming a programmer, or fancy a career change, learning to code will open up a whole new world of opportunities for you. You will be able to work on fascinating projects and, often, command a very healthy income. 

In fact, any of the various disciplines of computer programming have shown very strong growth in demand over the last few years. 

However, there is a barrier to entry for a career in coding — you will need to know how to code. While intimidating from the off, especially if you have no experience in it, coding is not that hard to learn (honest). 

You will need to be patient and take your time going from basic principles to learning more advanced elements of any coding language you choose to learn. There are plenty of resources out there for you to learn to code which can either be paid for (usually the most structured way to learn), or completely free, like YouTube tutorials, etc.

If you are a complete beginner we thoroughly recommend you check out apps like SoloLearn to get you started. This platform offers a wide suite of popular language to learn and the courses are very well structured and easy to follow. 

is programming hard
Source: tamasrepus/Flickr

It offers both free and paid for subscriptions, and you are awarded certificates of completion at the end of each course! Win, win. 

By carving out the time you need to dedicate to learning a particular language, you will get to grips with the basics in no time. 

One piece of advice that will help speed up your learning experience is to create your own “pet project”. This can be anything from a program to help plan your finances, to making a simple game — it really doesn’t matter. 

By forcing yourself to put the theory of computer language into practice you will rapidly learn through trial and error. If you do get stuck, resources like Stack Overflow is packed with example code for different functions, which you can modify to fit your needs. 

However, it is highly recommended you try to create a solution yourself first, even if you don’t always have to reinvent the wheel. 

In fact, as a beginner, it is often very useful to reverse engineer existing code to see how it works. 

software programming difficult
Source: milindri/iStock

If you are a complete novice, also to learn to walk before you can run. Choose simpler languages like HTML, PHP, etc to get a feel for the profession. 

While the “grammar” and “vocabulary” of different computer programming language does vary, the basic “logic” of writing commands to make something happen are transferrable between them all. You just need to learn how to “say” the commands in that particular language. 

Learning to code is great fun when you get into it, so don’t waste another second procrastinating. Get stuck in!

How hard is it to learn to program?

As we have previously mentioned, learning to code isn’t that hard. Just pick a language to learn and make sure you dedicate the time to master it. 

Most importantly, make sure you build something at the same time as learning a new language too. The benefits of a “pet project” when learning any new skill are beyond measure. 

software programming is easy
Source: Markus Spiske/Flickr

But again, just like choosing a language to learn, don’t bite off more than you can chew. Start with something simple like a basic word game, calculator, etc.

You can then start to ramp up the complexity over time as you learn new facets of a particular language. 

Let’s take an example “learning path” for a programmer. 

Let’s say you, as a novice programmer, want to automate some MS Office documents? Perhaps you want to make an MS Excel spreadsheet print out a report in MS Word? 

This kind of functionality may require you to learn some Visual Basic for Applications (VBA). From there you may find you start to tinker around with databases on MS Access or using SQL databases as databases offer much more scope for automation than spreadsheets alone. 

is programming hard
Source: DragonImages/iStock

Once you have a robust handle on databases, you may wish to place your new document automation system online or gather data from customers via a website instead of manually entering them.

Not only that, but as you come up with more ideas, and you may want to add more and more functionality to your system. 

So, you could start building SQL databases online and then discover you need to master HTML and PHP to query, insert and update records, etc on the SQL database through a webpage for it to actually work. 

From there you could soon notice that that other programming languages, like Javascript, Python, etc offer better results for functions you wish to include in your project. Along the way, you might also notice that you need CSS to make your website look nice!

In no time at all, you have suddenly developed working knowledge, perhaps even mastery, of HTML, SQL, PHP, Javascript, Python, CSS, VBA all because you, initially, wanted to automate documents through a website! 

This kind of path is very organic, and you will slowly build on your knowledge over time as you hit problems you want to solve. It really will be a running battle of trial and error, major successes, and some abject failures!

is coding hard
Source: Pexels

Just stick to your guns and try different solutions to problems until one works. Such a process will also teach the limitations and benefits of particular coding languages over the others. 

Not to labor the point, but programming is really not that hard. You just need to have a “purpose” behind you learning to code. 

Just give it a go! Who knows, you may find your true passion in life? 

How has programming changed over the last 10 years?

If you are tempted to start your journey through the world of programming you need to also be aware that it is a rapidly developing field. None less so than over the last decade.

Even compared to just ten years ago, professional coders are managing a lot more code. Not only that, but they have to handle more languages for more platforms than ever. 

how has programming changed
Chart showing the increase in the volume of coding over the last decade. Source: ARStechnica/Dimensional Research

This amazing finding came from a recent report issued by Dimensional Research on behalf of Sourcegraph (a company that specializes in universal code search), who polled 500 North American software developers to find issues in code complexity and management. They found that those programmers polled, agreed that software has generally gotten bigger, more complex, and much more important since 2010. 

Some of the major highlights from the poll included the following findings: 

Today, programmers are handling much more code than before

As we have already highlighted above, there is much more code around today than in 2010. That might not come as a surprise, but what does is the actual volume of overall that has changed. 

More than half of the respond developers reported a growth of more than 100-fold! Some of this can be explained by an increase in complexity, as well as, the need to serve various platforms too. 

This is especially true for web developers who need to accommodate different platforms, libraries, and dependencies. Not to mention supported architectures, devices, languages, repositories, and more.

Many companies are now “tech” companies

Another reason for the increase in code volume is the fact that many companies have since evolved into tech companies over the last decade. Especially those not generally considered as real “tech” companies. 

how programming has changed tech
Chart showing the increase in traditionally non-tech companies now acting like a tech company. Source: ARStechnica/Dimensional Research

Insurance companies, retail businesses, and even food and beverage companies have embraced the need to develop apps and other software solutions of their own. 

91 percent of the poll’s respondents said that their non-technology company operates more like a technology company than it did back in 2010. Again, those in know should not be surprised by this at all.

Even companies like Walmart Labs sponsor open source technology conferences and delivering presentations, after all. 

So, if your interest has been piqued by the very real challenge, and potential reward, that learning to code can offer, now is as good a time as any to get started. The next decade and more are going to see an ever-increasing demand for programmers, so it might be a savvy choice for an undergraduate or seasoned professional looking to shift gears.

If you are planning on going for it, let us be the first to wish you all the very best of luck! You will not regret it.