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Can you remain a fullstack developer?

I started as a full stack developer 14 years ago but these days its becoming more and more difficult to remain a one. Back in those days all you needed to know was html/css/Js/jsp/java/sql/ant/xml and some tools like tomcat, svn, eclipse and some shell scripting and you are a full stack developer. Being full stack developer means you can code from UI layer to server to database and peel any layer of onion to trace an issue.

Now a days you may need to know 20 different technologies in each area before you can easily navigate between layers. Life becomes difficult if its a distributed system. In UI you may need to know
  1. React
  2. Angular
  3. Jquery
  4. SASS
  5. HTML5
  6. Javascript
  7. Node.js
  8. Grunt and many more
In server you need to know
  1. Java
  2. Spring
  3. Hibernate or any OR tool
  4. Guava
  5. Nginx
  6. Haproxy
  7. Memcached and many more. 
In Database you may need to know
  1. Mysql
  2. NOSQL databases like Cassandra or MongoDB
  3. Sharding
  4. AWS Aurora or RDS
  5. ElasticSearch
  6. Redis
  7. OpenTSDB
  8. Hadoop 
  9. Big data services like BigQuery and many more
On top of that now Mobile has made life worse as it another ecosystem. I will soon write a post on my adventures in trying to build and iOS app without mac as I dont own a one. For doing mobile development you may need to know
  1. iOS development langugages like Objective, Cocoa
  2. Android development, by luck its java
  3. Hybrid app dev tool like ionic or Sencha touch with Phonegap
  4. Flurry
  5. Also you need to own mac, iphone, ipad, android and many more devices with you.
  6. Signup for Ios and Android developer accounts which costs $$.
  7. and many more.
In terms of tools you may need to know
  1. Maven or ant or Gradle
  2. Jenkins
  3. AWS/Azure/GCE and their ecosystem
  4. Python
  5. New relic or mix panel
  6. Svn/git/JIRA/Pivotal/Reviewboard
  7. Eclipse
  8. shell scripting
  9. Logstash
  10. Sendgrid or postfix
So given all this can you remain a full stack developer. I was at an architecture conference by ThoughtWorks and someone popped this same question to Martin Fowler, and his answer was "Yes its possible". You need to grow like a 'T' where you are deep in 1-2 layers but you should atleast know enough about the other layers to make a good decision. As for me I read a lot of stuff but try only a few. For me the best way to keep up with technologies is to keep signing up for new and hard projects and join a startup early enough that you are involved in lot of layers, doing a lot of grunt work, you would be forced to learn many of these things. Also if someone outside of work asks for help, if you can then don’t say no, if it sounds interesting just give it a try even if its free work, who knows you would learn a thing or two.

Martin Fowler at Dallas


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