Developer technical regression

Developer technical regression

Developer technical regression

I love talking to companies about their software development problems. Most issues revolve around employee retention, recruitment and the quality of work. One aspect of recruitment companies don’t understand is developer’s desire to not regress technically.

Legacy Code

There is a vast amount of legacy code out there. To me, legacy code is the code upon which the business has been built. That code has been modified over time to suit the needs of the changing business. Successful companies will have legacy code. However, that legacy code has a long-term price attached to it.

Legacy code repels developers

As software developers move jobs, technology moves on. New companies and software developers want to build with the latest technologies and practices. This leaves a real problem for companies with legacy code. How can they attract cutting-edge developers while having a large legacy codebase? In short, they can’t.

Not moving forward is expensive

They will have to look for developers in an ever-shrinking pool of candidates who know those legacy technologies. As time moves on, these developers will become harder and harder to find as they move to newer and newer technologies because that is what the market demands. In short, developers understand that technical regression hurts their employability. Fewer companies want those skills, and those skills will tend to pay less. Here’s short list of national salaries I could find on Dice and Indeed:

Language Average Salary Number of Jobs
Visual Basic $85,000 296
VB.NET (no C#) $87,000 1253
C# $106,000 7790
Node.JS $117,000 409

There are many caveats to this data. It’s not scientific and the numbers aren’t entirely accurate. However, it does show the trend. Older technologies pay less. As developers, it is in our best financial interest to move forward. Newer (or hotter) technologies pay more as they gain traction.

Companies must invest in technology updates

Here’s the hard part. It’s in the companies best interest to move forward as well. Just like a new roof on a house, companies should be saving for a capitol reinvestment into their technology. It will extend the longevity of their platform, lead to less employee turnover, and enable better recruitment.

Good developers won’t regress

Developer technical regression is a serious concern for developers who truly love technology. Most will refuse to work on old systems using old technologies. This is the hallmark of a good developer. These developers value their hard-fought skill and want to work for companies which value them.

Companies should follow

Developers should keep moving their skill sets forward. Companies should move forward as well.