As the technology industry is racing forward and requires increasingly larger numbers of qualified software developers, this profession also gets more accessible for everyone who wants to learn programming and enjoy the benefits of high demand for talent and generous wages.

Software development veterans with decades of programming experience often share stories of how different this profession was not too far back, when information about programming languages and development processes was limited and only available in printed textbooks, sometimes of dubious quality. Even seniors who started programming just 10-15 years ago agree that it is much easier to be a software developer today, and this is true when it comes to both the ease of acquiring coding skills and performing the actual job after.

But what exactly makes being (and becoming) a programmer today so much easier than it was in, let’s say, twenty years ago? There’s a whole bunch of stuff.

Tools making software developer’s job easier than ever before

1. Git and GitHub.

Git is a free and open source distributed version control system designed to handle everything from small to very large projects with speed and efficiency. Initially released in 2005, Git quickly became an industry standard, allowing developers to have a much better control over changes in code and versions of software projects, as well as making collaboration of multiple coders much, much more efficient and organized.

GitHub is a Git code repository hosting platform for version control and collaboration. First launched in 2008, GitHub became the world’s leading software development platform soon after. GitHub makes it much easier for developers to collaborate and contribute to open source projects, create proper documentation for the code, showcase their work to others, and so on.

Before they appeared on the horizon, the developers had quite a stressful time with uploading all changes directly, and it means you have no right for a failure in what you do.

2. IntelliJ IDEA and other IDEs.

IntelliJ IDEA is an integrated development environment written in Java and able to understand and provide intelligent coding assistance for a large variety of other languages such as SQL, JPQL, PQL, HTML, JavaScript, Kotlin, etc. It also supports multiple other languages, including Scala, Rust, PHP, Ruby and others, via plugin. Even though the first IDE — Microsoft's Visual Basic (VB) — was launched back in 1991, original IDEs were not well received by developers. This changed in the 2000s after the release of IntelliJ IDEA in 2001 as it started to gain adoption in the early 2000s along with adding powerful features and integrations. As a result, by the 2010s IDEs, and IntelliJ IDEA in particular, became a de-facto standard for the majority of software developers.

Before that there wasn’t any convinient environtent for debugging, which is a huge part of developers’ daily routine.

3. Stack Overflow.

When it comes to getting coding-related information, a lot has changed in late 2000s-early 2010s with an increasing number of new message boards and community platforms for developers. Stack Overflow is the most popular online community for developers, visited by more than 50 mln coders each month. Launched in 2008, Stack Overflow made it easier for programmers to exchange knowledge and communicate with each other, and simplified the learning processes for coding beginners.

It may not be a tool, but imagine a life without a global information resource strictly for programmers. Despite they had manuals, books, and mentors (senior developers), it’s pretty much easier to learn now and solve issues.

4. Managed cloud services.

The rising adoption of managed cloud services also played a major role in making the work of modern-day programmers easier. After cloud services such as Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure, launched in 2006 and 2008 respectively, became available and gained mass adoption, programmers no longer need so many people to set up and maintain servers and networks in order for the system to work. Cloud services also made software development a lot more efficient as today developing teams can be smaller and more productive on individual level.

These days you have DigitalOcean, Linode, Google Cloud, AWS, Azure, etc. And all these have a ton of stuff in their arsenal to help your software scale, and work with the minimum downtime.

5. Project management and communication tools: Jira and Slack.

Finally, we definitely should mention Jira and Slack, as well as other similar tools that make project management and communication among developers and other specialists much better organized and planned.

Jira is a proprietary issue tracking solution, first released in 2002, that allows users to plan, track, and manage agile and software development projects. It also has multiple other functions, allowing programmers to collaborate more efficiently, customize the workflow, track bugs and manage the backlog.

Slack is a business communication platform that has multiple messaging and collaboration features such as chat rooms organized by topics, private groups for conversations with several people, video calls and so on. First released in 2009, it quickly became the most popular communication tool for software development teams.

Why becoming a software developer is also easier today than ever before

Of course, as software developer’s work gets easier with new tools and technology development, learning skills required for a professional programmer to have also gets a lot more accessible and beginner-friendly than before. So what has changed in software development education over the last decade or two?

Lots of things. The information increased in volume and became available through multiple sources and in multiple ways, learning technologies have also been enhanced.

Free programming tutorials.

Partially thanks to the availability of great collaboration tools and platforms and as a result of fast-growing developer communities, both online and offline, today beginners wanting to learn a programming language are able to find multiple free tutorials to learn from online.

This is especially true when it comes to massively popular programming languages such as Java. There are loads of free Java tutorials available online. Official Java Tutorials from Oracle are certainly worth a recommendation.

Advanced online learning courses.

The existence of advanced programming learning courses with learning plans, gamification elements, social features, and emphasis on teaching students applicable skills instead of useless theory is another thing making a difference in software development education today.

Not to be immodest, but CodeGym is probably the best example of an advanced online learning course good for total beginners and able to deliver graduates who are fully functional Java developers. CodeGym is perfect for learning how to get better at coding in the most effective way possible — through practice, lots of it. Starting from the very first CodeGym lesson, you will slowly learn the basics of Java, having lots of diverse tasks (puzzles) designed to help you support theoretical knowledge with hands-on practical skills.

Programming prep platforms.

Online preparation platforms where coding beginners can practice and prepare for job interviews is another considerable novelty that just wasn’t there until the 2000-10s. Some of the most popular prep platforms are LeetCode, Interview Cake and HackerEarth. CodeGym, with its more than 1200 tasks also can be classified as a prep platform, by the way. A gamified and fun to use platform, one can add.

YouTube channels, blogs and podcasts about programming.

New media with lots of user-generated content can be a great learning augmentation source, helping beginners to get information straight from experts in their field via YouTube channels, blogs and podcasts.

Coding games.

Finally, some truly great coding games were released. As we know, and CodGym is a living proof, gamification can be a pretty great way to empower your learning and achieve better progress while also having fun in the process. When applied to learning how to code, it helps beginners to grasp the essence of difficult programming concepts and techniques quicker and with less effort.