I like to end every year with a TechRepublic article retrospective on the past 12 months and start the year with insights on what I plan to focus on and what I think will be important for this audience. For 2012, I think HTML5, Windows 8, and mobile development are the only development topics worth talking about. As far as I am concerned, anything that isn't one of those three topics (or helps to support one of those three) has already been discussed and explained pretty deeply here and elsewhere and is past-tech. If you aren't working towards an understanding of HTML5 and mobile development, you will become out of date very soon. For the mass consumer market, desktop apps are basically dead, and for typical business application usage, they typically hold little advantage.
Windows 8 is more of a "let's wait and see" topic, simply because it is not quite clear if Microsoft will make the changes needed to the legacy desktop for it to succeed on the desktop or if hardware makers will embrace it in the mobile form factor. Unfortunately, to the majority of developers, it is also quite foreign. Unless you've been playing with WP7 or Silverlight/WPF, Windows 8 is basically a new skill set other than the languages and a subset of the libraries.
A lot of readers here feel that Windows 8 isn't important and may be dismayed at the amount of attention that I seem to pay it compared to HTML5, but don't worry, I am writing about HTML5. My HTML5 content is often going to appear in TechRepublic's Web Designer blog. If you do not subscribe to the Web Designer newsletter, I highly encourage you to do so to ensure that you don't miss the HTML5 related content that you want and need.
Likewise, for those who are interested in tooling, I have been writing a fair number of articles for TechRepublic's Five Apps blog, many of which are specific to developers. If you want to learn about some of the tools available for development tasks, subscribing to the Five Apps newsletter will keep you on top of the situation. And the majority of my mobile development articles (currently they are WP7-specific) appear in TechRepublic's App Builder blog, which also has a weekly newsletter that features mobile development content.
My plan for 2012 is to continue writing in each of these areas. In Software Engineer, I will continue to focus on the topics that typical business developers face, which means backend services such as WCF, Web development technologies, and desktop/native technologies. I will also keep an eye to the future, rooted in the needs of business developers.
At some point I will either delve into ASP.NET MVC or jump ship (or is that "jump the shark"?) entirely to either Ruby on Rails or Python + Django (blame Chip Camden for that recommendation, his opinion goes a long way with me). I also plan to write about Windows 8 development on a regular basis, because I feel it is the only non-Apple OS that stands a chance in the tablet market. I also happen to believe that in the future, tablets with docking stations for "real work" will be the norm, and true desktops running a full desktop OS (like Windows 7 or OS X) will be a nice product for specialist work. I may be wrong, but all of the industry players have gone all in on this position, so hanging onto the current paradigm is likely to lead to disappointment. It is a little harder for me to talk about some of these technologies (Ruby on Rails, ASP.NET MVC, Python + Django), since I won't be using them for my day job or my freelance work, but I will see how far I can take them. I will continue to discuss the Agile Platform, since it is what I use in my freelance work and get a lot of hands-on time with it to develop actual applications.
If you want a one stop shop for my content, your best bet is to friend me on Facebook, where I post links to all of my articles. I often post about politics and other non-IT stuff on Facebook, but it is always respectful and professional. Maybe one day I'll do a separate Facebook page just for this stuff, or set up a Twitter account, but I really value having true "conversations" with people, and Facebook is the best tool around for that.
Have a great 2012!
Justin James is an OutSystems MVP, architect, and developer with expertise in SaaS applications and enterprise applications.