What would you do?
I am an AS/400 RPG programmer with several years of experience. Over the
past year I have been working with "new" technologies on the job, such as
GUI client/server programming and web development (with ASP & MS-Access).
I just finished an excellent Knowledge Management System (in Visual Age
for RPG), and have experience working on large projects (I am also a former
Y2K project manager). Not bad for a 27 year old!
Because of my background and skillset, I will have first choice among upcoming
projects to work on. However, my background is all technical without much
business knowledge. I would like to expand into more business oriented projects
so that my skillset does not become lopsided.
Upcoming projects include a Data Warehouse (web-based with SQL Server) and
Java development (using Visual Age for Java), among others, but these are
the only ones that interest me. I could easily handle all of these by myself,
since I already possess knowledge in each area. The other programmers I
work with are mostly limited to the AS/400 (by choice/laziness!).
Just so you know, a year ago I planned to move away from the AS/400 and into
the Visual Basic realm, which would have taken place now. So here I am in
"now", but VB is dead, so it is no longer an option, so I plan on going towards
Java or C# on .Net (if it becomes hot). So I think its pretty safe to develop
in Java to gain the OOP experience even if Java could possibly be dead 2
years from now because of Microsoft's sinister plans.
So my question is, should I just focus on Java Development only, or perhaps
work on a small Java project with a duration of a month or two, and then
start on the Data Warehouse? My only concern is that if I choose to develop
the data warehouse that it will take time and experience away from Java development,
but in turn I will gain more business knowledge and get more web development
and SQL Server experience (stored procedures, triggers, etc.) I would also
try to squeeze some XML into the Data Warehouse project since that is such
an important skill to have.
What would you do?
Re: What would you do?
Great choices! Really, neither one would be "wrong".
I'm not a Java programmer, but I find it hard to imagine that Java is going
to die regardless of what Microsoft does. So Java skills would be really
good to have.
However, I myself have done several large-scale data warehouse projects and
they were very valuable to me for a couple reasons:
1. There is no better way to become acquainted with business functions.
While transaction processing applications are the bread-and-butter of corporate
IT, warehouse apps focus on providing the knowledge needed for business strategy.
Now you're not just focusing on how to enter an order or generate an invoice,
you are grappling with issues of profitability, future markets, business
trends. You are learning how the different IT systems talk to each other.
You are trying to translate the "data" into "knowledge" and this is very
2. Often, the warehouse projects put you in front of directors and vice-presidents
rather than data-entry people. It's a big step up in project scope and business
function. If you aspire to future positions like "architect", "systems designer"
or IT management, this is a great opportunity to learn how to deal with people
whose job it is to determine business strategy. Of course, this presupposes
you want to learn how to do this. I've come across tech people that think
anyone who can't configure a server is an idiot and they talk to the VPs
and Directors accordingly. (With the predictable resulting drop in their
3. As you've already pointed out, warehouse apps provide experience in database
design and stored procedures that is also valuable technical knowledge.
So if I hadn't already done a couple warehouses, and I wanted to strengthen
my business knowledge, I would take the warehouse project. But as I said,
you can't go wrong with Java either.
Congratulations and Good Luck!
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