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I am a software developer currently working in PHP technology for 2 years. I am also pursuing my M.S program. I decided to change my technology to Java in my existing company.

When I requested my manager on the same, he said he would support me for a change, but he listed out some impacts. A change in technology affects a person's career because, he said, I will be losing experience which I gained in PHP for 2 years.

He also told me to prepare in my mind that I would be competing with freshers when I change technologies.

He also suggested me to work in Java as an interest apart from my work, but I won't get much out of it.

I think I can manage my learning curve, but I am not sure about my career curve. I am confused, like what would happen if I change my company.

I want to change. What would be the impacts for the developer when he/she changes his/her technology?

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closed as off topic by gnat, Oded, jcmeloni Jan 12 '13 at 21:06

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3 Answers 3

up vote 11 down vote accepted

When I look at a resume and I see for example "from 2008-2010 worked as a PHP developer, from 2010-2012 worked as a Java developer" I read that as 4 years of software development experience with a background in Java and PHP. Of course your ability to code in a language you use every day will be greater than your ability to code in a language you haven't written for 2 years. But a few solid weeks of practice should refresh your memory. And those two years you spent writing Java may give you a fresh perspective on PHP, improving the quality of your code.

That said, I think it's important to remember that your project and organization may dictate the language you write code in. For example, if I'm working in a shop that writes embedded C++ firmware for some medical device, I can't simply decide that I want to write Java code now on the same team and project.

Switching languages may also put a burden on your peers who must maintain your code, and management may decide not to permit that. I personally enjoy writing Python. However, I work in a Java shop where the majority of my peers do not know Python. Those peers may someday have to maintain my code. As a result, I rarely write production code in Python, even in cases where I know Python would be simpler or more efficient, because the maintenance burden would outweigh the other benefits.

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2  
Hi Skelly, welcome to the Workplace SE! Thank you for writing such a great first post that fits our Q&A format and site guidelines! To learn more about how Stack Exchange works, some recommended reading is our faq and our about page. –  jmort253 Jan 12 '13 at 19:29

Software development is constant learning. Knowing multiple languages is in my opinion a necessity. When you "switch" from PHP to Java, you don't forget PHP. You gain more knowledge, you don't lose any. Learning new language in a familiar environment (same company) is somewhat easier than getting a new job with 0 experience. Trying to learn something as a hobby is not as effective as having real tasks and experienced coworkers to mentor you.

Both PHP and Java are based on C syntax, so it's not most difficult switch.

Knowing both PHP and Java can be very advantageous in mobile app development - you could work on both mobile (Java) and server (PHP) aspects.

When you change company knowing 2 languages, you can choose from more offers.

The biggest questions are not related to any "switching". Ask yourself: "Do you believe there will be more or better jobs in Java than PHP?" and "Do you like working with Java more than PHP?".

You can't answer the second without trying it.

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The difference is if you go to another company you'll be going with either 2+ years experience with PHP as a PHP developer, or zero years experience with Java as a Java developer.

Since Java and PHP aren't as close to each other it's likely to be viewed as a completely different language by future employers.

It also depends on what you want to do with the Java...are you still going to be working with the web side? Or are you going to be making more "desktop" apps?

However there is no reason why you shouldn't learn Java, at least in your free time. 2 years is not a lot of time and you will still have transferable skills between a Java dev and PHP dev position.

I'd recommend you to first start learning it on your free time and continue working with PHP at work, once you get competent with it, ask your manager if you can move into a Java role.

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Hi Randy, I wasn't the original downvoter, but I'd say someone may have disagreed because being a software developer is about more than just syntax. Sure, some companies/hiring managers may look at your experience syntactically, but there are others out there that measure you based on your ability to acquire new knowledge, store it, and apply it in terms of building new products. Stack Exchange is an example of a company that, while they say they prefer C# experience, would hire a developer who showed immense potential. See Smart and Gets Things Done Hope this helps!:) –  jmort253 Jan 13 '13 at 18:59

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