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Today I want to tackle a question I keep hearing from many folks: how to keep up with new technologies.

The tech industry is constantly evolving, and new technologies, tools, and frameworks are being released every day.

I totally get that it can be overwhelming to keep up with all these changes, especially if you have a full-time job, family, and other commitments.

But to remain relevant in the industry, advance your career (and have fun in the process), you need to stay up-to-date with new technologies and trends.

So let me share with you the 5 steps I’ve been using over the years to keep up with new technologies and stay ahead of the curve.

Let’s dive in.

Step 1: Embrace change and stay curious

Instead of feeling intimidated by new technologies, try to view them as opportunities to expand your skill set, improve your products or services, and stay relevant in the industry.

For instance, a few years ago, when I was a Microsoft employee, most teams were using Azure Virtual machines or cloud services for their deployments. Few people knew about Docker and Kubernetes, which were very new but promised to revolutionize the way we deploy applications to the cloud.

I could have stayed in my current team and just keep using the existing tech. But I decided to transfer to the Azure Container Registry team, which used both Docker and Kubernetes day in and day out. Not an easy ramp-up, but I learned a lot and it was worth it.

The truth is, what you know today will inevitably become outdated tomorrow. So, it’s essential to stay curious and open to learning new things every single day.

But how to stay in the loop and keep up with new technologies?

Step 2: Stay in the loop

Ok, now you have accepted that change is inevitable and you are ready to embrace it. Next step is to stay in the loop.

Here are a few ways to do that:

1. Follow industry leaders on social media

Twitter, LinkedIn, and other social media platforms are great places to follow industry leaders and influencers. They often share the latest news, trends, and insights that can help you stay informed about new technologies.

I do my best to share what I learn on Twitter (@julioc) but if you are in the .NET and Azure space like me, make sure you follow folks like Scott Hanselman and David Fowler, as well as key Microsoft accounts like @dotnet, @msdev and @azure and essential hashtags like #csharp, #dotnet, and #aspnetcore.

2. Watch key tech conferences

Big annual conferences like Microsoft Build, Google I/O, AWS re:Invent, and others are great places to learn about the latest or upcoming technologies, tools, and best practices.

Most of these conferences offer free live streams or recordings of their sessions, so you can watch them from the comfort of your home or office.

Since I’m in the .NET and Azure space, I always make sure to watch at the very least the keynotes and the top sessions from Microsoft Build, and .NET Conf. Microsoft Build 2024 starts in a few weeks, don’t miss it!

3. Subscribe to tech newsletters, YouTube channels and podcasts

There are usually times across my day when I get 15 to 30 minutes to spare. Either at lunchtime, during your daily commute, or while waiting for a meeting to start.

Use that time to read newsletters, watch YouTube videos or listen to podcasts that cover the latest tech news, trends, and tutorials.

I personally like the Platformer newsletter, the .NET YouTube channel and the Hard Fork podcast.

Now, staying in the loop is good, but it’s not enough.

Step 3: Start learning the latest tech

If you stay in the loop you will start noticing things that are becoming popular or that are being used by the industry. Those are the technologies you should start learning.

What should you be learning today? It certainly depends on your interests and your career goals, but if you are in the .NET and Azure space like me, here are a few technologies that are a must:

1. ASP.NET Core

ASP.NET Core is at the core of most web applications built with .NET and deployed to Azure today. Specifically, you need to learn how to:

  • Create a Web/REST API backend
  • Use Entity Framework Core for data access
  • Create interactive frontend apps with Blazor
  • Create background services
  • Create real-time applications with SignalR
  • Secure your APIs with JWTs and OIDC
  • Use gRPC for high-performance APIs
  • Write automated tests for your applications
  • Deploy your applications to Azure

2. Databases

Databases are at the core of most applications. You should learn how to use at least one of these relational databases:

  • SQL Server
  • PostgreSQL
  • MySQL

And at least one of these NoSQL databases:

  • MongoDB
  • Cassandra
  • Redis

3. Message Brokers

Message brokers are essential for building distributed systems. You should learn how to use at least one of these services:

  • RabbitMQ
  • Apache Kafka
  • Azure Service Bus

4. Azure Services

Azure is the cloud platform of choice for most .NET developers. You should learn how to use at least the following Azure-related technologies and services:

  • Docker
  • Kubernetes
  • SQL Database
  • Blob Storage
  • Service Bus
  • Container Registry
  • Container Apps
  • Key Vault
  • Managed Identities

5. Building CI/CD pipelines

CI/CD pipelines are essential to automate your entire software delivery process, from source control to build, test, and deployment. You should learn at least one of these services:

  • Azure DevOps
  • GitHub Actions
  • GitLab
  • Jenkins

6. Monitor and troubleshoot your applications

You should learn how to monitor and troubleshoot your applications in production. For this, you should learn how to use:

  • OpenTelemetry
  • Azure Application Insights, Jaeger or Zipkin
  • Azure Application Insights or Prometheus + Grafana
  • Azure Application Insights, Seq or ELK Stack

7. Cloud native development with .NET Aspire

Cloud native applications are designed to take full advantage of the cloud and over time most web applications will become cloud native.

And, we .NET developers are in luck because .NET now includes an entirely new stack called .NET Aspire, which is revolutionizing the way we build cloud native applications with .NET.

It is still in preview as of this writing but should be generally available in the next few months.

To get started with .NET Aspire check the official docs here, read my newsletter article here or watch my YouTube video here.

Step 4: Build something

Now that you know what you should be learning, it’s time to put that knowledge into practice.

Don’t just watch a few tutorials or read a few articles and call it a day. Instead, build something with your own hands, from scratch, using the tech you are trying to learn.

That’s the best way to learn and retain new information. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

1. E-Commerce Platform: Build a full-featured e-commerce website that supports user registration, product listings, and an online payment system. This project should implement features such as product search, shopping cart, and order tracking.

2. Social Media Platform: Create a social media platform that allows users to create profiles, post updates, and connect with other users. This project should implement features such as user authentication, authorization, and real-time notifications.

3. Blogging Platform: Develop a blogging platform that allows users to create, edit, and publish blog posts. This project should implement features such as rich text editing, image uploads, and comment moderation.

4. Chat Application: Create a chat application that allows users to send messages, create chat rooms, and join group conversations. This project should implement features such as real-time messaging, user presence, and message history.

5. Online Learning Platform: Build an online learning platform that allows users to enroll in courses, watch video lectures, and complete assignments. This project should implement features such as a course catalog, enrollment tracking, and progress reporting.

And, after you build it, and deploy it to Azure, make sure to share it with the world. You can write a blog post about your project, create a YouTube video tutorial, or share it on GitHub for others to see and learn from.

Step 5: Apply your learning at work

If you already have a job where you are using obsolete tech, services or libraries, find ways to apply your new knowledge to your current projects.

For instance, if you have an ASP.NET Core app that you usually deploy by copying the files to a virtual machine, try using Docker to containerize it and deploy it to either a Docker instance in that same VM or to an Azure service like Azure Container Apps or AKS.

Or if you are doing tons of manual work to build, test and deploy your applications, try automating that process with a CI/CD pipeline via Azure DevOps or GitHub Actions.

Yes, doing things differently will take more time at first, and it may be hard to get buy-in from your boss, but it will pay off in the long run. You will solidify your learnings, increase your skills, and you will be more valuable to your employer.

Wrapping Up

Staying up-to-date with new technologies is essential to remain relevant in the industry and advance your career.

By embracing change, staying in the loop, learning the latest tech, building something, and applying your learning at work, you can keep up with new technologies and stay ahead of the curve.

Remember, the tech industry is constantly evolving, and what you know today will become outdated tomorrow.

So, keep learning!

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