Next year I will have been developing software as a job for 40 years. I graduated in mid 1981 and three months later started my first job in October 1981. To say that things have changed enormously would be an understatement. Back then there was no internet so information was limited to three sources: Books, magazines and what you learnt yourself.
Along the way I have used commercially a large number of programming languages: BASIC (8k Basic on Apple II and ACT Sirius- a precursor to the IBM PC), CBasic on Dec Rainbow, Z80 assembler for home computers (MSX, Zx Spectrum and Amstrad CPC 464), 6502 for CBM Vic-20 and CBM-64 (and also one project for the rarely heard of CBM-16) then Turbo Pascal on CP/M and MsDos machines, Turbo C++, Ada, Delphi (4,5,7,9 and XE7) , SQL, HTML, PHP, CSS,Java, C and C# (with Xamarin for mobile). As well as the ebook (C) I’m working on two side projects (C#and MonoGame).
Back in the day pre-internet when I wanted to do graphics, I had to figure them out myself. Things like Turbo Pascal came with thick manuals that you more or less learnt, To draw rectangles on the CBM-64 in hires mode. I figured out how to draw them and finished a game in 6 weeks. Recently I’ve been doing the same using MonoGame for mobile game development. I did a quick search of Google, found a library in SourceForge or GitHub, downloaded it and fitted it in. No big manuals to learn, just knowing how to find stuff on the web, make sure the licence allows its use and I can understand its source code enough to use it.
Intellisense also helps. No more knowing that such and such a function has three parameters, you just type in the name and it shows the parameters and their types. Is it more productive than before the web? I think so but there’s also more distractions.
Do I miss those days when things were a lot simpler? A little but I know I’d miss being able to find things with Google, on StackOverflow, even in Wikipedia etc. Things can be a lot more complicated but I think I’m way more productive.