Facebook and Udacity have created a shortcut for those looking to make a switch from hardware engineering to software programming.

It’s called React Native. It’s a single Javascript framework that developers are increasingly using to write programmes for the web, Apple’s iPhone and Android handsets.

Facebook developed the framework a couple of years back, tired of needing to maintain separate specialist teams in Javascript (web), Objective C (Apple) and Android tools. The framework is catching on now with a number of start-ups, AirBnB being one of the most visible.

Jumping into the trend, Udacity launched a four-month online certification in React. The course is part of what Udacity calls its nanodegree programme, focusing on tech skills in commercial demand, often with links to hiring partners.

Although it’s only a couple of years old, one survey of more than 20,000 developers showed that almost 20% are using React. Another survey showed that their average base salary is $90,000.

Not bad, but React is not a panacea. It trades flexibility for performance, so don’t try to build a game or media app with it, said Tyler McGinness, a React expert and one of the teachers of the $499 course.

I know that many hardware engineers make a fine living and sometimes look down their noses at the skill sets of software developers. But I also know that for years, an increasing share of the value of any electronics product has been moving into software and services. The Internet of Things is accelerating the trend.

Silicon Valley has already become known more as the home of Facebook, Google and LinkedIn than Intel, Fairchild and Hewlett-Packard. I imagine that a new generation of great companies will be born in the next 20 years around the IoT, and many of them may use tools like React.

So whether you are considering a career shift or just keeping current, this may be an opportunity for you to bone up on your soft skills. While React may be on the rise, I know that a rising tide of neural network frameworks and tools are going ballistic.

First published by EE Times U.S.