I've also been in the industry for over twenty years and have use a variety of programming languages. How about PICK? Anyone heard of that one? The years of old (1980's) we had to build our own code snippets, libraries and read these thick and not well written books on programming.
The Internet has empowered the developer. With it, vast resources can be searched in less time than it take to breath! Good solid answers by technical peers are there!
But again, without the Internet I could still do my designing, developing, documenting.
Yes the Internet has made it easier but what I find that has really made a difference is the advances of the IDE. Whether it's .NET, Java or whatever language . Using an effective IDE that supports intelisence and gives you a clean graphical, powerful and intuitive environment to build the applications in, is probably the most important to me.
I'm more productive than ever before, even though the languages keep evolving and I'm bombarded by new frameworks, design patterns, and technologies. I'm still productive because of my IDE.
As you know, languages have really evolved as well. Now there are discussions about all the new features available to the .NET developer. So many enhancements in such a short time but we still want all the power and ease of building these highly graphical interfaces, so we accept the changes - bitch a little - and then use them.
So to sum up before I write a book here, my order of what has made programming easier are:
- A graphical IDE
- The language (C#/VB.NET/Java) evolving
- New frameworks and technologies (WSE, ...)
- The Internet - because we need an open unbiased, unfiltered source of information
BTW... Good Question.