When I first started using Spring all it was for me was the dependency injection framework with stupid XML config and training that takes forever, costs a fortune and makes no sense. Remember, I came from a world where documentation was pristine (for both Turbo Pascal and Delphi), examples came in spades and the classes started with a T and all interfaces with I. All the separation of concern, testability and other ilities were not so needed in the Delphi world. Also inheritance was in the zone (now we all know it's bad and should be avoided). With Java everything was different and I felt lost.
I turned my attention to something I though would be a little bit more familiar - the .NET framework and C# language. Oh boy was I happy to see the notion of properties built into the language (so missed in Java). I though I've had the world by the balls with this one: modern platform, fantastic language (created by the same guy who created Pascal and Delphi) so I was right at home.
At that time job opportunities for C# web application developers were scarce and so I was sort of forced to stay with Java. At first I hated it with a passion (http://www.ihatejsf.com). In the mean time along came Guice and showed me why dependency injection makes sense and how to do it right. After some time I learned to live with it mostly because I discovered that there's more to it that meets the eye. Basically I learned about Groovy and Grails. That was the sweet spot for me: elegant and dynamic language, similar to Java but oh so much more powerful and a framework that finally doesn't suck like JSF did. That was the best time ever!
With time wisdom came and I started looking around what else can be done with this thing. That was the time when JavaEE 6 came out with Glassfish 3 (man you really have got to love something that's called Glassfish, don't you?). Finally all the stupid things like web.xml went away, web services creation started to be a breeze and all was cool again. Then I leared about EJB3 and all that comes with it. Can't say I was happy with what I saw after living on Grails, Guice and Spring for a while.
Now it's years later. I'd describe myself as TDD junkie with a healthy dose of polyglot programming skills. I've learned a great deal about the so called Spring programming model. I've learned a lot about Spring and the modules it brings to the fold. I learned not to hate XML. I've learned Ruby and got acquainted with Sinatra. Every day is a new challenge and every day I learn more. The more I learn the less I write and the more I integrate.
During all that time there has been only one constant: Internet. All I know, all I ever learned beyond the 6502 assembler, 68k assembler, Pascal, Turbo Vision, Delphi and VCL (which I learned ages ago from dead-tree books) came from the Internet. This is the best, most demanding and absolutely the most rewarding university in the world. All this because of open source projects and awesome communities that make the world go around these days.
It's a beautiful time to be a programmer!