A Career as Software Developer
A software developer is an IT specialist who designs, implements and maintains software and applications. In practice this can be an e-commerce platform, for example, or mobile apps, operating systems or video games. He does this with the help of various programming languages such as Java, C ++ or PHP. Since the activities of the software developer are very diverse, the job profile of the software developer also combines activities from the range of tasks of a programmer or an application developer. Software developers mostly work in system and software houses, information and communication technology companies or with IT service providers, but they also find employment in other industries.
What does a software developer do?
The tasks of a software developer are divided into four main areas of responsibility:
The first step in developing a new software or application is an in-depth analysis of the stakeholders' requirements. The aim is to achieve a common understanding of the software to be developed between the software developer and the stakeholder and to define work processes and quality criteria by mutual agreement. The resulting requirements documentation serves the software developer as a basis and framework for all subsequent development steps of the software and application. In addition, the requirements documentation is used after each major development step has been completed. In this way, the results can be regularly compared with the actual requirements of the stakeholders.
Development of the software architecture and the source code
As part of the development of the software architecture, the software developer determines the basic components of a software system and how these internally interrelate and operate. This area of responsibility is one of the most important and critical for a software developer. Once the software architecture has been set up, it can only be changed again at a later point in time with great effort. Therefore, in this step, the software developer must attach great importance to quality criteria such as modifiability, maintainability, security and performance. Once the software architecture has been defined, it must be implemented with the help of various programming languages. The most commonly used programming languages are Java, C ++ and PHP. There are also other programming languages such as Perl, Cobol,Pascal or Ruby on Rails.
Once the software has been developed, the test phase begins. The software developer examines the software for the requirements defined in the first step, measures the quality and checks the software for errors. For this, the software developer mostly uses predefined protocols and quality standards. Depending on the complexity of the software, the test phase can differ in scope.
Implementation and installation of the software
If all errors that were disclosed during the test phase have been resolved, the software can be implemented. In this context, the software developer creates technical documentation in which all essential information on the installation, use, maintenance and repair of the software is recorded. In addition, the software developer gives future users of the program or application a briefing.
Maintenance and further development of the newly introduced software
After implementation, it is the responsibility of the software developer to regularly bring the software up to date and expand its functions. In addition, he is the one who revises the software if problems arise and adapts it to the requirements of the stakeholders.
In most cases, the software developer is not solely responsible for all of the tasks described. Depending on the scope of the project, he works in a development team made up of software analysts, programmers, software testers, application consultants, software engineers or web designers and usually only covers parts of the above-mentioned fields of activity.
The most important programming languages of software developers include the following:
The programming language Java is one of the best known programming languages and was first brought onto the market in 1995 by the company Sun Microsystems. Java belongs to the group of object-oriented programming languages, whereby written programs are divided into objects and classes. Web applications, desktop applications and apps are programmed with Java.
This programming language is an extension of the C programming language. Like Java, it is one of the object-oriented programming languages. C ++ is used in application and systems programming and was developed between 1979 and 1983 by Bjarne Stroustrup, a former professor of computer science at Texas A&M University.
PHP stands for Hypertext Preprocessor. PHP is a scripting language that is mainly used to create dynamic websites and web applications. Many content management systems are based on the PHP programming language such as Wordpress. The programming language has existed since 1995 and has been continuously developed since then.
What hard skills should a software developer have?
One of the most important competencies of a software developer is the command of one or more programming languages. Which programming language is used depends entirely on the area in which the software developer has specialized. The C # programming language is suitable for software developers who have specialized in the development of Microsoft platforms and Microsoft services. On the other hand, those who focus on developing web applications that can process data will use PHP. As in many other areas, it is also true here that a deep understanding of one programming language is often more useful than superficial knowledge of several programming languages.
Clean and sensibly structured code structure
A clearly understandable and well-structured code structure is usually decisive for the quality and thus the success of a project. Many companies and development teams use their own code codes to make the code structure understandable for all team members and successors. Part of such a code codex can be, for example, to communicate identified bugs immediately and to carry out regular reviews of the code structure. In addition, a code codex can be used to record how and when comments should be placed within the code, how long the lines should be or how the code should be indented.
In software development, version management is a system that logs all changes to the source text. It is thus possible to access an older version of the source text at a later point in time. Working with version management is particularly useful in teams made up of several software developers. For example, a software developer should know how to check code in and out.
Project management methods
There are now numerous project management methods that are used in software development. These range from agile project management to Scrum, Kanban, Prince2 to the waterfall method or XP. Software developers do not have to be able to master all project management methods in detail. Nevertheless, it is important to know what the individual project management methods are about and how they can be used in day-to-day business.
Algorithms and data structures
If problems arise in the development of a software product, it is advantageous for a software developer to know the most common algorithms and data structures. In simple terms, algorithms give software developers a solution for certain tasks in which the steps are clearly defined. An example of an algorithm in daily life are navigation devices that calculate the shortest route based on various factors such as traffic jams, road closures or inclines. Knowledge of data structures is also important. Data structures are used to store and organize data. The more a software developer knows about data structures, the better he can solve various problems.
In times of big data and machine learning, at least basic knowledge about different database types is appropriate. A software developer should be able to work with databases and have knowledge of how data can be inserted, deleted, updated and merged in databases.
The aim of testing is to test the software product for the technical requirements and to reveal bugs. Since the testing of software products is one of the tasks of a software developer, he should also have knowledge of various testing methods. One of the most common testing methods is, for example, the system test, in which all components of an application that have been newly developed or changed are checked.
Debugging takes place after testing and is concerned with eliminating the bugs revealed in the test phase. In this context, the software developer should have knowledge of the various types of debugging and be familiar with methods and tools, such as the command line tool GNU Symbolic Debugger (GDB), just-in-time debugging or post-mortem debugging.
What soft skills should a software developer have?
Companies are always working more project-based. Depending on the size and duration of the project, several teams from different disciplines are usually involved, who have to communicate well and deal empathically with one another in order to bring a project to a successful conclusion. Soft skills are therefore at least as important as relevant specialist knowledge. The cliché that it is sufficient for a software developer to convince only through well-founded know-how is therefore outdated. Soft skills such as the ability to work in a team, communicative skills and creativity have long been decisive in order to be able to successfully implement project requirements .
Software developers have a service function, regardless of whether they work in an agency or in their own company. This means that they have to understand the requirements of customers or the business units in the company and implement them in their own team according to the requirements and at the same time draw attention to opportunities and risks. This is why communicative skills are one of the key competencies a software developer should have.
IT projects are generally implemented in teams. Depending on the size of the project, the teams can be set up internationally. Just like other IT specialists from related fields, the software developer must be able to implement projects in a team and to develop solutions for the requirements of various stakeholders in a joint dialogue. In addition, modern project management methods in software development such as Scrum require teamwork and communication skills.
The ability to educate yourself and learn from each other
Software development is one of the fastest moving industries. It is all the more important for a software developer to stay on the ball, to deal with current developments and to constantly acquire new knowledge in software development. The exchange in your own team is particularly important. A popular method that is used in development teams is pair programming as part of code reviews. Two developers work together on a code and check each other's work. In addition, some software teams are also starting to hold regular in-house tech talks where experiences are exchanged, discussions are held and codes are considered.
Software developers need to be flexible. This applies not only to unexpected problems, but also to changes in the requirements on the part of the stakeholders. In these situations, it is important to include the new requirements in existing considerations at short notice and to get creative with problems. A quick response is particularly important in time-critical projects so as not to endanger the course of the project and to guarantee the success of the project.