Whether you are looking to enhance your career as a software developer or you have been tasked by your company to develop a new software system for your organization, you need to know a few things to get the job done. Software programing is a lucrative skill, but it’s also a very specific process that requires not just technical skills but also project management and organizational know-how. This article will tell you some of the secrets to creating your very first piece of software.
Figuring out what sort of developer you are
There are so many different applications for software development, and the list is growing by the day. If you have yet to decide what software you are going to write then you need to first figure out if you’re going to be developing an application or getting involved with systems development. If you are aiming towards application development then you might be creating a piece of software designed to satisfy an end user, perhaps a mobile phone app, blogging software or maybe the next hit video game. On the other hand, if you’re focusing on systems development, then expect to be involved with data security, working with operating systems or advanced networks.
Learning to code
Learning to code is a great skill to put in your locker regardless of your career trajectory, but if you are getting involved in software development, then it’s clearly essential. There are plenty of languages that you can turn to depending on the type of project you are working on, and these can be learned in classes (both on campus and online). There are enough resources now that you could arguably teach yourself with enough dedication and commitment.
A key secret is knowing which languages are useful for which project:
- C – A legendary workhorse of a language, still used regularly on many simple development projects and the basis for many of the C hybrids in this list
- C++ – The world’s most popular programing language; this is the one to learn if you want to be in demand as it’s used for everything from popular software development to video game creation. Reading this on Chrome or Firefox? Both were developed in C ++
- Java – Another popular language, this is also used in much the same way as C ++
- C# – Developed to support Microsoft phone and web apps, this is an easy to pick up language
- Objective-C – A hybrid of C language, this was developed by Apple to support app development
- Python – A web development language with a reputation as being one of the easiest to learn
- PHP – A core web development language, essential for web apps and websites
Once you have all the requisite skills under your hat, it’s time to put a plan in place for that first piece of software:
1. Ask for help and support
Most languages will have an existing user base that you can tap into for help and support; don’t be afraid to ask questions and get help when the going gets tough. There are also plenty of professional experts out there, such as digivante.com, with a wealth of experience in auditing, testing and deploying complex software systems.
2. Practice daily
Practice makes perfect. Just like learning a musical instrument, learning to code should be practiced regularly. There’s nothing better than hands-on experience to get your skills leveled-up.
3. Brainstorm ideas and write a plan
Take the time to brainstorm and write down your ideas. Think about what would make your life easier, or perhaps explore existing software and think about how you could do it better or faster or more efficiency. There’s nothing new under the sun, they say, but once you’ve got the idea, create a detailed document to help you plan the structure and the overall project to really start making it your own.
4. Build a prototype
Just like in a physical engineering project, you should build a prototype as proof of concept. Generally the prototype is a simple bit of software that allows you and your team to see exactly how the finished article might work and is an opportunity to explore additional functionality or test new ideas
5. Test, test, test!
Arguably the most important part of the software creation process is the testing phase. After all your hard work, you have to try and break it. Nobody wants to release a bug-ridden mess that serves only to frustrate users with poor UI or overly complex functionality. This is a critical phase where you must iron out all the ghosts in the machine, so employ colleagues, friends, and family to use your software until you’re confident that you can deploy your first piece of software as a robust masterpiece.