Software Development Tips and Tricks

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Are you considering a career in software development? At Coleman University, we offer a program that will prepare you for a promising career in a booming industry. Coleman University’s Software Development degree program gives you the tools and foundational knowledge to learn new programming languages, software architectures, and paradigms to create and manage software applications. With coursework in systems analysis, application design, website development, and e-commerce concepts, Coleman graduates are well prepared to enter the workforce with the skills and knowledge to develop their very own software packages! Below are some tips, tricks, and trends that can help you succeed in a career in software development:

  • Determine which coding language you should learn. Though used to accomplish similar tasks, different platforms necessitate different coding languages. The initial language that you choose should be based on your short- and long-term goals. For example, Java is the primary language used for Android applications. You should not learn Java if your goal is to develop iPhone applications. In that case, you would learn either Objective-C or Swift. Due to the small differences across platforms, you often cannot write one master code and expect it to work on every platform. You must understand the nuanced differences that affect how your software will run. Luckily, many of the major coding languages are primed to allow developers to port code to other platforms rather quickly. With that said, a developer still needs a thorough understanding of the impact that hardware has on software.
  • Learn multiple coding languages, but stick with one language while you are starting out. Oftentimes, fledgling software developers will get ambitious or impatient and try to simultaneously learn multiple coding languages. Due to the technical nature of software development, learning multiple languages simultaneously may spread novice programmers a bit thin. It is much more beneficial to develop a deep foundational knowledge of one coding language than to learn multiple ones superficially. When you have a thorough understanding of how a specific coding language works, you can branch out. You will find that in most instances, it is much easier to learn subsequent coding languages than it is to learn that first language. Many coding languages have similar frameworks and structures, which allows a programmer to understand a majority of code, even if he or she is not entirely familiar with the language. It becomes a snowball effect as you learn and grow more familiar with the languages. Today, many programmers know multiple coding languages, because it reduces the chance they will be pigeonholed into a certain type of project. Employers are looking for programmers who can accomplish a variety of tasks, and you can set yourself apart by offering a varied skill set.
  • Keep abreast of new developments in the industry. Due to the ever-evolving nature of technology, software developers must make continuous learning a priority to keep relevant. Through the use of industry periodicals, conferences, books, etc., programmers can learn the newest tips and trends that will shape the industry for the foreseeable future. Unfortunately, the technology that you spent countless hours mastering will eventually become outdated. When that happens, you have to evolve or risk becoming outdated yourself.
  • Practice coding in the real world. With the increase in demand for software developers, more and more opportunities to gain real-world experience have presented themselves. There is no clear-cut route into a career in software development, so aspiring programmers are able to explore the entirety of the landscape before plunging into a set course. There are multiple ways to obtain real-world experience, but three of the most popular are detailed below:
    • Open source projects are a great way to take the next step from fledgling coder to more advanced coder. There are hundreds of open source projects available at any given time that require software developers around the world to lend their time and energy to solve problems, build infrastructure, and review their peers. In return for contributing to these projects, you have the opportunity to learn from more experienced coders, gain exposure to a side of the industry that is hard to replicate in a classroom, and add it to your resume. As with many creative roles, having a portfolio of projects that you have contributed to can set you apart from other applicants.
    • Coding dojos are gatherings of programmers based around a common challenge. Though such events center on a shared challenge, coding dojos are not meant to be competitive. Much like a game jam in video game development and design, coding dojos bring coders of all skill levels together to tackle a project in an attempt to glean new knowledge and skills in the process. The goal is to create an environment where people can collaborate and discuss approaches and techniques to use when designing new software.
    • BarCamps are informal conferences put on by groups of individuals who wish to have an open forum to discuss the issues facing the industry. However, unlike most conferences, BarCamps do not have set speakers. Rather, everyone present must participate in some capacity, whether giving a demonstration, leading a workshop, or volunteering in a general capacity. The purpose of these events is to bring like-minded people together to learn in an open environment.
  • Strongly consider learning Javascript. Though touted as the easiest coding language to learn, Javascript is the backbone of many of the most popular websites on the Internet. As a result, programmers who have a strong grasp of Javascript are very attractive to potential employers. The reason for this is the shift to more interactive websites that respond in real time to commands given to them by their users. For example, when you open your email inbox and click on an unread email, you are automatically brought to the full message. Javascript is the driving force behind that interaction.
  • Embrace frameworks. Used heavily in video game development and design, software frameworks are prebuilt code infrastructures that allow programmers to simply instruct an existing library of code. With libraries of code like Unreal and Unity, game programmers can worry less about minute details and focus their efforts on game play, animation, etc. By not having to build every game from scratch, game studios can dedicate fewer resources to each project, resulting in more efficient (and streamlined) production. The only real downside to this approach is that a studio’s offerings may all look a bit similar since they are all produced from the same piece of code. However, most studios combat this by using separate physics engines, graphics, and animations to distinguish the games from one another.
  • Focus on mobile web apps over native mobile apps. In the past, programmers would develop separate mobile apps for each platform (Apple, Android, Blackberry, and Windows). This would require multiple teams of software developers utilizing multiple programming languages to replicate the same app. Not only was this time-consuming and expensive, each platform’s respective app store would tap into the profits made off of the app. However, programmers are starting to shift towards developing mobile web apps for convenience and cost-effectiveness. Rather than building the same app multiple times, software developers are able to build one HTML code and port it to a website. That way, when a user accesses the website from a mobile device, regardless of the operating system, he or she sees the same content.

With a degree in software development from Coleman University, you will have every opportunity to learn from industry leaders in the software development field. Due to the varied nature of the industry, a fledgling programmer has many opportunities to explore the numerous paths before settling on one, based on his or her goals, interests, and talents. Coleman University can position you for an exciting career in software development, and with continuous  learning you can expand your skills in an ever-evolving industry.

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