Job Essentials: What New Software Developers Should Learn

Here’s a brief review from experienced developers on what skills the beginners in the software development sphere should consider.

New software developers, even if they went to a university to learn software development, will enter a robust field that is filled with different specializations, programming languages, and standards of practice. As a developer, the learning never ends, so it is important for a new developer to learn to become a continual learner. You’ll have to become a problem solver and will also have to keep on top of emerging trends and programming languages to make sure that your skillset allows you to be employable for decades to come.

Some of the many things that should be taught to new software developers include the points mentioned below.

Source and Version Control

As a new software developer, it’s not uncommon to have worked on your own projects before without worrying about other people using your code. When multiple people are contributing to source code, this can lead to a number of issues as versions continue to advance. Source and version control are two things that should be taught at school, but they are often left out of the curriculum.

Git and other version control systems allow developers to maintain:

  • Code
  • Backups of previous versions of a program

If you need to go back and correct a bug or revisit your previous code, version control allows for a quick and easy solution to unforeseen problems that new code presents.

When you add new code to any piece of software, there’s a risk that it can break some of the features and functions that previously existed. Version control is an easy way to correct these issues.

Specializations: Desktop, Web, Mobile

Software developers know the foundations of coding, but they should also be able to choose a specialization in their field that allows them to work on projects that are fulfilling to them. New developers should try multiple specializations, and this may include:

  • Desktop development
  • Web development
  • Mobile development
  • Game development

New developers may also end up in a special niche of their choice. For example, Redwerk’s eLearning software development would allow a developer to better know and understand the needs of the education industry and e-learning.

Software developers may also go into hardware development. This is more on the engineering side of software development, but it would be programming at a much lower level, such as using assembly language to get components to work together.

Basic Database Usage

Developers often assume that all database issues will be handled by network administrators. But database usage has become such an integral part of all forms of software development that it is essential to learn the basics of:

  • Database structures
  • Inserts
  • Updates
  • Deletes
  • Joins
  • SQL

You may not have to become an advanced database administrator, but knowing the basics will make it easier to develop code that interacts with databases. Coursera has a lot of great free courses on databases to learn the basics of database design.

Multiple Languages

Knowing just one programming language is not enough for a developer to enhance their skills and understand how different programming languages work. There are over 600 programming languages, so it is unrealistic to learn all of them or have experience with the different syntaxes that are available.

With that said, it’s very important from a career standpoint to learn multiple languages, even if you don’t use them every day or master them.

A few of the most popular software development languages include:

  • Python
  • Ruby
  • C#
  • PHP
  • Java
  • JavaScript
  • Swift
  • C/C+

Even if the developer simply dabbles in these languages from time to time, it will allow them to be more hirable in the future.

Algorithm Optimization

Creating algorithms is a tedious task. A lot of new developers try to use techniques that are witty, and this only makes it more difficult for other developers to understand what’s occurring in the source code. Developers should create algorithms that are easy to read and simple. When you try to create algorithms that are too complex, this can add to the overall processing time and confuse anyone who tries using the source code in the future.

But you also need to learn about algorithm optimization, which can mean the difference between a program that is very processor-intensive and one that is optimized and can run on new or older platforms. There are a lot of books and free courses on optimizing algorithms. Coursera has a lot of free algorithm courses that are worth signing up for.

Code Testing

Today’s developers write code that may reach millions of users in a matter of weeks. Everyone is on their smartphones or computers, and this means that your code needs to be impeccable from the start. When an application or software is widely used, this also means that there is a higher risk of:

  • Hackers trying to penetrate the software
  • Users finding bugs
  • Vulnerabilities hidden inside the software

Testing code and writing tests for the code should be one of the first things that a new software developer learns. Through testing, it is possible to reduce the number of bugs and issues that users will come across. If you do not conduct proper testing and allow a product to go to market, you’ll be at risk of losing customers due to errors and bugs that may make the software unusable.

How to Write Clean Code

Writing clean code is art. Some development companies will have their own requirements for source code, but others do not. It’s important to follow a standard of coding that is clean and easy to read, not only for yourself but for others that may need to modify your code in the future.

There are a lot of different books on this topic, including:

  • Clean Code: A Handbook of Agile Software
  • The Clean Coder: A Code of Conduct for Professional Programmers

At the very least, you should be using your IDE’s automatic format function to make your code more readable.

How to Work With a Team Effectively

Software developers often work by themselves, and this is the preference of the introverted developer. The issue is that when you are working with a larger company or organization, it’s in the developer’s best interest to learn how to work with their team.

If an issue arises or you cannot figure out the best solution to a problem, it’s better to ask a member of your team that has experience for help. While you shouldn’t rely on the experience of others for every issue that you come across, it is important to work with teams to come up with solutions quickly so that production can continue without unnecessary hindrances.

You’ll Never Know Everything

Life as a programmer is one that comes with the understanding that you’ll never know everything. Even if you’ve been coding in a particular language for ten years, chances are, there will be some aspects of a language that you never used.

There are different functions that may be used for games that would never be used for the development of code inside of an automobile.

As a new developer, it’s important to understand that you’ll never know everything and find a good community or manual to look up different functions and examples of code that you’ll need throughout your career. A lot of online communities exist to help even advanced developers in their day to day jobs. It’s easy to get discouraged as a new developer, but as you learn the basics and the tips outlined above, your job will become easier.

About the author: this is the guest article by Aleksandra Bondarenko, a PR manager from Redwerk.

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