The evolution of software development is not just about timelines, where previously the shortest time you could expect for a software release was nothing less than a whole year. The greatest highlights of evolution are found in the little things. That software development is no longer a computer-only affair rather, development tools are available in a broader range of devices including smartphones, tablets, and laptops. That developers are today more friendly and interactive and not as nerdy, geeky, or downrightly unsocial beings that we saw in the past decades.
In retrospect, a lot has changed and the path to discovery gets more exciting with as many as 24 million developers joining the bandwagon by 2019 and a good number opting to go solo in their venture mostly in consumer web-based and mobile apps development.
What brought about such transformations?
- From just one language in 1956 to the more than 700 programming languages that we have today, enterprises are relying heavily on applications to meet operational and service delivery demands.
- Enter virtualization and cloud computing and software development went to a whole new level. The cloud platform, as opposed to in-house servers, offers a more robust and scalable infrastructure for faster, cost-effective, and efficient releases with providers like AZURE and AWS gaining ground ahead of others. Today, applications can be deployed or upgraded within minutes of demand.
- Thanks to AI and ML technologies that gave rise to smart and intelligent software and automated processes, software development now has a new face defined by speed, efficiency, and ease of release of applications.
- A trend that is fast becoming popular is the adoption of agile development and continuous integration approach as the waterfall model that was previously used ebbs out. The complicated time-consuming models that were there before have today been streamlined to meet the growing demand for faster higher-quality deployments. DevOps technology has played a huge role in this.
Software development has experienced huge milestones, the ones mentioned above are just but a few of them.
What is software development life cycle?
The software development life cycle, abbreviated as SDLC, is a framework detailing the phases through which software passes from the time of planning to the time it is delivered to its consumer. Each phase in the life cycle has predefined tasks, objectives, and goals that should be achieved before moving on to the next phase.
SDLC works by minimizing cost, speeding up deployment to produce high-quality software in line with customer expectations. The framework will clearly lay out the finer details of how to develop, maintain, alter, or replace software and also specify the time and cost within which the project should be done.
A typical SDLC has the following steps
The planning phase defines the scope and the expected results of the project based on the needs of the organization. It outlines a schedule and estimates the cost, timeline, and other resources required for the project. This stage also points out risks and how to minimize these risks.
- Requirements Analysis
Requirements analysis is an important stage in the SDLC. It brings together views from different stakeholders including the customer, sales and marketing department, senior team members responsible for steering the project, and industry experts.
These views are factored in when defining and documenting the business requirements (broken down into specific functions and operations) that the application should meet to be beneficial to the business. Usually, businesses will use a Software Requirement Specification document to perform requirements analysis.
This phase consists of two vital activities.
- Designing the system’s infrastructure
- Designing the system model
Reference is made to the Software Requirement Specification (SRS) document followed by defining desired features of the application in an architectural framework. Usually, more than one framework will be proposed and documented in a Design Document Specification (DDS) document.
Different stakeholders will then analyze each proposed framework based on factors like feasibility, function, cost, and time and then select one that best fits the project requirements.
The development phase marks the first step towards the actual development of the application. It involves the actual infrastructure development and system coding by developers. While the previous phases more of documentation phases, the development phase makes use of the blueprint from these phases as a guideline in carrying out their activities.
Coding is the longest phase in the SDLC.
This is a crucial part of the SDLC. Software Testing is done to evaluate how well the proposed application will meet the requirements intended for it. The purpose of the testing phase is to identify bugs and errors in the system and fix them in the best way possible to achieve the quality defined in the SRS.
Here, test cases are written and executed usually by a quality assurance professional.
In this phase, the actual software is released for the end-users to begin their operations. Sometimes, the software may first be released to a few people to further test its functionality. This will, however, depend on the agreement between the developers and the clients.
Based on user-feedback, the maintenance phase exists to correct, enhance, or alter the software if need be. From time to time the system is maintained and/or upgraded to keep it functioning at its best. This phase also includes user-support.
A career in Software Development
Software development is one of the most promising career fields in software engineering. Computers run on software and businesses today rely heavily on software to run their operations. For this reason, the demand for software developers continues to rise.
There are different paths that one can pursue a software development career.
- Your education background
A software engineer degree, while not absolutely necessary, will help you familiarize yourself well with computers and programming. If starting off your career at this point, consider a degree in computer science.
- Gain hands-on experience
A degree alone is not enough to equip you for a career in software development. You need practical experience. After attaining your degree, consider a job or an internship where you will build coding, programming, and other technical skills required for this role.
- Technical skills
A software developer should possess the following technical skills.
- programming languages like Java, C++, and Python
- IDE’s (Integrated Development Environments)
- Operating systems
- Microsoft excel
- Build your soft skills
Did we mention that today’s software developer is a social being who is part of a team?
Problem-solving, collaboration, communication, team player, and creativity are skills that go a long way to enhance your career. They help you relate with your teammates, clients, and other stakeholders and having them will certainly accord you a competitive advantage.
- Pursue a specialization
Given that there are different types of software including systems software, programming software, and application software, the software development field is also broad. You could consider specializing in one or two of the following careers under software development.
- Full-stack developer
- Front-end developer
- Back-end developer
- Mobile developer
- DevOps developer
- Graphics/games developer
- Pursue certifications
Certifications are proof of a professional’s technical skills and abilities. Different bodies offer different certifications in line with software development.
- C++ Institute certifications – C and C++ programming certification in advancing levels from associate, professional, to senior level. Some certifications under this category include:
- CLA (C programming Language Certified Association)
- CLP (Certified Professional Programmer)
- CLS (Certified Senior Programmer)
- CPA (C++ Certified Associate Programmer)
- (CPP) C++ Certified Professional Programmer
- CPS (C++ Certified Senior Programmer (CPS)
- IEEE Professional Software Developer Certification
- Microsoft Certified Solutions Developer
The software development field keeps changing. With new technologies, comes the need for professionals to upgrade their skills. On the other hand, if you haven’t launched your career yet,
you can start off by looking at the various Software Development Courses available in the market. Take advantage of online courses and certifications and once you’ve gained skills, a lot of self-learning and practice will go into building your career.