The Best Way to Become a Complete Software Developer
What does it take to be considered a complete developer, and what does that title even mean? Find out what it takes to be one here.
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Learning a programming language is just one piece of a big puzzle in becoming a software developer. Companies want to hire a complete developer and assume you know the entire software development process.
I wanted to simplify the learning process and how to become the most hire-able software developer. I have broken this into 4 parts, as below:
- Part 1 — The Questions
2. Part 2 — The Enlightenment
3. Part 3 — Learning Paths
4. Part 4 — What’s Next?
Part 1: The Questions
Lots of college grads, wanna-be software developers, enthusiasts ask me questions like, "What programming language should I learn?" "Where do I start?" and, "How can I get a software developer job?"
The answers are simple. First, try to understand these:
- How is software consumed? Is it a website or software installed on a computer or an app? On desktop? mobile? tablet?
- What types of software is used more? Business applications? Scientific applications or games? Or something else?
Look around and you can easily judge or guess. Literally no business exists without the need for a computer (and most of them, without the need for internet).
How are these consumed? We can say mostly a mix of mobile, work laptop or desktop, personal laptop or desktop, and other connected devices like TV’s and other smart devices. All these devices run on software and we can classify software applications into 2 broad categories:
- Business applications
- Scientific applications
And I can say confidently that there will be millions more uses of business applications than scientific applications.
So there is more work (and more demand) for business software applications, and hence more jobs.
Part 2: The Enlightenment
Understanding the lifecycle of a software application from requirements to ready-for-use gives you an overview of the overall process and big picture. Now you can decide where you want to focus your energies to learn more.
The Software Development Team
- Solution/Software Architect
- Business Analyst
- User interface/experience developer
- Software developers/software engineers/programmers
- Quality assurance/Quality control
- System administrators
- Project Manager
- Project stakeholders — Executives who manage the project
Lifecycle of A Typical Software Application
- Requirements on how a software should function are given to the software development team by the business teams.
- Based on the requirements, the software’ solution design and architecture begin. At this stage, not all requirements may have solutions, but teams generally start with what they know. Also the environment, technology, and tools to be used are decided.
- Project managers will try to identify the tasks with estimates and will start assigning tasks to the team.
- Software developers will start developing/coding the requirements and will work with UI/UX team as required.
- As code is being developed, it is compiled/built using tools to generate executables.
- The executables are deployed to a server (developer machine or dev server) for testing.
- If the result is satisfactory (QA/QC helps validate that), the code is moved to a staging server where project stakeholders and customers can test the application.
- At the same time, the code maybe saved to a server (called Version Control systems) with versions. These systems tag and manage the code that is pushed with the updates with a version number. You can learn more here.
- Executables are deployed to the main server (Production). The cycle is defined by the customer.
- Above steps 4 thru 9 are repeated until the project is complete. Sometimes developers go back-forth with business teams and architects to change/define any requirements.
Part 3: Learning Paths
Now based on the above, choose where you want to be.
A software developer needs to know the entire process: how code is developed, built, deployed, tested, and managed.
- Choose a programming language of your interest and research for available training centers. There are lots of online resources (Udemy, Pluralsight, Youtube) nowadays to learn any programming language.
- While learning this, also emphasize on learning about database examples.
- While doing the above, learn about using Github and Git commands; using IDE’s (Intellij, Eclipse, Visual Studio); building code; installing and deploying executables; and testing your code.
If you do not know what to pick, I recommend Java. you will not regret!
Most programming languages have some advanced frameworks that are built on top of the core builds. Some frameworks are very popular and are used widely by many organizations.
The Complete Software Developer
Is very good at:
- At least 1 programming language
- 1 database — how it works, how to do CRUD operations
- Building and deploying code to local machines/dev servers
- Managing code with Git (or any other version control system)
- Communicating work done and presenting demos
Has knowledge of:
- The software architecture principles and design
- The Agile development methodology
- How applications are deployed and managed on servers (cloud or on-promises)
- Debugging code, writing to and reading logs,
Certifications, Certifications, Certifications.
Certifications do not guarantee a job but certainly will help you gain confidence, improve the chances of your resume being picked up, and the interviewer will respect you more.
Don’t ignore these. Learn any technology so well that you can pass an industry certification. Best would be direct from the company instead of training institutes.
Some examples include Java certifications from Oracle or .NET- and Azure-related certifications from Microsoft.
Part 5: What’s Next?
Learning Software Is Never a Constant
There is no limit on what you can learn and do with software. They keep evolving every day and software developers need to constantly learn.
Don’t be discouraged to think that you need to learn one more now but generally these frameworks can be learned quickly. They are usually add-ons or extensions to the core. But these are very crucial in your career.
Don’t stop learning!
I really wish the above was helpful and helps you in planning and preparing your career to become a complete software developer.
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