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What Is Software Development?

What do computers, networks, cell phones, vehicles, apps, and video games have in common? Most Americans use at least two or three of these on a daily basis — and they all require software development to function. As more and more of our daily lives move online and to mobile, the demand for people with knowledge and expertise in the field of software development will continue to grow at a rapid pace. But what is software development?

Software developer at office

 

Software development is the process that relates to the creation of individual software programs by using specialized and specific computer programming languages. This process is extremely comprehensive and varies depending on the type of software being developed; however, software development typically includes the conception, design, programming, testing, and bug fixing of a piece of software, network, or application.

What is Software Development? A Rapidly Growing Field

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of software developers is projected to grow 21% from 2018 to 2028 — significantly faster than the average for all occupations. Demand for software developers working in applications in particular is expected to grow 26%, more than five times the average projected change in employment of 5%. If you think of how quickly technology has evolved over the past 20, 10, or even five years, these numbers make sense.

Software development has to keep up with the ever-increasing and changing demands for software, not only in computers and cellphones but in consumer appliances, too. Furthermore, mounting concerns over network security are likely to lead to more demand for software developers in that field, as well as for the software they design. This article will explore software development skills and the types of software development that companies are using. It will also describe how software development impacts our daily lives, how it helps companies grow, and how emerging technologies drive software development demand.

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Software Improves the Lives of the General Public

Let’s walk through an example of a daily routine. You might wake up to an alarm on your phone that reads you the time of day and provides you with the latest headlines. As you enjoy a cup of coffee that was programmed to be ready at 6 a.m., you might casually scroll through an online retail store, such as Amazon, before hailing a ride to the office with Uber. While at work, you might order coffee and snacks for your team through a meal delivery app, communicate with your colleagues through email or an internet chat platform, such as Slack, and then take a ride-sharing service back home. Once you’re home, your programmable thermostat will crank up the heat a degree or two, and you turn on Netflix or HBO to watch TV on demand. As you’re cooking dinner, you confirm the time and location of your first date with a person you met through an online dating app. What is software development? It’s the process that makes all of these things possible.

As you can see, the daily habits of most individuals heavily rely on software. Transportation, food, work, shopping, dating, entertainment — software is revolutionizing nearly every aspect of our lives. That’s great news for software developers, as they’re the ones who build the programs, systems, and applications on which we rely so much.

Software Development Skills

Computer science professionals must build certain talents and capabilities to pursue a career in software development. Once these skills are attained, software developers can find employment in fields ranging from retail sales and business applications to healthcare and government defense systems. Titles for software developers could include data scientist, DevOps engineer, video game developer, or software consultant. The software development skills required for these positions may include:

  • Analytical skills
  • Automation
  • Coding
  • Communication
  • Creativity
  • Design
  • Interpersonal relationships
  • Leadership
  • Math
  • Problem-solving
  • Programming
  • Project management
  • Systems testing

Types of Software Development

Companies’ software development strategies vary greatly depending on their business goals. Online retailers may focus on web design and order fulfillment, for instance, while business service providers need to create complex data management systems. Here are a few of the main categories of software development:

Applications development — This refers to the creation of standard computer software to complete daily functions on traditional operating systems or mobile devices. This could include games or word processor programs. Programming languages include Java, Python, or C#.

Systems development — This involves development of the back-end programs that keep operating systems functioning. This includes software for personal computers, business systems, and cellphones, and also covers server architecture and database management. Languages include Java, Python, and C/C++.

User interface development — Also known as UX design, this type of software development creates the front-end systems that allow users to interact with programs. Designers deal with visual aesthetics, functional layouts, platform compatibility, and bug fixes and may use languages including JavaScript and HTML.

Web development — This includes the design and coding of software and applications for use on web browsers, including interconnected files and pages. Languages include HTML and JavaScript.

Embedded systems development — This refers to the creation of IoT (internet of things) operating systems and software for noncomputer devices such as appliances or cars. Programs include Python, Java, and Embedded C.

Other types of software development include database, network security, application programming interface (API), cloud computing, and software tool design. Companies employ various strategies during software development processes, ranging from traditional waterfall (sequential) methods to Agile-based philosophies based on short development sprints and continuously changing goals.

Companies Need Software Developers

To complete their daily activities, companies across various industries rely on software developers. In business technology, software developers are needed to produce project management, email marketing, and online commerce programs and applications. Developers are in high demand at universities and other educational institutions that require the infrastructure to house large quantities of digital knowledge.

Manufacturers and the automobile industry need software developers to increase and improve automation, while large media companies need developers to help them publish huge amounts of content across multiple platforms. Furthermore, these advances in technology enable companies to make use of custom solutions to solve their individual business problems. Examples of these custom solutions include mobile banking applications tailored to a specific bank or a custom online commerce site, such as eBay — and all of these custom solutions require software development.

Developing Technologies: Keeping Up with Changing Demands

The advancement of technology — which drives software development demand — doesn’t appear to be slowing down anytime soon. Machine learning, a growing internet of things, and autonomous cars, to name a few, are all dependent on software development. Many software developers and experts in the field predict that machine learning will eventually replace more traditional coding. With machine learning, programmers don’t code instructions for a computer; rather, they train the computer. Machine learning is increasingly being adopted by companies of all types and sizes, and it will only become more prevalent. What does that mean for software development?

Machine learning can help developers create better software, improve security, enhance productivity, and build better applications. The internet of things, which refers to all of the devices connected to the internet — home appliances, cellphones, vehicles, sensors, etc. — continues to expand, meaning there are ample opportunities for software developers to program these devices and create applications for them. New and exciting technologies requiring advanced software development include autonomous cars and autonomous factory robots, which require complex programs to control movement, inform navigation, and ensure security. Artificial intelligence-powered programming is also changing basic office processes via robotic process automation (RPA), natural language processing (NLP), and other sophisticated tools.

Pursue a Career in Software Development

There’s never been a better time to be a software developer. We’re living in a world increasingly reliant on technology and applications to guide us through our daily tasks, and this technology is rapidly changing, fueling increased software development demand. There’s always something new to learn in the computer software industry, and if you’re interested in a career in this field, consider exploring Maryville’s online Master of Science in Software Development. Now that you can answer the question, What is software development? learn more about the various careers in this exciting field.

Recommended Readings
Learn Key Programming Languages for Software Development
Top Benefits of Being a Software Development Degree Holder
Where Big Data and Software Development Collide

Sources:
BrowserStack, What Are the Different Types of Software Engineer Roles?
ElectronicDesign, “Making Robots Smarter”
Forbes, “What Are Important AI & Machine Learning Trends for 2020?”
Hyperion Development, “10 Different Types of Software Development”
Maryville University, Master’s in Software Development Online
Maryville University, MS Software Development Careers
Planview, “Top 6 Software Development Methodologies”
Wired, “AI Is Coming for Your Most Mind-Numbing Office Tasks”
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook, Software Developers