A decent developer is a huge rarity. The problem is not even in the poor knowledge of programming language, but in an integrated approach. The modern developer should not only comprehend, but also integrate modern technologies into their work and be aware of the correlation between innovation and high demand of the computer software. Only this developer will be the most sought after in any company, no matter how many programming languages he/she knows.
Today more than 50 programming languages are being actively used, but the most significant ones can be counted on the fingers of one hand. They constitute the great bulk of the market and bring income to programmers. Following this introduction, we approach the first and the most important skill of any developer.
Skill 1 — Programming Languages
In order to be a popular and promising developer with a good monthly salary, it’s enough to be fluent in only two or three common programming languages from the listed below:
The table shows the programming languages, their popularity and the platforms on which they are used. If you are going to study the first or the new programming language, it is worth starting not from its prevalence, but from the goals you are pursuing and the areas that interest you. Let’s address the first 5 programming languages.
The language is common in various areas of development, but it is a serious rival of the other languages in the following directions:
Web-development. In recent years, developers of the websites and apps, based on the client-server model structure, widely use popular Python frameworks: Django (completed version with administrator bar and interface, speed and minimal need of skills are its advantages) and Flask (a shell that may be customized for specific programmer needs, it is the best option for creating a REST API — client-server architecture style for building scalable distributed web-site systems and applications, as an example, the social network API)
Machine learning. Python has two popular and frequently used libraries: Scikit-learn (for more primitive solutions) and TensorFlow (for major and high-performance solutions), which can be used for neural networks creation, deep machine learning, as well as analytics and forecasting. One of the most primitive ways of solving learning tasks is the “smart” news feeds in social networks.
С++, C, C#
C language is the ancestor of C # and C ++. This programming language, like its successors, is used to create software. The main designation of these languages is the development of system software. The main advantage of it is the high processing speed, which allows you to create modern, resource-intensive games and apps in C ++ and C #.
If you plan to develop software or games (game engines like Unreal Engine, Frostbite, Unity), then this programming language should be learnt in first place, since in the upcoming years it certainly will not be losing its ground in this sphere. This is evidenced by the positive rating dynamics: none of these programming languages have left the Top 7 over the past 10 years. However, it is disturbing that this language has recently paused to develop. Except the minimal adjustment and interface elaboration, there have been no breakthrough innovations in code and algorithms improvement for a long time.
Until 2006 nobody could imagine that Java language would be used not only in the household equipment programming. Nowadays it is the most popular language for creating cross-platform software with compatibility support for older code versions. It is used to create applications, games, to synchronize devices, to develop web services, banking and financial systems.
One of the downsides is the lack of flexibility, hence it is currently reminding Lego. All that you can create or write in Java is already scattered throughout the internet. To create a mid-level Java app, you need only a minimal understanding of programming principles and basic engine skills search in order to find patterns of completed projects on the web. This is what made Java one of the most popular programming languages for beginners.
As you can see, each language is designed for its own sphere, where it looks more promising and more convenient. Although in the light of modern realities, it is not enough for programmers to know one language, it is much more important to have additional skills that increase the level of the specialist’s demand.
Skill 2 — Client-server architecture
Keeping in mind that recent developments are in 80 % of cases based on the client-server model, its understanding is rather mandatory than desirable for the developer. Poorly designed architecture may lead to the dozens of typical problems linked with processing and distribution of http-requests. Therefore, the ignorance of this model may be the reason of the employers’ denial.
Client-server architecture is a system of interaction between user’s device and server host. The device is a client that connects to the server and delivers POST requests via Internet. The server, in turn, is engaged in data processing and it sends the completed solution back to the device. Thus, it minimizes the risks of client’s software being hacked and also it reduces the level of strain on the device, because the main calculations are made at server capacities. Besides, the client-server architecture enables to save and restore client data on a new device, if the old one failed or was formatted.
First of all, it is essential for the developer to understand the REST philosophy, which was originally conceived as a system of request management for interaction between the server and the client: Get, Post, Put, Delete with a data relevance handler.
Client-server architecture is used in:
- business automation;
- online games;
- commercial applications;
- website development;
- cloud computing.
Skill 3 — Systems engineering
Without implementing the basis of systems engineering, it will be extremely difficult for a programmer to create a unique and competitive product. Systems engineering is a big course, which, unfortunately, is taught in an extremely compressed form by the majority of educational institutions where they address the next main points only in a shallow way:
Market analysis. Competence in this field will help you to analyze and examine volatility of the market, its movement toward technological (integration of modern technologies, development prospects), social (wishes, interest of users, value for the consumer), functional (maximum of possibilities, without sacrificing UI convenience) aspects. This approach to the development of the final product will allow you to see the flaws and deficiencies of the idea that is always imperfect at the initial stage and requires a more accurate modeling, a clear strategy.
Planning. It implies a strong prioritization and time control over tasks performance. It is a condition that directly affects the development deadlines. Breaks or delays may lead to the release of the product irrelevant to the market. The project managers too often don’t fully understand the scope of the tasks to be done and set deadlines based on their own ideas. This leads to the discrepancies between planned deadlines and real time frame. Therefore, the developers should be involved in plan timing, but not only managers.
Life cycle. The life cycle is a continuous process, starting from the moment a decision is made to develop a product and ending at the moment of its complete decommissioning. The developer needs to know all the stages of the product life cycle, as well as the tasks and requirements typical for each stage. It will help the developer to create a high-quality product that will be relevant for a very long time.
These three key points are closely related. Ignoring one of them may pull the rest of them into the abyss, and vice versa. However, even a well-mastered system engineering course will not be productive if a non-tested product with a large number of bugs is released.
Skill 4 — Basics of software testing
A completed software shouldn’t be released without pre-testing. At present, there are 10 methods and kinds of product testing, but the programmer may only master three of them:
Unit testing. This type implies testing each individual unit (module, class) for proper operation. It is relevant and correct to use the TDD methodology (Test-driven development). In some languages, there are different frameworks for testing. For example, there are NUnit, Rhino Mocks, etc. in Visual Studio.
Integration testing. The most difficult type of testing that involves testing the interaction between blocks (modules, classes). This method is time-consuming, but it will allow you to exclude private incorrect processing of data.
System testing. This testing method involves the study of an already completed product. Testing of small projects may be done on your own, but the large and resource-intensive ones require using automation tools.
Skill 5 — Databases
Creating any software is impossible without implementing a database where all of its data is stored. It is a group of files that contain records in a template structure. If it is enough to have a simple database connection system for a regular client program, then a cloud or client-server application needs a more serious remote database access scheme.
Understanding the principles of working with the database and basics of building connections in client-server solutions is a promising and extremely essential skill for the developer, along with knowledge of the security principles, especially if the programmer plans to work on serious business projects.
Skill 6 — Encryption and cryptography
Many programmers who keep up with modern technologies and cyber-security have already come across the concept of cryptography or, in other words, data encryption. Today, two cryptography methods are used:
Private key. The method was relevant even in the time of Julius Caesar, when the letters were shifted a certain number of places down the alphabet. But over time, encryption technologies became more complicated and eliminated the ability to decrypt a character set without a specific key. The method is used nowadays, but it is almost irrelevant.
Public key. The method was first invented in 1975, however, it gained the maximum spread and popularity only in 2009, when the popular Bitcoin cryptocurrency was built on its basis. From that time, encryption has been actively introduced into any software and has undergone many modifications.
Nowadays there are 4 cryptographic primitives in cryptography:
- digital signature.
Each primitive has its own appliance and usage features. Therefore, if you are determined to develop business apps, work with personal data or plan to transfer voice/text/video messages among individuals or legal entities, be sure to learn the principles of cryptography. This knowledge will be especially vital if you plan to use modern technology — Blockchain, on which there are already many interesting projects.
Skill 7 — Blockchain
Blockchain technology is used to maintain a high level of protection for transactions and personal data of users, as well as for the reliability of the wallet and the entire system.
The principle of blockchain work may be compared to torrent trackers, where the files or, in our case, the transaction log of the running client is compared to other clients and replicated to new ones, thus copying the log data to a new device. All devices (transmitters and receivers) are anonymous spots that do not transmit any identification data, but only exchange blocks (groups of facts).
The main advantage of the blockchain in the modern world is the impossibility of replacing events that have already occurred. And this is currently the main advantage of its widespread implementation, because it is impossible to deceive this system. Therefore, if you think about your future and want to be a sought-after programmer, we advise you to explore this promising technology.
Skill 8 — Artificial intelligence
Artificial intelligence, like blockchain, is a rapidly developing technology, the huge potential of which we will observe in the future. According to the definition given by Andreas Kaplan and Michael Henlein, artificial intelligence is “system’s ability to correctly interpret external data, to learn from such data, and to use this learning to achieve specific goals and tasks through flexible adaptation.”
Globally, AI mimics the model of human thinking. If the program simply retrieves values from the database according to certain rules, it is not endowed with AI. If the system after training creates programs, methods and documents, solving certain tasks, it possesses AI.
A developer who is competent in this sphere will definitely be in demand both today and in the near future.
Skill 9 — Cross-platform software
The cross-platform application allows you to produce a final product, written in a “universal” form for several operating systems. This is a big benefit for distributing and increasing the popularity of software. Virtually all the development environments for creating projects in high-level programming languages are cross-platform and easily compile code to different devices without the need for recompilation.
Thus, you can double or even triple the customers amount of your software. Many people currently abandon the use of PCs and switch to mobile devices: smartphones, laptops, tablets. Therefore, it is important to adapt the developed software for the maximum number of systems before release. The only disadvantage here is that a cross-platform application will never be “perfect” for a specific individual OS.
Skill 10 — Operating Systems
That is why it is essential to not only build cross-platform apps but also to optimize it further for a specific system, taking into account the interaction peculiarities. Learn the new features of operating systems, analyze the way you can apply them in the completed software in order to improve interaction with a consumer, improve usability, speed of data processing, etc.
In conclusion, it should be added that it’s not obligatory to possess all the 10 skills listed above. It is better to possess the perfect knowledge in something than to be able to do a bit of everything. Choose what you want to do, that is interesting for you, set a goal and stick to it. Do not forget about trends in your area and new solutions that will improve professional skills and allow the developer to be in high demand for many years.