Coders are the construction workers of the digital world. Also known as computer programmers, developers, or software engineers, coders put together the building blocks to create websites, apps, or any other type of computer software.
Computers are extremely fast at handling complex mathematical tasks, but without instructions to follow, they’re just a box of useless electrical circuits. Coders are the professionals responsible for writing these instructions. C++, Java, and Python are examples of popular programming languages used by coders.
As you can imagine, they’re in high demand too. From established tech giants like Google and Facebook to small start-ups, coders will always be needed to build, upgrade, and maintain digital products.
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The Software Development Life Cycle
Coders play a key role in the software development life cycle (SDLC). This is an approach used by professionals to build new software applications. It involves seven key stages: Planning Analysis Design Implementation Testing Deployment Maintenance The size of the company you work for will determine how much involvement you have in each stage of the SDLC. Coders can expect to spend most of their time working on the implementation and maintenance phases.
- Planning, Analysis, and Design: It all starts with a plan. This is usually done by senior management and tech leaders within the organization. They create spending budgets, set deadlines, and identify project teams. Next comes the analysis stage where the software requirements are defined, and the client is interviewed to fully understand their problem. In the design stage, solutions to the problem are drafted and agreed upon. A programming language is chosen, user interface (UI) storyboards are developed, and operating platforms are selected.
- Implementation: The implementation (or development) phase is where coders really shine. You'll follow the detailed design documentation and write the program using computer code. On small projects, you might be working with one or two other developers, or even alone. But on larger projects, the work will be broken up between several teams. You’ll need to use version control systems to manage changes, synchronize tasks with other coders, and undo any mistakes you make. You may also need to write both technical and user documentation on the code you write. This will help colleagues understand your work and allow users to correctly operate the software.
- Testing and Deployment: Building software is a complex process that involves many different people. Mistakes are almost inevitable so software must be thoroughly tested before being released to customers. The application should function as intended and perform the task it was designed to do. It should also run smoothly and efficiently without crashing or lagging. Depending on the specific software application, security is also important. The program should encrypt sensitive user information when necessary and protect passwords from hackers. Finally, the application is deployed and made available to users. When working as a coder you’ll need to be available for launch day, in case any unexpected errors occur, and code needs fixing.
- Maintenance: Once the software is released and being used by customers, your job as a coder isn’t over yet. You’ll need to respond to user feedback and fix any bugs that weren’t found during the testing process. You’ll also need to work on updates and new features requested by customers. These could be minor changes or trigger an entire new SDLC process.
Skills Required by Coders
Coding is a technical role that requires strong analytical and problem-solving skills. You’ll also need excellent interpersonal skills to be an effective team player and communicate your ideas.
- Analytical Thinking: Efficient solutions come from understanding user problems. Analyzing the problem and interpreting it from different perspectives will make the development process easier. As a coder, you should research the client’s business and its competitors. This will provide you with context and allow you to design elegant solutions.
- Logic: To break down large problems into manageable parts you’ll need a logical and structured approach. This process is one thing that all programming languages have in common. There are always several possible solutions to any given problem, so you should be able to use reasoning and objective thinking to arrive at your answer.
- Communication: The flow of information is essential in any organization. As a coder, you’re expected to be a strong written and verbal communicator. In meetings, you’ll need to articulate your ideas, concerns, and feedback to company stakeholders. Emails are also used to communicate between teams. If they're written without proper context and contain grammatical errors, colleagues may not understand your message and the project could suffer.
- Presentation: An application gets reviewed multiple times during the development process. At every stage, the coder needs to present the ideas to various stakeholders involved in the project. Persuasive presentation skills are needed to pitch the concepts.
- Planning: Product planning plays a vital part in the daily life of a coder. You'll work with UI/UX designers, graphic designers, engineers, and product managers before writing any code. You should be able to advise your team on how long tasks may take, the possible risks involved, and the expected costs.
- Collaboration: To understand and solve business problems, brainstorming sessions will take place within an organization. An experienced coder doesn't just write code all day. They work with other team members to understand user requirements and come up with suitable technical solutions.
- Development Frameworks: Most software companies follow standard workflow protocols such as Kanban and Scrum. Both fall under the agile framework. Here testing and development involve continuous iteration in a software development cycle. These methodologies help individuals work as a team towards a common goal. Along with these skills, you’ll need to master several programming languages.
Programming Languages Used by Coders
In-depth knowledge of programming languages is one of the core competencies of a coder. You should be able to write clean, efficient code that is easy to read.
When starting out, it may seem like a daunting task to learn several new languages. But bear in mind, once you learn the fundamental principles of one language, others will be easier to pick up.
Let’s have a look at some of the programming languages used by coders.
- Java: Popular among server-side programmers, Java is one of the most used languages in the world. It can be used for mobile apps, video games, and server functionality. It works on the principle of: “code once, run anywhere”. This makes it extremely portable and easy to run on different platforms.
- Python: From basic front-end functionality to artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, and web development projects, Python is extremely versatile. It also has very simple syntax, making it relatively easy to work with.
- Ruby: Similar to Python, Ruby is another high-level language with simple syntax. It was developed back in the 1990s and is used to create on-demand web applications.
- C++: For applications that require full control, are resource-limited, and need to be fast, C++ is the language of choice. It’s used for desktop applications like video games, operating systems, and business packages. It’s also perfect for embedded systems that need to run on limited memory and processing power.
- PHP: PHP stands for Hypertext Pre-processor and is used by full-stack web developers. Sites or web apps that interact with databases and provide a dynamic user experience will use PHP. Facebook is written in PHP, along with WordPress, the most popular CMS (content management system) in the world. It’s an open-source language and coders can easily access pre-built modules and libraries.
- SQL: Anyone passionate about big data should learn SQL (structured query language). It’s used to store, read, organize, and update data within a database system. SQL isn’t used in isolation. It’s often embedded in other languages like PHP or Python. There are hundreds (if not thousands) of other programming languages out there. Each has its own strengths and weaknesses, but many share similar concepts. Objects, loops, if-statements, and variables are just some examples of coding principles that you’ll need to master.
How to Become a Coder
Now that you have a better understanding of what coders do, you might be wondering how to become a full-time coder. While there are plenty of online tutorials, you’ll need a structured program to learn the current coding skills and see how they apply in real world scenarios. Learning from a mentor is also a good idea, as they can support you on your journey.
We recommend that you check out our software engineering bootcamp. This intensive, focused, and affordable online course will teach you career-ready skills to land a top coding job. As part of the training, you’ll be mentored by an expert in the field. We’ll also help you put together a professional portfolio to record your achievements and wow prospective employers.
If you’re still undecided, take a look at our tech blog to learn more about a future in coding. Our post on coding jobs (and how much you can earn) should give you an idea of life as a professional coder.
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