Thursday, Sep 25 2014

The Evolution of Software Engineering and Skills

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The Evolution of Software Engineering  Skills

Technology may change in the blink of an eye, but the basic job of a developer or software engineer remains the same: to produce code. Writing code is the heart of every developer task, from debugging and maintenance to creating brand new software.

However, many of the tools, resources, and skills developers use to crank out code have evolved along with technology, particularly with the emergence of the cloud. Here are some examples of the ways modern cloud developers differ from software engineers before them — and a few things that haven’t changed.

Source code control systems

This type of system isn’t new — in fact, developers have used them for decades to store and track codes, versions, and revisions. All source code control systems have the same basic components:

  • A repository where code is stored
  • Revision control tools to manage copies of the master code
  • A version system that keeps track of releases

For the modern developer, the difference in source code control systems is awareness and mastery of adaption. Working with these systems in the cloud requires the ability to manipulate code for a widely dispersed workforce. The distributed git system, made popular by the collaborative developer website GitHub, is the most widely used, but centrally controlled systems like Microsoft Team Foundation Server and Apache Subversion are also commonly used in cloud development.

Agile development methods

There is increasing pressure on modern developers and software engineers to push products to market faster. This has led to the creation and practice of smaller, faster, and more flexible methods for producing code — and speed increases are often achieved through collaboration over a git system, with developers who may be located in diverse geographic areas.

For example, one method many developers employ is called a “sprint.” Sprints are periods of time, usually a week or two, when a team of developers does nothing but produce working software.

Platform as a Service

A lot of end users are familiar with the cloud term Software as a Service (SaaS), a time-saving and cost-effective method for using programs and applications that are hosted on the cloud rather than on workstations or servers, and accessed with an Internet connection.

Platform as a Service (PaaS) is similar in that it delivers large, expensive components developers use on a hosted platform, without hefty overhead or upfront investment. PaaS is a cloud computing layer that provides infrastructure build, integration testing, and software deployment — removing overhead for the developer and allowing coding to happen faster.

Multilingual flexibility

For a long time, developers could build a career by becoming proficient in a single programming language. Today’s cloud developers need greater linguistic capabilities — as least in the languages they use to talk to computers. Most programming languages are decades old, but modern developers are combining them in new ways in order to work with all the domain-specific languages that can go into a single software product.

For example, a system developer might be fluent in Perl, BASH, and Python, while a front-end developer must speak JavaScript, CSS, HTML, and XML.

All factors considered, speed is the primary difference between previous generations of software engineers and the new breed of agile cloud developers. What once represented a year’s worth of output can now be created in a matter of days, and the process can be repeated week after week.

But at the end of the day, developers deal with code. And that will never change.

 

The Armada Group knows what modern skills developers need to cultivate and maintain in order to be at the forefront of their industry. To speak with one of our recruiting specialists, or to find a top IT candidate, contact our team today.

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