Software is the set of instructions that tells a computer what to do. Software development encompasses all of the activities required for software design, deployment, maintenance, and support. Every video game, mobile app, and work-related computer program you’ve ever used goes through this process.
Software development starts by working with users and other stakeholders to determine what the software needs to do. Then, a software architecture is chosen to structure the program’s operation, as well as a software design to determine how it will solve for user requirements. Only then does the actual coding process begin, which also includes extensive team review and testing for quality assurance. Once the program is ready for deployment, software developers continue to be responsible for keeping the software updated, fixing bugs, and providing user support.
The software development process isn’t just about programming, of course. You need to know your way around popular software development methodologies like DevOps or Agile which structure your software build process. You’ll also need discipline and documentation skills for a careful QA process that ensures your product ships bug-free. Finally, you need a problem solving mindset that balances curiosity with logical thinking, enabling you to imagine issues from your user’s perspective and come up with creative solutions.
You can also take more theory-based courses if you have a specialized career paths in mind to help you understand how software development fits into the bigger picture. For example, if you want to work in database management, you can take courses in data structures and data science. For careers in artificial intelligence (AI), you can take courses in machine learning and algorithms. Whatever your goals are in software development, chances are you can find courses - or even entire degree programs - to meet your needs.
In addition to courses, Coursera offers short Guided Projects for you to hone your software development skills.
The skills and experience you might need to already have, before starting to learn software development
The kind of people who are best suited for roles in software development are those with a mix of good technical skills and people skills. The technical skills side would definitely include a basic understanding of computer science, excellent coding skills, and a love for creating cool software. Notable skills for people best suited for roles in software development are self-organization, ability to focus and concentrate, ability to meet project deadlines, good oral and written communication skills, and an agreeable personality for optimal team workmanship.
Learning software development may be right for you if you are passionate about computers, technology, and software as a service. You might love the intricacies of playing video games, apps, and other software games. Learning software development may be right for you if you enjoy working on teams with other people and can work in a focused, deadline culture in your career.
A few of the topics to study that are related to software development are data analysis, operating systems, object-oriented programming, full-stack development, and learning about new tools that can make a software developer’s job more efficient. This might include tools to use less code to easily integrate tests and help developers avoid having to manually write tests. You might also look to study how software development is being used in artificial intelligence, machine learning, and Internet of Things applications.