5 Tips for Developers Navigating a Rapidly Changing Industry
These tips for developers are an important guide to staying ahead of the rapid changes that are a constant in the tech world.
The IT development world isn't what it used to be in some important ways. That has new developers and engineers wondering how to adapt.
It's not just the kinds of linear software and hardware advances that you'd expect from incremental version changes and slow advances in platform efficiency. Some philosophical and top-level design changes apply to the field.
One symbol of that is the emergence of the system known as “DevOps”. Combining traditional development and operations, DevOps makes what used to be a staged linear experience into an agile network of moving parts, as in a rapid web development (RWD) framework or platform. These platforms, such as Velo by Wix, are making devops a bit less relevant, as Velo offers dev tools that make it easier to run and manage web apps.
So what do developers and engineers do these days to stay with the times?
Here are some of the best professional tips that we've gotten to allow programmers and developers to move forward confidently, in the age of decentralized technology, DevOps and the abstracted, virtualized interface. (Read also: DevOps 101)
Rapidly Changing Technology
It's a simple reality that professionals need to acknowledge these days. The pace of change is fast. Changes are happening at breakneck speed, with new virtualization and distributed systems that don't look anything like what we had in the 1980s.
Just take the rise of container virtualization and geographically distributed data networks. Hardware isn't in boxes anymore – it's logically partitioned and operating over abstracted physical networks. One example is the replacement of the LAN by the VLAN; another is the replacement of the office workstation with the virtual machine. People have figured out that machines can be programmable to house virtual components, and the old days of physical on-site builds are largely gone, with cloud and SaaS speeding the switch.
Web-based design is changing, too, and cloud services are taking place over vastly different topologies. All of this means top-level engineers, coders and idea people need to be agile above all else, embracing rapid web development as the platforms evolve.
Consider Project Scope First
A common criticism that's expressed after a development project founders is that people came in with vague ideas, and tried to get coders to go to work programming them.
To the extent that you can take design and engineering work off of the back end, you absolutely should. One expert gave us this type of scenario as an example – suppose you want to collect some information on users and filter it into an app that provides a recommendation engine, while also tracking user development on a platform.
Someone gave these bullet points to a coder and had them set up the interface, but they didn't have the data that they needed. They didn't have the top-level resources, and the scope was never defined. In that case, hard coding can end up just having people spinning their wheels. It’s no good without a distinct overall game plan.
Dive into Low-Code and No-Code Systems
Working in low-code and no-code systems goes along with the point above regarding project scope. Put together, they are extremely important to our sense of how to develop projects these days.
Essentially, no-code tools replace hard coding with modular solutions that developers and engineers drag-and-drop into place.
It's a lot like the emergence of abstracted tools to allow for no-code website design. Less technically-inclined people didn't want to hard-code in HTML, so Dreamweaver and other early tools gave them the alternative of just choosing colors, styles and webpage components, and the machine did the coding itself.
When you spend more time on the scope and the top-level design and leave the hard coding to an automated editor engine, good things can get done. It's all a matter of utilizing the best that humans and machines have to offer, and combining them in the right ways. (Read also: Is No-Code About to Go Mainstream?)
Ensure API Connectivity
API connectivity speaks to a very specific type of sophisticated advancement in software engineering that's nearly everywhere.
It's the application programming interface; a connective piece of technology that takes inputs and outputs from a particular environment and matches them to what's outside.
That means if you have a specialized banking app that needs to interact with some kind of messaging platform, you don't have to do hard coding to get those data points into one basket out of another. You just hook the two together with an API, and let the API do its magic.
That's why you hear so much about APIs these days. They are the connective tissue of sophisticated networks that return functionality to the user. APIs are essentially translators that facilitate the modular approach that’s going to serve developers and engineers well as they wade out into uncharted waters.
Build Strong Systems
Cybersecurity is also a must in today's environment. But cybersecurity is different in software design and engineering than it is in network administration.
Building secure systems means looking at how data centers and cloud portals are constructed. It means making systems harder, (or in IT parlance, “hardened”) and shielding them from cyberattacks. In many cases, it can mean creating end-to-end encryption tunnels or using hash technology to encrypt data in a database, so that hackers just end up with useless alphanumeric characters instead of sensitive information.
All this to say that the full stack developer should pay attention to cybersecurity when building any system. Yes, you probably will have competent network admins doing cybersecurity on their end, but making the job easier is a value-added part of what the full stack designer does. (Read also: How can IT security be measured?)
Don't Skimp on UX and UI
We've written extensively about how good interfaces make software products useful, and bad interfaces give users headaches.
User experience (UX) and user interface (UI) work means that engineering teams are getting feedback from focus groups early on, and making sure that what they are setting up is going to be easy for the end user to participate in. Ignore UX/UI at your peril, because so much of coding development, especially with no code and low code systems, is about creating the right presentation for the end user.
In a rapidly changing industry, it's important to prioritize your time, API-first development, cybersecurity and building an engaging UI, quickly and with creative control. Velo by Wix is a visual builder that allows the full stack programmer to do all of the above. Again, it's the abstraction of code modules into useful building blocks that allows professionals to spend more time looking at the what and the why, rather than just the how. Explore all the capabilities of Velo for a new way to plan and execute your projects.