The most important skills for a software developer in 2022
Software developers have a mandate to polish their technical skills on an ongoing basis, but recent trends have shown that many aspects of development are influenced by DevOps, data engineering, AI, and the cloud. In addition to these, as teams become more and more distributed, software developers should focus on building management skills as well as communication skills. While not every developer is a manager, the way developers self-manage and expose their knowledge within and across teams can make or break businesses.
Skill up now and tomorrow
Software development is a wide field in constant change. Being sufficiently skilled in the current demanding marketplace is a MUST. In fact, acquiring and nurturing the right or the most sought-after skills is a journey all software developers embark on sooner or later.
Software developers are expected to understand the requirements and business case, and then engineer a digital solution that solves the requirement. While some development tasks can be extremely specific and require little context, most development tasks require developers to:
- Build code knowledge by analyzing the current state of the code
- Refactor code by integrating new features and simplifying legacy code
- Test code by comparing expected results with actual results
- Formalize requirements (specifications) by discussing with customers, analysts, and other developers
- Estimate feasibility in terms of cost and schedule constraints
- Break down work into SMART features or increments
- Supervise development and have a backup plan when things do not go according to plan
In other words, software developers need technical know-how and business know-how. While such skills can be nurtured independently for the most part, collaboration and harmonization with QA, architects, and business analysts are also part of the professional’s mandate.
Software developers need to develop technical skills and communication skills, as well as strike a balance between the two.
Skills developers need
The skills professional developers should have may shift depending on the progress of mainstream technology. Some fields or domains may be more popular or gain more traction at a given point.
This section, details some domain skills which are MUST HAVES in 2022. Before presenting them, it is worth remembering that tools and technology will never solve issues or make a business flourish unless used by skilled professionals.
Some of the qualities of trustworthy software developers are universal and are gained through practice and experience:
- Analyze and assess issues and technical information
- Apply critical thinking and solving problems
- Research for answers and alternative ways of troubleshooting
- Deliver on time and according to schedule
- Manifest due diligence and adhere to best practices
DevOps and Containers
Software developers need to build up knowledge around:
- Version control: Git
- Containers: Docker
- Container orchestration: Kubernetes
All these skills fall under the DevOps branch of development, but the current tools are meant to help any developer self-serve when it comes to code deployment, code testing and code integration.
Data Engineering – Structures – Architecture
While SQL remains the staple database language, knowledge of MongoDB, Oracle or Cassandra is always a plus. Databases are the starting point of capturing and formalizing data structures, of optimizing storage and performance.
Software developers working with data and algorithms are also known as Data Engineers. Their responsibilities go beyond managing databases. Their additional skills include:
- Data analysis: SQL, Python, Scala Ø
- Cloud platforms: AWS, Azure, GCP
- Big Data: Kafka, Hadoop, Spark
Software developers need to:
- Showcase their work and their progress
- Capture the real-time interaction of data and function
- Provide sanity reports and dashboards
Data Visualization tools help developers provide the static or dynamic details of data graphically, at a given point. Go for one of the following: Tableau, PowerBI, Google Data Studio and many others.
Mastering the right programming language and the right tool set for it remains a no brainer:
- C# and Visual Studio Code as IDE
- Java and IntelliJ or Eclipse as IDE
- Python and Jupiter Notebook as IDE
- Go and GoLand or VSCode as IDE
Cloud refers to a technology and to SaaS platforms that support:
- Enhanced data security
- Extended hosting
- Web-enabled access
- Quick scalability
Software engineers will need to understand how cloud platforms (AWS, Azure, GCP) are configured and how they can be used to support the applications.
AI and ML
AI (Artificial Intelligence) and ML (Machine Learning) generally help systems improve their efficiency and productivity. Software developers can hone in on AI and ML by learning about:
- Data engineering
- Annotation and Metadata
Security and Encryption
Keeping assets and data secure at all times is tied to how you:
- Write the code, so that it cannot be exploited or tampered with
- Restrict access to the code, so that changes can be easily rolled back
- Enforce authentication and permissions to your application, so that users have access to what they are permitted to work on
- Apply algorithms, including hash encryption, so that your users data (PII in particular) observes legislation
Many software developers are bound to reach a level of seniority where they are capable of running teams, projects, and products. This is where Product Management skills or even job titles kick in.
Product Management refers to:
- Coordinating staff and assigning the right person to the right task
- Correlating business and usage with technical specifications
- Identifying opportunities to grow products as well as flag current inconsistencies and limitations
- Elaborating a vision for your product by understanding the business and the domain to their fullest
Communication and Collaboration
Communication and collaboration are THE pathways to making yourself understood and to understanding what other want from you. These skills are essential in various scenarios:
- You are part of a distributed, hybrid team you need to synchronize with
- You must design specifications for faceted business cases, so you must agree on flows and use cases Ø You have large projects where multiple teams weigh in and contribute to, so you must keep everyone abreast and in check to avoid delays
- You have to onboard colleagues, so you must quickly identify what they struggle with
- You encounter blockers and bottlenecks, so you must investigate why these occurred
Knowing what to say and how to convey your message are both skills that come with time and exposure to a wealth of contexts.
Software development is a craft which can be perfected to the level of art. Whether you see yourself as a Jack-of-All-Trades or as a niche expert, it is important to remain relevant and learn about the latest trends and developments in the field.