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.