Technology 101: What does programming mean?
The world of programming has shifted dramatically over the last decade. There are now an ever increasing number of options for businesses to consider when planning their technology projects. So what does this mean when it comes to programming and developing software?
Programming is the engineering process of writing code, and a skill that used to be vital to the progress of the technical ability of any business. However, this was before the arrival of the intuitive, visual interfaces for creating functionality that we see today. As there are now so many clever apps and code-generating applications, do we even need programmers as much anymore?
Let’s take a closer look at how the meaning of programming is changing.
Programming for the modern business
Software development spans the creation of a wide range of digital systems and tools – from websites and databases via APIs and middleware through to mobile and desktop applications.
All development projects begin with a defined business need. Perhaps the company decides to automate some of its processes, create new ways to communicate, or enhance customer experience through offering a digital product. In one of its simplest forms, a software development project could be to just set up a website.
Depending on the complexity of the task – and the resources available – the company will make a decision on whether to outsource the development or carry out the work internally.
- Desktop software development
A desktop application is a piece of software installed on a computer. There are of course millions of applications available already, addressing many of the shared, generic needs of users. However, businesses often require custom software to be built in order to carry out a very specific task. This is where a programming resource may be required to build an application. Common languages used for writing desktop software include C++, Java, C#, and NET. Being object-oriented, these languages allow programmers to combine pre-defined sets of code in order to create functionality.
- Mobile application development
Developing apps for mobiles and tablets require different skills to desktop software as there are several unique operating systems and technical requirements at play. Typical languages used are Objective-C for iOS, Java for Android and C# for Windows phones. There are also cross-platform tools, such as HTML5 and Xamarin, that enable development for all three operating systems.
- Website development
- Database development
When developing databases, there are various approaches used. A common process involves building the tables of the database using MySQL, SQLite or SQL Server and using a programming language to call on that data.
- Middleware development
Middleware is defined as a function used to facilitate communications between two or more software systems or web services. It is often used to streamline the user experience by providing the illusion of using one single system despite having several different components and applications.
- Web service / API development
For machine-to-machine communications, web service development often requires the ability to create code using XML and WSDL, as well as an understanding of the JSON or SOAP A developer would typically also need to know how to manage the various APIs at play when enabling different applications’ ability to speak to each other.
The concept of codeless programming
Depending on what the desired end result is, there are plenty of development tools available – many of which require little or no prior knowledge of coding or programming. Some examples of software-generating tools with a simple, visual interface include Zoho Creator, App Press, and Intuit Quickbase.
It could be easy to argue that the world doesn’t need as many programmers anymore, as there are plenty of codeless drag-and-drop software creation solutions available.
In reality, there is still very much a need for programmers – however, their skill sets need to change in line with the shifting market. Rather than just bringing coding and development to the table, they now should also act as advisors in guiding the client through this jungle of options and supporting them in finding the best solution possible.
Programming now vs 10 years ago
Ten years ago, cloud computing was still in its infancy. The smartphone revolution hadn’t happened and consumer tablets were unheard of. Today, these things all form a fundamental part of how we look at application development.
Software as a Service (SaaS) has shifted our expectations – both as individuals and as businesses – to the point where we want to be able to quickly scale our use up or down, turn access off and on, take applications with us everywhere we go and access them on every device. This means that programmers now often need to understand how to code in, or integrate with, several different programming languages rather than just one. Although the development landscape has also changed and many new coding platforms have been created to simplify the process, the touchpoints with other systems and frameworks are growing exponentially. It’s essential for clients to ensure their software development partners have the skills needed to factor in the complexity of their application requirements.
What’s in store for the future?
Some of the trends that are predicted to disrupt the technology landscape over the next few years include the use of Internet of Things and Big Data. Those businesses that choose to develop solutions to harness the benefit of the ever-growing wealth of data available to them are likely to be better equipped to compete on a greater scale.
We’re also expecting to see companies gravitating even more towards self-service applications for key processes both within the business and externally, which will boost productivity and streamline operations.
Still, whatever the future holds, it will be critical for businesses to have a dependable development partner standing by to offer tailored solutions to meet the needs of an ever-changing market.