Spending a day with a software application developer or programmer will allow you to experience firsthand what this work entails. School counselors and computer science teachers can often help you organize such a meeting.
If you are interested in computer industry careers in general, you should learn as much as possible about computers. Keep up with new technology by talking to other computer users and by reading related magazines, such as Computer (https://www.computer.org/csdl/magazine/co). You will also find it helpful to join computer clubs and use the Internet to find more information about this field. Visit the Association for Computing Machinery’s career Web site, https://jobs.acm.org, for access to a variety of employment resources.
Advanced students can put their design ideas and programming knowledge to work by designing and programming their own applications, such as simple games and utility programs.
Applications, or programs, are sets of codes that instruct computers on how to perform. Software application developers create these by developing and/or writing this code. Developers must consider every aspect of how an application will function, what users will do with it, and what might go wrong. They must also think about the interface—or the look of the app and how users interact with it.
Application developers may create programs for wide use, such as word processing, photo editing, or mapping software, or they may create specialized programs for professionals, such as accountants or doctors. Some companies specialized in custom software, which is often created for businesses or governments and must meet their needs. In some cases, these applications must also comply with specific laws or regulations.
Regardless of whom the end user is, software application developers must begin by defining the goal and purpose of the program. Next, they develop the program architecture and design strategy. Once this is approved and finalized, a team begins writing the program. Once this is done, the program goes through phases of testing, during which errors and bugs are corrected before it is released to the public or delivered to a client.
The growing popularity of smartphones and other mobile computing/telecommunications devices has created a new career specialty: mobile application developer. Mobile application developers create applications for smartphones—such as the Apple iPhone, Google Android, or BlackBerry—as well as for other handheld, Internet-enabled telecommunications/computing devices. Developing an application for a mobile device is much different than creating one for use on a computer. Mobile app developers need to design software that is user-friendly for the smaller screens of smartphones and other devices. They need to understand how users interact with their devices and design apps that are both functional (for example, stressing touch-screen tools rather than drop-down menus that are incorporated into traditional software applications), but also visually appealing. Mobile app developers need the standard knowledge of HTML, artificial intelligence tools, and object-oriented programming languages such as Java, Python, and C++ that all developers have, but also must be proficient in newer object-oriented programming languages and have knowledge of specific mobile development environments like Google’s Android and Apple’s iOS.