It’s pretty much impossible to visualize a world that doesn’t rely on electronic devices that are hooked up to the internet to help each of us communicate with one another. In the past 20 years, the concept of software development has changed significantly.
To keep up with the amount of information at our fingertips, automated solutions need to rely on extensive code that allows all of this digital information to be handled properly. The tools that software developers use to create their code have also changed drastically to handle the projects that large business enterprises work with every single day.
Solutions that automate analysis of data can’t just be written by a handful of developers through a single method of programming. Software development teams need more than just a single innovative concept to implement new ideas into their projects effectively.
Developers also need ways to code more efficiently. At the same time, it is imperative to ensure that the software is secure, reliable, and efficient at performing the various tasks that are required. These are only a few reasons why innovative tools need to be used by coding teams as efficiently as possible.
By following an innovative set of programming concepts, the best ideas for software development can truly become a reality. This guide will outline three of the most innovative tools that are transforming the way software developers are building their code and deploying their products.
CI/CD pipelines streamline tasks like the testing and deployment of code for software development teams. This allows them to spend more time building code and less time trying to fix bugs and review each other’s work. A high level of automation can always be found within traditional CI/CD pipelines.
The modern era allows for so many developers to work remotely. It is absolutely essential to have tools that allow for development teams to connect, communicate, and streamline their software development processes.
Secure Web Applications More Efficiently
Developers should try to recognize the security practices that they use to oversee code development for their web applications. Web applications have become a vulnerable source of cyber attacks in recent years thanks to their exposure to an international base of hackers.
The code that keeps these rich and dynamic web applications running needs to be protected against multiple threats when it goes live online. CI/CD pipelines help web applications stay protected online by securing their code’s development without needing to involve developers or an organization’s cybersecurity professionals directly.
These pipelines can instead automate processes like code analysis or data categorization to catch vulnerabilities in the software you’re working on before it ever gets exposed to threats in a live environment. CI/CD pipelines are therefore vital to developing an application for the web. These types of pipelines allow for developed code to be tightly supervised from its initial design phase all the way through final deployment.
The collaboration aspect that CI/CD pipelines enable can extend far beyond code development as well. A software development team that uses a CI/CD pipeline for the code that it’s developing can also give their CISOs and cybersecurity personnel more insight into the code that they’re building.
CISOs and their security teams can then gain additional opportunities to review the processes that developers are using to integrate security best practices into their code, and subsequently catch potential errors that would otherwise find their way into live programs.
Keep Your Code on the Cloud
Businesses need to rely on complex applications that process millions of lines of code. This means that these applications have to handle large sets of data to be analyzed in a short amount of time. The best way to keep so many digital assets organized and maintained in a single place is to use a cloud-storage solution like Dropbox or Google Drive.
CI/CD pipelines can exist on the cloud for simplified storage and organization of a software development team’s code so that there’s never the risk of losing your digital assets on a vulnerable network. Software development teams have the ability to host native cloud development for their software applications so that they can realize the greatest benefits of their CI/CD pipelines.
Cloud environments can also allow teams who use CI/CD pipelines to oversee the use of cloud-based microservices that eliminate the need for manual maintenance of components like configuration files and integration servers. This oversight can be automated to save hundreds of hours that would otherwise be spent on manual testing and other tedious and repetitive processes.
These cloud environments make it possible to automate testing for code by using your organization’s own cloud resources. That’s because cloud-native CI/CD pipelines don’t need to rely on physical network resources that slow down important tasks like the unit and system testing.
This is necessary to ensure that code is error-free and functioning as intended. Cloud environments can also allow development teams to set up various testing systems that let them review real-time scenarios of their code running in a production environment.
Make the Most of Your Feedback
CI/CD pipelines maximize the benefit of feedback that developers can obtain from their colleagues. It is easy to give and receive feedback on your code when you use code repositories that are available through CI/CD pipelines. These repositories designate specific members on your team to whom you give read and write access.
This concept increases the possibilities for collaboration while applying version control to a single repository that stores all of your code. By leveraging code repositories that are accessible through CI/CD pipelines, it becomes possible to adopt a separate approach that allows you and your team to work uninterrupted at all times.
This makes programming much more convenient while still allowing you to identify the conflicts that you have with your colleagues’ code as well as any errors isolated within your own work. This level of collaboration makes it much easier for you and your team to push out code into production that is error-free and efficient.
CI/CD pipelines can also promote intuitive review processes that allow other developers to quickly glance at your code and provide feedback when necessary. This goes both ways since it can make it easier for you to review code in real-time when it’s necessary as well. With this methodology, you can maximize your uptime and work specifically on your code as much as possible.
You wouldn’t want to walk into a meeting just to be asked to review a new feature of code that you have never seen before. CI/CD pipelines virtually eliminate the risk of getting left out of the loop due to their instantaneous feedback loops.
You can easily use CI/CD pipelines to engage with other developers quickly and efficiently. This means that you can increase the amount of productive feedback that you receive from them on the development of your code.
Take Advantage of Automation
The ability to take advantage of automation is certainly available with the resources that are integrated into CI/CD pipelines to build deployments. All updates go through the same process once they are inputted into the CI/CD pipeline.
The code will typically arrive at a predetermined code depository and go through several code checks and test servers. At the conclusion of this process, the code will likely pass the checks and be approved through the remainder of the deployment process. If there are errors or issues during the checks, then the code will not be deployed, and developers will have an opportunity to address the issue.
This deployment process takes full advantage of automation, making the development process very efficient and effective.
Automation is ideal for many developers because it speeds up the process of deploying code that has recently been developed. Instead of going through a manual deployment process, you can simply utilize the automation of a CI/CD pipeline to have the code deployed in a matter of minutes. This process can repeat multiple times per day on a regulated schedule, especially if you are developing an app that needs a lot of small build updates regularly.
While automation can make things a lot easier, it still has to be used in the proper way to provide developers with the benefits that they are looking for. There are good ways to use automation and bad ways to use automation.
Relying on automation to do everything is not a good idea because you still want to be monitoring the process at all times. There are vulnerabilities within CI/CD pipelines that can be exposed if the automated process is not maintained appropriately.
One of those vulnerabilities is the concept of security within CI/CD pipelines. The biggest problem with security is that CI/CD pipelines weren’t exactly developed with security in mind. This means that additional steps may need to be taken by development teams to ensure that their CI/CD pipeline remains secure at all times.
Enhancing Security in CI/CD Pipelines
Now that you know that cyber-security could be a major vulnerability within CI/CD pipelines, it might be a good idea to talk a little bit about how security can be enhanced to ensure that your projects achieve the maximum level of protection from hackers.
DevSecOps is a concept that can be useful in this type of work environment because it specifically focuses on enhancing software security during the development and deployment processes.
By promoting a familiar security concept like DevSecOps into the development environment, you can ensure that your Continuous Integration and Continuous Delivery pipelines remain secure at all times. Developers should also realize that DevSecOps promotes the idea of implementing security into the code itself, rather than from external sources outside of the pipeline.
DevSecOps makes it possible to easily prevent security breaches by taking advantage of an ideology that previously didn’t exist within most CI/CD pipelines. Traditional security measures can still be used in some cases, but maximum security within your pipeline may not be achieved until you explore other concepts like DevSecOps.
The ability to expand security measures as you expand your projects is a difficult task that can be hard to achieve. DevSecOps will provide you with ways to scale your security measures alongside your CI/CD pipeline. However, you will still need additional security measures to fully ensure that your projects are protected.
Unit tests that are based around security can be significant to implement because they can provide an additional layer of security within your project. The problem is that many development teams completely ignore security-based unit tests because they place their focus elsewhere.
You should always try to implement code that doesn’t include any possible vulnerabilities. One way to check this is to implement static analysis security testing. You can implement a scanner for specific types of coding languages to check your code for these security vulnerabilities. An alternative option is to integrate dynamic analysis security testing scanners to ensure that your code cannot be attacked from external sources.
Git and GitHub
The Git software is synonymous with the modern understanding of ‘version control’ in the world of software development. Created by Linus Torvalds, Git was originally considered to be a software that could enhance version control of the core kernel for the Linux operating system.
It has since given rise to the largest online storage and code collaboration space in existence, commonly recognized as GitHub. This transformation has reinvented how software developers share and collaborate with each other on their coding projects.
Permanently Integrate Version Control
It’s impossible to run successful software development without version control. These days, it’s necessary to use a version control application that provides high-view snapshots for each of your developer’s changes.
These snapshots make it easy to understand the changes that a developer has just made. A development team that uses no version control solutions can quickly run into confusing issues with its developers struggling to upload their revisions against those of their colleagues.
Increase Social Connectivity with GitHub
GitHub allows for social connectivity to come alive in your software development process. GitHub is an amazing development tool that allows you to connect and share your projects with your colleagues and other external users outside your organization.
The possibilities for enhancing your code extend well beyond development since GitHub enables collaboration in plenty of additional ways. GitHub promotes the sharing of other software development projects as a way for you to collaborate with your colleagues, even if you’re not with them in person or working within the same organization.
You can review copies of other projects as a way to understand the methods that someone else implemented a feature. You can also figure out how you can go about changing it yourself with new additions to the code.
The biggest takeaway regarding GitHub’s social connectivity is that the collaboration it promotes doesn’t need to be limited to one aspect of development. GitHub streamlines everything about development so that code is more transparent and understandable to everybody working on it.
Maximize Your Team’s Productivity
It would be a shame to squander opportunities to increase productivity when so many software developers need to constantly iterate upon and refine their code. Tools like Git are so helpful because of their documentation. The documentation makes it much easier for developers to get up-to-speed.
The ability to use Git and immediately apply it to your software development projects is an imperative skill that you need to have if you want to maximize your coding productivity. Git focuses heavily on user convenience and serves as an intuitive interface that developers can use to quickly track their coding changes.
The interface is constantly being updated. This provides developers with the freedom to tailor their own bash commands, organize their local repository of code, and optimize personal workflow by adding files to previous commit statements. These features go a long way toward making individual contributors as productive as possible, without interfering with other developers’ code.
Agile Development Frameworks
The agile development framework is the king of the software development world. It makes projects much more manageable by breaking them up into digestible chunks.
If you haven’t heard much about Agile development, which basically just envelops multiple agile methodologies into a single term, it might be challenging to understand how to apply it to your software development projects. There are a few key tenets of agile development that you can immediately incorporate into your coding process to improve your software and streamline your workflow.
Make Coding More Manageable
Agile development emphasizes taking one thing at a time to ensure the greatest success possible for multiple, bite-sized amounts of work. You can improve the time you spend on your code by using an iterative process of development that promotes feedback as soon as the code has been reviewed.
Rather than make no progress and wait around for reviewers to look at your code, agile development frameworks force code to constantly be iterated upon and eliminate downtime.
This process of constantly tackling tiny pieces of code goes hand-in-hand with CI/CD pipelines, promoting constant reviews of code to keep pushing functioning features into production.
By making the coding process more manageable, you will save time, improve productivity, and increase efficiency. You may also notice that it is easier to produce higher-quality code when working in this type of environment.
Improve Your Code Iterations
Working within an Agile development framework means that you should take all of the necessary steps to iterate effectively upon your code. It also means that each iteration involves taking the correct steps to create the best possible code for your project. Make sure that you’re making the most of your Agile iterations by optimizing their steps.
Your software development iterations should consider what’s most important to the client. You should always be thinking about implementing the features you believe your client would most heavily favor during your iterative processes.
An easy way to remember that you’re giving the appropriate amount of focus to customer-driven features is by building a checklist of features to build. You should also consider deadlines for implementing each feature and design specifications for each feature you plan to develop.
Achieve Better Interdepartmental Collaboration
You can apply agile frameworks to your projects even when they include IT personnel who aren’t specifically working on code. Perhaps you involve your cybersecurity team. Maybe your DevOps teams need to help set project deliverables and timelines that affect them.
You can learn to apply Agile development frameworks to these inter-departmental projects for maximum efficiency and productive collaboration. Agile artifacts can extend to setting sprints that determine user stories and acceptability criteria, not just sprints to churn out an iterated line of code.
Agile development frameworks can help organize many moving parts between departments involved in a single project by setting specific milestones that you can have certain personnel oversee. It can be difficult to make sure that different departments contribute to milestones that affect your code and your project. By applying inter-departmental Agile frameworks, you can create a great way to keep everyone in check during the process.
What Does the Future of Code Look Like?
Code for software can only become so complicated before it’s virtually impossible for developers to create it. The future of software development has many possible routes. Many of them lead down a path with much less manual coding involved during the process.
With the continued rise of automation, connectivity, and an increasingly diverse collection of programming languages, there are more than a few plausible scenarios for the future of coding.
Low and No-Code as the Norm
The future of coding may not include all that much coding, after all. Visual interfaces like integrated development environments, or IDEs, traditionally required a whole team of developers to even maintain. These now have the potential to automate software development by promoting low or no-code environments.
Visualization is one of the biggest features that these environments will use to reduce manual coding requirements. This transformation will improve development efficiency and promote the creation of new products and features.
Writing code manually can be time-consuming and tedious. The future of software development will likely rely on automated processes that can take care of bug-fixing and iterating on snippets of code designated by you or your team.
Machine learning and artificial intelligence will undoubtedly become integral to automating code in the future. Developing skills within these fields will go a long way to contributing to future projects that require fewer programming skills.
Cloud Computing will Transform Tech Roles
Cloud computing has radically shifted the technology landscape and proliferated movements in DevOps that have transformed the roles in tech. The dominance of cloud computing can run entire applications and make the existing roles for actually developing and testing software applications obsolete.
It’s also increasingly important to know how to protect sensitive data on the cloud. This can help data centers and business enterprises avoid threats that occur on their physical networks. Cloud storage devices are beneficial for reducing the number of entry points available on your network to cybercriminals and malicious software.
You can use cloud-native solutions to store your code, and valuable digital assets as wireless connectivity enable greater technological capabilities in the future.
Big Data Continues to Proliferate
Business enterprises continue to leverage the benefits of ingesting and synthesizing massive sets of data. It only makes sense that skills in data management will be crucial for software developers to adopt so that they can meaningfully contribute to a variety of projects.
Understanding how to prioritize data sets and categorize and analyze them accordingly will be paramount for bridging the gap between IT departments and executive stakeholders.
The Internet of Things Takes the Stage
Software developers need to know how to create solutions that encrypt IoT devices’ data on wireless networks. These developers can give themselves a leg up in the near future in terms of skill sets by combining an understanding of new innovations in IoT with an indefatigable drive to learn more.
There’s no such thing as a plateau in terms of learning and mastering new skills in IT, and the same holds especially true for the burgeoning field of IoT. Learn what you can about communication protocols that IoT devices use to interact.
The Concept of Machine Learning
One major question about the future of coding revolves around the concept of machine learning and artificial intelligence. As these technologies continue to progress with time, new opportunities to make the programming process more efficient could start to appear.
Does this mean that coding will no longer be developed by human beings in the future? While it is unlikely that humans will stop coding entirely, there is a possibility that artificial intelligence can replace some fundamental jobs that humans currently do today.
In the distant future, there is a reasonably good chance that advanced technologies will be available that allow for computers and artificial intelligence to write their own code and develop software.
One early example of artificial intelligence is the concept of self-driving cars. They use sensors and cameras to relay information to an AI driving system to ‘self-drive’ the car. This might be a completely different topic, but the general concept remains similar in the grand scheme of things.
Machine learning is the concept of having an artificial intelligence system learn with experience over time. For example, if you simulated through weather patterns for five consecutive years with a machine learning system, there is a pretty good chance that with every passing day, the system will more accurately predict the weather.
This concept can work across any number of industries and it can get very complicated really quickly. The biggest problem that the world faces right now is trying to understand how many human-based jobs will be lost due to machine learning and artificial intelligence.
Imperative Skills of Team-Based Coding
Many development teams that develop and deploy code with CI/CD pipelines understand the important skills that come with developing code as a team. There are resources available that can help make this process easier — but it doesn’t guarantee success unless everyone is on the same page.
Communication is one of the primary skills that come into play because it is imperative to be on the same page as the other people on your development team.
If you are managing a large development team that utilizes many of the tools and resources that have previously been mentioned, then it is also important to not ignore the imperative skills that are required for team-based coding environments. These skills can range from technical skills, communication and accessibility.
One of the most important skills that will be required to effectively develop code is to be able to analyze a lot of data in a short period of time. Analytical skills come into play constantly throughout the development process. If you are debugging code, running tests, or simply developing the code, you will likely come across scenarios that require you to analyze output logs and data.
Familiarity with Multiple Programming Languages
There is the possibility that you will have to understand multiple different types of programming languages if you are a software engineer or developer. Many different coding languages can be used for software development, including Python, C#, Java, and many more.
If you are familiar with the fundamentals of multiple programming languages, then you are probably prepared to handle complex situations that might arise throughout the development. You will also likely be more comfortable working with different types of code editors, platforms, and resources.
Experience with cyber-security is always important. This is a skill that a lot of people, unfortunately, do not possess. It is always a good idea to have someone specifically designated for a security role to ensure that your developed code is properly protected from cyber-hackers and other similar security threats.
The final skill that you should work to hone is the concept of troubleshooting. Debugging errors and finding solutions to issues can be tedious, frustrating, and time-consuming. The process of troubleshooting can take a lot of time, but the right types of people may have this skill, and it can significantly improve overall efficiency when solving problems.
A solid development team will have a mix of skills spread across the team. Some individuals may have experience with networking, while others may understand security or troubleshooting. With that being said, everyone should be on the same page in terms of communication. If any of the people on the development team are unable to communicate, then that is a recipe for disaster in the future.
You likely started reading this post with the intent of learning about several innovative coding tools that can improve your coding methods and efficiency. Many other topics had to be addressed before you would completely understand everything about these innovative resources and tools.
The truth is that every developer has an opportunity to utilize specific skills, resources, and plugins to improve the coding experience. This is true for many different programming languages, platforms, and resources across the industry.
CI/CD pipelines were a common topic within this post because they play a significant role in automation and deployment for web apps and mobile apps.
Other concepts were also addressed, including possible pathways for the future of coding. This section discussed artificial intelligence and machine learning, which happen to be two essential topics that will impact the world’s future.
Towards the end of this post, you had the opportunity to learn about some of the most important skills required for team-based software development. These skills come into play for in-person development teams and remote development teams.
You should use all of the information that is available within this post to gain an understanding of the different ways to improve and transform the way that you develop code. Instead of viewing software development from a linear perspective, it might be a good idea to think outside of the box in the future.
Top Image Credit: cottonbro; pexels
Gabe Nelson is a contributor on behalf of semaphoreci.com. Semaphore provides cloud-based CI/CD software to some of the world’s best programming teams. Their expertise and innovation allow them to provide valuable information to the software development industry.