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What are some of the must-have developer survival skills

The software development scene has been undergoing rapid changes since its beginning. As new technologies come up, software development has evolved accordingly. The development process is constantly tweaked and optimised to exploit the latest technologies. So in this ever-evolving world how do you survive as a developer? When learning new skills is a permanent part of a developer’s job description, what skills will last you a lifetime? What are some of the must-have developer skills? Here’s a guide

Always see the bigger picture

Software development doesn’t exist in a vacuum, and neither does a software developer’s job. Every decision is probably connected to a series of reasons. For example, the frontend of an application connects to the user persona, revenue generation, resources available, long term software plans, and a lot more. And the organisation has a vision for the application as a whole.  

And organisations are looking for developers who can see this larger picture. It’s one thing to keep completing the tickets and tasks assigned. But a developer who can focus on the entire picture at the same time will be a great asset to the team. If you are thinking about how you can do something better, so it better fits the organisation’s goals, you’ll always be a wanted commodity. 

This way of thinking will also help you grow as a developer. Understanding different aspects of software development and how your role plays with others, helps you plan better, and make sure what you’re creating is aligned with the goals of the team and the organisation. You’ll be able to come up with better ideas, provide better insights into the process. 

Coding skills

Literally in the job description, and kind of a given for a developer. Good coding skill is a must have survival skill for developers. Good coders are not born, they’re made. Coding skills are honed over years and it’s rarely an individual effort. 

Here’s where code review comes up. The main goal of code review may be to make sure that your product has good code. But this is a great opportunity to learn from other coders. It’s an opportunity to improve your coding skills, tweak your style, correct your mistakes, and exchange ideas. There’s an excellent guide on github on how to do code reviews and how to get your code reviewed. But essentially it comes down to going in with a humble learning attitude. 

Even if you’re doing the code review. 

Keep surveying the horizon

Always be aware of the latest developments in your field, and anything that may affect your work or project. For a project this could mean staying aware of new versions of tools or languages you may be using. Unless you’re a step ahead, your product that was functioning perfectly may break the next day. This could mean a lot of extra work and ruined weekends for you and your team. 

For you as a developer, this could mean new coding practises, new architectures, or new technologies that are coming up. Always be on the lookout for the latest. 

Like many skills, this is a mark of a good developer that cannot be earned overnight. 

Communication – a highly important developer skill

Let’s face it, in every job, communication is key. Your work doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Even if you’re an astronaut on a spacewalk and you’re literally in the vacuum of space, you need other people. Jokes aside, to be a good developer you have to communicate. You should be able to convey your ideas in a clear and easily understood manner. 

Communication can be tricky when you’re working with people from all over the world. Even when you’re not a remote worker, office communication is tricky. And let’s face it, one day you may suddenly have to work in remote. Everyone has different experiences and different expectations. Some people love small talk, some are straight to business, there will be people who use a lot of emojis, and some who use stickers and gifs. There may also be language barriers. Always assume that people have only good intentions and mean well. Ask for clarification when confused.

Sarcasm is fun, but make sure your teammates are on the same page, not everyone gets or enjoys sarcasm. And it’s hard to convey emotions online, particularly if you’re texting. 

Make sure you master communication, this is a must have among top developer skills.

Be a team player

Everyone in a team is playing a role, an important role. And the team needs to be firing on all cylinders to keep everything moving. An experienced team is like a well-oiled machine, all the elements moving smoothly in sync. Know about what your team is good at, where every member excels at, and ask for help and help each other accordingly. 

And always remember, you don’t have to, and you shouldn’t do everything by yourself

Attitude is everything – not exactly one of the top developer skills, but a must-have nonetheless.

As you may have gleaned from the last three paragraphs, attitude matters a lot. How you see your role, how you see your work, your colleagues, your project really matters. Your attitude will reflect in how you do your work, the results, the interactions with your colleagues and ultimately the project. To be a good developer, go in with a good attitude. Go in with doing your best work, give your everything, and get it done no matter what.

Sincere gratitude to our senior developer Tomy Varghese for his help in writing this article

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