What is a Web App Developer, and What Do They Do?
Ever since the internet became the most ubiquitous distributed application system we could possibly have imagined, this enormous, ever-expanding technical landscape has needed the dedication of Web application developers. This was an inevitability given the web’s exponential growth since the early 90’s, and the significance of our interconnectivity on a global scale on all levels – cultural, ideological, educational, technological, economic, among many others. The internet needed guiding hands to facilitate travel – to allow both the transfer of information, and provide user-friendly navigation through countless processes.
So, who are the people behind the development of these applications, what is their purpose, and how do they go about the process, from writing the first line of code, to final implementation?
If you didn’t know already – A web application or web app is any software that runs in a web browser.
Web applications are, therefore, computer programs allowing website visitors to submit and retrieve data to/from a database over the Internet using their preferred web browser.
The data is then presented to the user within their browser as information is generated dynamically (in a specific format, e.g. in HTML using CSS) by the web application through a web server. Web app developers are the coders defining just how the data is transferred and related between the website and the user. Behind that Gmail or Steam icon on your desktop, there is a great deal of sophisticated architecture at work.
As an aspiring Web app developer, you can spend countless hours immersing yourself in online lectures, tutorials, strategy guides, and essentially polishing up on the theory of how the machine works, but oftentimes, there is no substitute for hands-on experience.
Like the aspiring engineer, or even amateur tinkerer, if you’re curious about how the underlying system is formed, what supports it, what maintains it, what defines how it looks and how it feels, don’t be afraid to fail. It’s one thing to encourage you to disassemble your toaster, it’s quite another to tell you to throw yourself headlong into your first development project. As you can imagine, there’s always going to be pitfalls to self-tutelage, so we at Code Institute, while offering detailed instruction into what precisely makes a capable Web app developer, do actively encourage the use of open-source resources to fill in the blanks.
A Web App Developer needs to understand, particularly in their infancy as a developer, that even in failure, hours are never wasted if they hint at future progress.
If you work in an office environment, or even spend much of your personal time at a desktop, web applications are constantly at your fingertips. From editing a spreadsheet on Google Docs so that your colleague can view and edit it collaboratively, uploading photographs to the iCloud, listening to music, checking the train timetable, managing your expenses on mint, or simply checking your Gmail.
For most of us, web applications are just a click away. They’ve embedded themselves into our everyday schedules for some time now. They’re part of the cultural consciousness now, so to speak.
So, what precisely are the expectations in place for a modern day Web App Developer?
Immediately it should be understood that while there is an overarching skill set that lends itself to the vast majority of tasks met by Web App Developers, the technical skills and tools they use often change on a project to project basic. Overall, a typical day might include any, or all, of the following tasks:
-Developing and managing software packages for websites.
-Developing and managing installation programs for websites.
-Programming web application codes.
-Programming content and page links.
-Troubleshooting and debugging.
-Analysis and testing.
What type of problems might future Web App Developers encounter? Is it a good time to become one?
One of the uncertainties for future Web Application Developers is whether or not they will be subject to the law of diminishing returns for App development.
Will there come a time when there is a creative impasse for current App development, in which the market is either saturated with identical applications, or monopolised by a select few producers who have the resources and capital, both monetary and intellectual, to maintain a constant advantage in production?
It happens in virtually every other industry, and while the technological environment is one in which innovation and unique ideas thrive more than most others, the tech sphere is not immune to a drought in imagination. There are only so many identical currency apps the world can create, and xe.com is still the giant to kill. Thankfully for the tech-savvy out there, technology is not in a fixed state, and on some unseen technical horizon, in a basement or an office, there’s always the possibility of a giant-killer being coded from scratch.
So, not only should a web app developer be well-versed technically, it helps to have a fresh vantage point; a fresh perspective as to what web applications might be of benefit to future browsers. In a technological environment always in the process of updating itself and moving forward, the world will always need creative, ambitious, tech-savvy web app developers.