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Applications developer: Job description

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Applications developers translate software requirements into workable programming code and maintain and develop programs for use in business.

Most will specialise in a specific development field, such as mobile phone applications, accounting software, office suites or graphics software, and will have in-depth knowledge of at least one computer language.

Applications, or 'apps', can be written for a particular system, such as Windows or Android, or across numerous platforms, including computers and mobile devices.

Job titles and specific duties may vary between organisations but the role usually involves writing specifications and designing, building, testing, implementing and sometimes supporting applications using programming languages and development tools.

Applications developers work in a range of business sectors, including finance and the public sector. They often work as part of a team with other IT professionals, such as software engineers and systems analysts, and write programs according to their specifications.

They may also work on generic products or for individual clients providing bespoke solutions.

The work of an applications developer differs from a systems developer in that systems software allows a computer to actually run. Users interface with the applications software, which is served by the systems software.

Typical work activities

The principal function of an applications developer is to make computers perform specific tasks, based on the client's specifications.

In general, responsibilities include:

  • establishing a detailed program specification through discussion with clients;
  • clarifying what actions the program is intended to perform;
  • breaking down program specification into its simplest elements and translating this logic into a programming language;
  • devising possible solutions to anticipated problems;
  • working as part of a team, which may be established purely for a particular project to rite a specific section of the program;
  • combining all elements of the program design and testing it;
  • testing sample data-sets to check that output from the program works as intended;
  • conducting testing and installing the program into production;
  • reacting to problems and correcting the program as necessary;
  • evaluating and increasing the program's effectiveness;
  • adapting the program to new requirements, as necessary;
  • conducting user-acceptance testing to ensure the program can be used easily, quickly and accurately;
  • writing detailed documentation for the operation of the program by users and computer operators;
  • consulting manuals, periodicals and technical reports to learn new ways to develop programs and maintain existing skills and knowledge;
  • updating, repairing, modifying and developing existing software and generic applications.
Written by AGCAS editors
July 2015

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