The advancements in automation and artificial intelligence have made new tools available to software developers. Automation tools alone are now speeding up development cycles in most teams. Artificial intelligence and branches like machine learning are helping developers achieve more in less time, particularly with tasks like testing and code standardisation.
The big question remains: will there be a time when machines – and technologies like AI – replace human developers and automate the whole app development process? Are the jobs of developers threatened by these new technologies? Before we get to the answers, there are a few things that we need to look into first.
Scaling up development projects
First, we have to understand the competitiveness of the software market today. Software solutions are being used to solve a wide variety of problems. As more problems need to be solved, more solutions are required.
Unfortunately, developing new solutions takes time, and keeping existing software or apps up to date requires a lot of resources. It is not always possible to scale development projects up without investing heavily in new resources.
Automation becomes the next best thing. By automating things like code checking and deployment – and even infrastructure management – developers can focus on actually building the best apps for their users. Automation is the key to scaling up.
Artificial intelligence boosts automation to a whole new level by making it easier to adapt to a changing process. Where human input was needed before, AI can now take over and automate the process to a certain degree.
…To a certain degree
That last part is very important. While AI is advancing rapidly and automation can now be implemented across multiple, complex tasks, it is not (yet) possible to completely automate software development. Even more specific tasks like testing still require human input.
Automation testing tools are easier to find these days. If you take a look at the testing solutions from globalapptesting.com, you will see that the automation features being offered are more extensive than ever. Global App Testing also supports multiple testing methods.
However, the objective of automating testing is not to eliminate the need for human QA engineers. It is actually the opposite. With a simple QA testing, the primary objectives are boosting testing speed and output while maintaining quality and reducing costs.
Automation achieves these objectives effectively. With a standard to follow, scripts and codes can be evaluated without fail. When errors or potential violations of coding standards are found, the automation tool can notify developers.
In some cases, automatic corrections are possible, but the feature is limited by the ability of automation tools. Tools available today cannot understand the bigger picture – the kind of experience that the app should deliver to users.
One final factor to understand is AI’s inability to do creative work or think outside the box. While AI entities are getting smarter and complex automation is a common thing right now, they still rely on patterns and must start their learning process in a controlled environment.
See AI and automation tools as extensions of human developers. They are not here to replace developers, but rather to make sure that developers can push the envelope further and achieve more with the right tools at their fingertips.
Automation eliminates the need for repetitive tasks such as function testing and quality assurance. This means developers can focus more on things like UX flow design and actually writing efficient codes. Without the repetitive tasks, developers can be more meticulous with their codes too.
At the same time, automation allows developers to streamline their pipelines and development cycles. When an update reaches a certain stage, for example, automated testing can kick in and start reviewing the codes against existing components and modules.
Instead of performing manual testing and then deploying the update to production, developers can quickly move on to the next sprint cycle or the other tasks that they are handling. When corrections are needed, developers immediately know which problems to solve.
What about the future?
So, AI cannot replace developers right now, but what about in the future? Will AI be smart enough to develop software autonomously? It is difficult to answer this question with a NO, but that isn’t going to happen anytime soon either.
For starters, there is a huge gap to fill before AI can think creatively. Considering how software development combines logical and creative thinking in such a complex way, it’s hard to imagine machines doing software development autonomously.
What will happen is the introduction of better automation tools; smarter tools in particular. Instead of using predefined parameters, future testing automation tools will be able to recognise coding errors and potential faults in new modules based on more factors.
Instead of relying on strict standards, AI can recommend better ways to keep your software efficient. It is up to you – and developers in general – to decide whether those improvement recommendations are in line with the objectives of the development project.
That brings us to the last point that needs to be understood, and that is…
Focus on users
As automation tools and artificial intelligence free developers from mundane, repetitive tasks, there is one more thing that developers can focus more on, and that is the user. Users are more sensitive to the experience they get, which means UX will only become more important in the future.
It will be up to developers to dig deep into the minds of their users, fully understand what users expect from the app, and work towards refining the UX to meet those expectations. These are tasks that AI cannot do for obvious reasons.
Sure, automation may reduce the demand for specific positions like QA engineers, but it will not eliminate these jobs entirely. A development team that normally requires a team of QA engineers can now rely on one, which means the whole cycle can be faster and leaner.
From a business point of view, being faster and leaner is good for the bottom line. Development costs can be brought way down while updates can be pushed faster. Users are kept happy – if not made happier – too.
This is the combination that ensures success in the future. As the market becomes more competitive, automation can be the competitive advantage you need to stay ahead. Experts are already saying that automation may lead to hyper-personalised apps in the future.
The first step
You don’t have to wait years to enjoy the benefits of automation in software development. As mentioned before, the automation tools available today are more than capable of automating repetitive tasks effectively. Automating testing is a good example.
Automation allows for testing to be an inseparable part of any development pipeline, eliminating the need to wait until the end of the development cycle to perform basic function testing. Once again, you can streamline your development cycles without replacing developers with machines.
That’s not to say that developers shouldn’t improve. Branching out to focusing on users, becoming more driven by problems that can be solved using software solutions, and integrating automation in the right way to support maximum productivity are among the things that developers can do to fully take advantage of automation and stay ahead of the market as a whole.