The role of software engineers in app development

app development

Apps are easily stored on our tablets, phones and computers, and many of us use them every day. We may use them for essential services such as banking or grocery shopping, for online gaming and booking holidays, or for an endless variety of niche activities, including identifying birdsong and discovering what is in the night sky.

Due to generally straightforward and user-friendly interfaces, it is easy to take the convenience and efficiency of apps for granted. However, a vast amount of work has taken place in their development to consider every aspect of the app and to make using it a positive experience. Among those playing an essential role in app development are software engineers.

What is a software engineer? 

Software engineers work in the development of software applications at every part of the process, from the design and development through to the testing and maintenance. Examples that they work with include computer games, operating systems, business applications, network control systems and middleware. With technology continually advancing, and software needing to keep pace, there is a high demand for skilled software engineers.

There is no single way to make software engineering one’s career, but most employers will be looking for a bachelor’s or master’s degree. These courses can be found at universities across the county. However, one may find an online degree from a top university is a more practical option, especially one that delivers the high standard of education needed to become a software engineer.

If one already has a bachelor’s degree in computer science, mathematics, engineering, or a related subject and wants to specialize in software engineering, they should look at the Online Master of Computer Science — Software Engineering at Baylor University Online. With small class sizes, 1:1 student support, and projects that offer immediate job applications, this course will prepare students for a successful career in this expanding industry by teaching software systems development, maintenance, and design methods.

App development

Although easy to use, apps are complex things with a lot of input needed in their design and development. Many types of professionals are needed to create an effective app, including graphic artists, marketing teams, project managers and UX designers – but the input of software engineers is essential at every stage.

Concept into code 

After deciding on the concept of the app, the role of the software engineer is to translate it into a computer language or code so that it will work with the required operating system. Software engineers generally know several coding languages such as Python, JavaScript and HTML — to name but a few of those available.

The language chosen will depend on the operating system it is intended for. Objective-C or Swift are considered the best for an iOS system. Java is Android’s official coding language, but Kotlin and C/C++ are also commonly used. Of course, often the app will need to work across more than one system so the concept may need to be translated into different codes or the software engineer may opt to use a language such as React Native, which can work across both platforms.

Technology stacks 

The programming language is only one of the ‘materials’ software engineers need to build an app. They also need to use the right tools and framework. Put together, these are called a ‘technology stack’ or ‘tech stack’ and it is essential that the right elements are chosen to work well with each other. This can have a complex structure with different components in each part, ranging from the client-side or front end to the server-side or backend.

The front end provides the interface that allows the user to interact with the app. There the software engineer must select the languages and other components that give the user a satisfying user experience, including making it convenient to use and easy to access, as well as conveying the information and calls to action that the app is designed for.

The backend ensures all the features of the app function as they should. As well as choosing the right programming languages, the software engineer must also use the right web framework, databases, web server and operating system so the app responds to user requests to access the database and so that it can execute CRUD (create, read, update and delete) operations. Between these two ends is middleware that acts as a translation layer to connect the two sides. Choosing the right technologies for the tech stack is essential, as the wrong ones can result in a loss of money, time and other resources.


Software engineers are also involved in testing the apps before they are released. To do this, they look at basic functionality to ensure all the buttons and features act as they should. They also analyze the code, checking for any issues, such as security vulnerabilities. Every detail needs to be tested with unit testing, where the smallest parts of an operation are tested for their functionality and single user performance testing checks for bottlenecks or anything that might be slowing the performance of the app. Sometimes these tests are carried out by the software engineers who developed the app, but sometimes peer review can be done where another software engineer provides a fresh pair of eyes.


Even once an app is released, the importance of the software engineer continues as they are involved in bug fixes, feature enhancements and performance optimization to modify and update the app so that it continues to provide an effective and satisfying user experience.

Being a software engineer 

Software engineering is a varied profession and will attract those who are both creative and good at problem solving, who enjoy technology and project-based work. People who are drawn to this profession can look into training opportunities and gain the right qualifications to start in this exciting, high-tech profession.

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