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How to become an IoT app developer

Why be an IoT app developer?

IoT app developers will be in high demand if the estimates for the number of devices connected through the “internet of things” comes close to reality. Enterprises could see huge rewards from employing a developer with expertise in IoT, finding hidden value in the devices around them. The best part? IoT solutions, in theory, should make up only a small portion of an enterprise’s costs, but could potentially result in significant increases in efficiency.

Gaining the knowledge

Like any other app development, knowing how to code is essential. The languages in demand for IoT app development include C, JavaScript and PHP, according to Michael Rasalan, a director at California-based developer research company Evans Data. However, Stijn Schuermans, senior business analyst at VisionMobile, said his company sees high demand for Java, Android, CSS and JavaScript skills. Schuermans said C, C++, C# and Objective C aren’t in as high demand.

These are the 11 languages that are worth knowing for IoT purposes, according to Information Week:

C, C++, Java, JavaScript, Python, Go, Rust, Parasail, B#, Assembler and Forth.

There are a number of different avenues to take to learn how to code. From free software classes like CodeAcademy to YouTube lessons or online classes – depending on how much you want to spend and how involved you would like your education to be. Of course, there is the not-as-affordable option of jumping into a computer science or software engineering college program to establish a solid foundation.

Whichever path chosen, coders appear set to come out better off on the other side. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, software developers made an average annual salary of $100,690 in 2015.

Practicing with prototypes

Once confident with coding skills, it is time to start thinking of what solutions to code for. This is, of course, the most important part of the process and will probably require a lot of research. Here are some areas to look into:

  • Big data
  • Security
  • Smart home products
  • Energy
  • Health care
  • Buildings
  • Smart Cities
  • Transportation
  • Smart factories
  • Security

Once an idea has formed, or if a newly minted app developer just feels like tinkering, they can begin to practice. One way to do so is by spending a few dollars on a single-board computer like Arduino or Raspberry Pi, which provides a low-cost platform for developers to experiment with, and is particularly useful for IoT applications. Its primary operating system is Raspbian, but is compatible with a number of others, including Windows 10 IoT Core and Ubuntu.

app developer

The $35 “mini-computer” isn’t just a good learning tool, but also is seen as a viable piece of equipment for deploying specific IoT solutions. Even with a flexible platform like Raspberry Pi, IoT development is still in its infancy.

“For a time, working on Raspberry Pi may have become the de facto emblem of IoT development, but I’d argue that the future IoT applications are yet to be imagined, and hence the future diversity of the IoT developer community is also yet to emerge,” noted Alok Batra, CEO of Atomiton, in a post on LinkedIn.

A little help never hurts

Things only get easier once there has been some practice turning the learned coding skills into a practical application with a single-board computer. There are currently a number of different IoT software platforms designed to help turn vision into reality. Companies like Xively, Thingworx, buglabs, Carriots and SeeControl provide infrastructure to IoT applications. Each of these platforms offers different levels of control, but they all help enroll “things,” and manage the massive amounts of data they collect.

Unlike becoming an expert in most other practices, becoming an IoT app developer involves three main steps: education, practice and a little help. Following those steps could lead to limitless creations.

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