Technology remains the fastest-growing sector of the UK economy, and the pressure to ensure that the next generation of workers have the necessary skills to carry them through their careers is intense.
The forthcoming launch of the BBC Micro Bit, a pocket-sized computer featuring a programmable array of LED lights, is the latest in a series of innovations aimed at encouraging children to learn coding from an early age. With software fast becoming a critical layer in modern life, those who fail to understand the language of computers could find themselves at a major disadvantage.
Learning to code isn’t just about being able to work as a software engineer, it’s also about learning about new ways to think and solve problem, combining mathematics, algorithms and logic in a way that can provide new insights into a wide variety of disciplines.
Of course, some of those who learn to code will go on to create their own apps, many of which may end up on the commercial market. As their projects become more sophisticated, so the need to monitor and debug the programs they create becomes increasingly important. While working out the bugs on a small program is something individuals can usually do themselves, doing so for a larger program means hiring outside help in the form of a company like Bugfinders who specialise in software testing and makes use of a huge network of testers to speed up the debugging process.
Utilising professional software testing services can help to avoid the kind of costly, damaging or just plain embarrassing bugs that have occurred throughout history such as the 1998 crash of the multi-million dollar Mars Climate Orbiter which disintegrated in space when its computer software began calculating in the wrong units, or the launch of Apple Maps where major geographical features such as lakes, bridges and train stations were either labelled incorrectly or missing altogether.
Although some schools of thought suggest that developers are best placed to test the software they create, the opposite is usually true. Not only do developers usually lack the time and the focus to carry out extensive testing, they also lack access to a wide enough range of devices to ensure that the software functions correctly for all users.