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Characteristics of Good Software Developers

Software development (or computer programming) is much like solving the Rubik’s Cube. I’ll explain what I mean.

Boy with rubik’s cube

There are two types of “Rubik’s Cubist”. The first type prefers to find out from others how to solve it (using a standard set of moves), but then practises these moves until they can solve it without fail every time.

The second type takes up the challenge of solving the puzzle from scratch without help. This is obviously complicated and takes time and patience.

Software development is actually a combination of these two processes. The vast majority of programs require quite a lot of standard functions such as file handling functions. The developer needs to know these, just like the first type of cubist needs to know the standard moves.

However, virtually every program has features that are unique to it and that need to be figured out carefully. An example of this would be the high-level structure, which is usually unique to each program. A good developer knows the standard tools and can use them appropriately, but can also solve tricky logic problems that are unique to the program he or she is developing.

Some cubists of the first type have taken things to extremes and solve the cube in just a few seconds, the current world record being 4.9 seconds.

Similarly, the best developers are always keen to do things in the quickest and most efficient way. Interestingly, when speed cubists solve the cube, they study it for perhaps 20 or 30 seconds before starting. In the same way, good developers know that plenty of preparation, in the form of design work, is required before diving into coding.

Finally, the cubist works independently of others, but the best software developers are good at collaborating with other people who are involved with the project as a whole, such as marketing experts, management and sometimes customers and other developers.

So in summary, my characteristics of good software developers are:

  • A good knowledge of their language, including the standard building blocks they will use
  • An ability to solve tricky logic issues
  • A desire to work quickly and efficiently
  • An ability to collaborate effectively with other professionals who are involved in the project

Whilst we can assist with Rubik’s Cube problems, it could be much more useful to you that we are highly skilled LabVIEW programmers, with extensive skills and experience in projects of all sizes. If you’re in need of a LabVIEW solution, contact us on +44 7979 187323 to find out more.

Remotely Programmed Distance Learning System

The School of Computing and Intelligent Systems at the University of Ulster (Magee Campus, Londonderry) have set up a state-of-the-art distance learning laboratory called DIESEL (Distant Internet-Based Embedded Systems Experimental Laboratory).  Funded by the EPSRC, this high-profile project allows students to perform real experiments over the Internet from anywhere in the world. Continue reading

Security and Passwords with LabVIEW

Security Levels

Many of our customers require password-protection on certain parts of their programs. Below is an example of a log-in screen from a recent program. There can be any number of “security levels” (although it is common to have “operator”, “engineer” and “administrator”) and passwords may be assigned for each user or for each level. If left in a high level inadvertently, the software can be made to drop down to the lowest level after a period of inactivity. Continue reading

Medical Imaging Magnet Monitoring & Data Logging Software

Our LabVIEW programmers have supplied a monitoring and data logging program to Magnex Scientific Ltd (Yarnton, Oxfordshire) for their new range of horizontal bore superconducting nuclear magnetic resonance magnets.

These systems are cooled by 2 closed-cycle coolers.  A drop in cooling efficiency, for whatever reason, can cause increased loss of Helium which will eventually cause the magnet to warm up to the point where it loses its superconducting characteristic and becomes “resistive”. Continue reading

Power Supply End-of-Line Testing

Sanken Power Systems (Abercynon, South Wales) had been using LabVIEW along with data acquisition hardware from National Instruments for several years for the end-of-line testing of their power supplies.  Each power supply required a separate LabVIEW program.  Discussions between Sanken and a LiveWires LabVIEW expert, however, led to the idea of producing a single flexible modular program capable of meeting all Sanken’s needs for the foreseeable future.  We decided to store test conditions, pass/fail criteria and the sequence of test steps in Excel files, one for each model of power supply.  Results are similarly stored in Excel.  These files have been designed to be easy to configure and read, and are easily expandable as and when new test steps are added in the future. Continue reading

3D Profile Measurements

An aluminium rolling company needed a quick and effective way of displaying thickness profiles from one of their aluminium coil rolling mills.  The data is collected by an existing scanning system and downloaded to an Access database.  Then a data visualisation program written by LiveWires reads the Access database and enables engineers to select a coil and display the thickness data instantly on a 3D graph.  The axis ranges can be set in another screen, and the viewing angle and distance can be easily adjusted with the mouse.  Averaged data is simultaneously plotted on a 2D graph. Continue reading