Embedded Software Development
Embedded Software Developers: Desired Skills And Main Challenges To Face
Nowadays, embedded devices are part of our everyday lives, and embedded software development has an enormous impact on various domains, such as Consumer Electronics, MedTech, Automotive, Logistics, Smart Home, Audio/Video, and many others. We asked Grzegorz and Filip – embedded software developers in Sigma IT what are the main challenges in embedded development projects, what „soft” skills are essential in this job, and why they enjoy what they do.
IT’S ALL ABOUT THE EFFECTS OF SOFTWARE AND HARDWARE WORKING TOGETHER
The omnipresence of embedded systems in almost every area is constantly increasing the market demand for high-skilled, experienced embedded software developers who now more than ever has the opportunity to contribute their impact through the development of novel technologies.
Working in embedded projects often means working among devices and cables; some might wonder what is so fascinating about it. Our developers who work on embedded solutions say that they enjoy the feeling they write code that makes hardware devices run with the full potential for the benefit of the users. Embedded requires solving complex problems, making this job interesting, challenging, and requiring constant development.
Why do you enjoy embedded programming? What makes it unique for you?
Grzegorz Słuja, Embedded software developer
– I am an embedded software programmer and I will probably be working in this area all my life because I like changing SW, flashing it to the device, and seeing effects. In applications, web-pages or other areas developer does not have physical contact with the hardware responsible for doing things for him.“
Filip Matusiak, Embedded software developer
– Embedded software development is rarely boring as you have to solve new problems almost all the time. Wherever you go, there’s always something you can add or improve, and people do this all the time. With these small step improvements over time the products usually become very stable and a real joy to use. And these improvements are being done by many people worldwide: a real democracy (or anarchy) at its best. This is especially true if you work with embedded Linux-based products.
Once you catch the ‘basics’ of the embedded programming principles (such as clarity of code, getting memory allocation and clearance right, working with registers, using sockets, timers, and other mechanisms provided by the system) the development process quickly becomes a real joy.
IT’S NOT A ROLE FOR INTROVERTS. MAIN CHALLENGES FOR EMBEDDED SOFTWARE DEVELOPERS
Embedded software development has always been challenging. Mainly because it requires the ability to write software while considering limited hardware resources. Apart from the hardware limitations, other challenges that embedded development teams might face are related to the project issues:
- often lack detailed documentation
- often lack existing patterns to follow
- communication challenges resulted from the engagement of many individual entities in building the final product.
What are the main challenges for embedded software developers?
– The most challenging in embedded software programming is writing code (fixing bugs, implementing new features), and consideringthe hardware limitations. You could write anything in applications and you don’t need to care about memmory etc. In embedded, you should always keepin mind that device’s physical memory.is limited, andy and your code requires the necessary optimizations for successful product implementation.
– One of the challenges for embedded software developer is there’s-quite often a lack of detailed documentation for new embedded platforms where the product is being deployed. It implies a need of good hands-on skills to figure things out. In embedded development a lot of practical problems may arise often requiring non-standard approach:, some call it ‘hacking’.Besides, there’s rarely a pattern to follow. Therefore one must be really resourceful at all times. Moreover the final product often consists of elements produced by many individual entities (companies, developers, etc.).One must feel comfortable discussing with various people responsible for various parts of the system in order to get the things done properly. This means you always continue learning and communicating with other people – so this is rather not a job for total introverts.
WHAT MAKES A GOOD EMBEDDED SOFTWARE DEVELOPER?
Embedded system development is a challenging job and is often considered more demanding than standard business application development. It requires developers to have excellent programming skills and solid hardware architecture knowledge, knowledge of processors, connectivity options, and platforms. Embedded engineers have a broad range of experience in specific technologies and products. But apart from excellent programming skills and solid hardware architecture knowledge, the soft skills are of great importance, such as:
– an accuracy
– willingness to experiment
– analytical skills
– being a problem solver
– good and effective communication skills.
What are the top skills that you think are the most important/crucial to being a good embedded developer?
– Analytical mind, good programming practice, accuracy, perceptiveness, enjoy what you do.
– Hands on experience with HW (microprocessors, microcontrollers and other electronics) and measurement equipment.
– Understanding of (embedded) Linux kernel and device tree (or understanding of any other embedded OS) in order to be able to ‘hack’ the things for quick POC experiments, etc.
– Good C and bash/shell programming skills.
– Willingness to experiment when there’s no documentation on particular features of the platforms./ Orderly and logical thinking while being comfortable of working in a little bit ‘messy’ environments.
About R&D Competence Center
Designing, building, and testing embedded solutions is the core of SIGMA IT Poland R&D services. We built the R&D Competence Center in response to our clients’ needs who faced challenges related to tech talent shortage and recruitment in these niche competencies. Our teams of embedded software developers are engaged in various projects, whenever there is a need to create a software solution that controls, modifies, and manages the hardware and devices. Learn more