Generally it's best to use the least privileged user that can get the job done. Also, it's inevitable that you have to use the root account some time (even using
sudo, which Ubuntu embraces, still counts as using root privileges).
There is no "you shouldn't use root", just "you shouldn't use root for normal tasks". For software development you should definitely create a user account for your own and use that for everyday tasks. Set yourself up as a sudoer, and disable the root password if you like. You probably have to use root access to set up your development environment, so be prepared to go
sudo apt-get install thingy.
Final words, use root when you have to, but don't feel bad about it. It actually feels quite good :)