Computer programs have become a pivotal part of everyday tasks. Creating software is following a set of actions or steps correctly. Software development is the process used by programmers to create programs that help make specific tasks more manageable. Several phases are included to make the software meet user needs and technical specifications. These phases are called software development life cycle (SDLC), and software development companies follow this process to standardize the development process. This article will explain all the software development factors, including their types, history, problems, process, tools, etc.
History of Software Development
Before beginning to understand software development, it is essential to know its brief history. Every software requires an operating system to run, as each OS comes with unique features and functionalities supported by the software. This section will briefly explain the history of operating systems and programming languages used in the process.
- Operating systems: Operating systems act as a link to communicate and control different computer hardware. Hardware without an operating system will perform only limited tasks without synchronization between other hardware. Before developing operating systems, hardware needs to have the correct specification to perform correctly. As the need for computers increased, the complexity of using hardware increased. GM-NAA I/O by General Motors was the first operating system used professionally. Initially, every manufacturer would create their OS for their products. IBM was the name that focused on creating operating systems where created OS/360, PCP, MFT, MVT, and DOS/360 for large systems, mid-range systems, and small systems. Since then, there have been many operating systems for each manufacturer and their products. Computer systems, video game consoles, and mobile phones had several different operating systems. With the rising development in this area, only three operating systems remained highly used in personal computers; Windows, Linux, and macOS. With only three major operating systems in the industry, software development’s primary focus has remained to create a program supported by any of these platforms, depending on the target audience.
Branches of Software Development
Software is an inclusive term divided into several other areas or branches. As there are numerous types of devices and each having its operating system and software type, there are several branches of software development that should be explained for a clear understanding. Software development has six different branches, which are explained below.
#1: Software Engineering –
Software engineering is developing software by using the correct practices, methods, and principles that have been developed with experience. Almost every software made through software engineering is highly effective, efficient, and reliable at its job. Software engineering occurs not to create a need but to cater the organizational needs. In other words, software engineering uses a systematic and disciplined approach to developing and maintaining software.
Software engineering is not just about working on the software; the engineers work with several components of the hardware system. Furthermore, software engineering is a team activity, and there is minimal possibility of an engineer working solely on a project. The basics of software engineering are that it commences only after the detailed idea of what the software will be and what needs it will cater to is determined. Every action is taken cautiously in software engineering; it is highly secure and keeps the data safeguarded. Due to this reason, several organizations make software engineering part of their software development process.
#2: Computer Programming –
A source code is necessary to build such programs. Computer programmers write the source code; the source code is the assortment of code written in a specific programming language that other programmers can use. Furthermore, this source code should undergo a process called compiling. This code is converted into a language understood by machines to execute the actions and understand all the instructions specified in the code. However, there are some languages that do not require compilation. Instead, they use an interpreter which will read and execute the code for the machine.
#3: Video Game Development –
With the rising trend of EAsports and the gaming industry, it is crucial to know about video game development. Video games are also a type of software that follows a certain code and reacts as per the input given by the user. Development of video games includes designing, developing, and releasing the game for the users. Game developers conceptualize the entire game, generate the code, design the code, test it, and the final release takes place if everything goes well.
Video game development may sound similar to regular software development, but the psychology is entirely distinctive. Rather than software built to fulfill specific needs, video games are created solely with the motive of entertainment and fun. The developer must consider the game mechanics, in-game story, difficulty levels, and rewards. There is no professional need for a game; it must be highly engaging to keep the users hooked. A game developer can either be a single individual or a major enterprise. Games with their unique universe and engine take several years or even more than a decade to complete.
Unlike past years where larger games were just limited to PCs or consoles, the mobile gaming industry has also been on the rise. Currently, PC, console, and mobile games are developed constantly to cater to the ever-growing audience. Developers can also use game engines like Unreal, Game Maker, and CryEngine that make the overall development process uncomplicated.
#4: Web Development –
Web development is the process of creating websites for the internet. Web designing, programming, publishing, and database management are part of the web development process. There are several different types of websites like blogs, personal, and e-commerce websites, where each has a unique style and features that set them apart. Web development is often classified into two aspects; frontend and backend.
- #2: Backend Development –As the name suggests, the Backend is the part where the users are not involved or where they do not interact directly. Backend development is more about the technicalities of web development and is only meant for admins. Backend developers create a code to establish communication between the database and the website. PHP, a server-side scripting language, is used to design the website. Furthermore, Java and Python make the website scalable and integrate systems to the site effectively.
#5: Web Application Development –
#6: Mobile Application Development –
Over 5 billion smartphone users make the mobile application industry among the most prominent industries. Mobile applications development has its roots in software development, but minor differences exist. Every mobile application is made specifically for mobile devices, and features are made to support both hardware and software of the smartphone. From adding filters to the photos to using augmented reality for gaming or architecture, this is all possible through a smartphone because of the mobile applications created for it. Mobile applications face the same issue, much like computer software requiring minimum hardware requirements to reach optimum performance. However, the difference lies in their scale.
While building a mobile application, the mobile developer has to keep the application in mind. Even though several mobile app types, the two most renowned are native and cross-platform applications. Native applications are made specifically for a desired operating system or platform (iOS and Android), whereas cross-platform applications are made for Android and iOS.
Professionals Involved in Software Development
Software development is a comprehensive term, making it difficult for a single individual to master all the practices. Different professionals are involved in different parts of the development stage and type. Below explained are the different participants of the software development process and their primary contributions to the process.
#1: Software Developer –
Software developers are the ones behind the creative work for a program. Many people believe that software developers have to write just the code. Undeniably, writing the code is part of their primary jobs, but that is not the only task they are responsible for. They are the ones who will determine the behavior of the software, how it will respond to the inputs given by the user, the features that will make the software better than others, creating a roadmap of how the entire process will take place, and understanding and solving the technical problems along the way.
#2: Software Engineer –
Though a software engineer may sound similar to software development, several distinctive features exist between the two. A software engineer uses an engineering approach to develop software. They apply engineering principles for designing, maintaining, testing, and developing the software. A software engineer is trained to learn the correct programming language, architecture, and platform that make the software effective, efficient, and reliable.
Their responsibilities include writing the code, optimizing the software, designing and maintaining the software, collaborating with other engineers, specialists, and clients, and testing the code. To accomplish these tasks, every software engineer needs specialized skills, including proficiency with coding languages, an in-depth understanding of database architecture, cloud computing, operating systems, version control, and object-oriented programming.
#3: Consulting Software Engineer –
A consulting software engineer is a highly experienced and senior developer who enterprises mainly hire for their advice. From strategizing the development process to designing the software, consulting software engineers collaborate with software developers to develop a program. In most cases, the software will solve a business problem or cater to a specific need. However, it varies with the business goal of the organization. Unlike developers, their primary task is to provide the proper guidance for taking the correct business decision regarding software development projects.
#4: Computer Programmer –
A computer programmer may also be called a programmer or a coder as they are responsible for one of the most crucial tasks of software development; coding. Programmers are the ones who write the entire code depending on the requirements either given by the developers or through their research. Sometimes their roles and responsibilities include understanding the client’s requirements, designing the program, testing it, and using the best industry practices while writing the code to ensure that the built software is secure and reliable. To make coding efficient, they collaborate with other coders and designers and understand the most effective ways of reaching the goals. Even after all these tasks, their foremost responsibility will always remain coding. Almost every computer programmer is skillful in numerous programming languages, including C, C++, Java, Golang, Rust, Scala, etc.
#5: Software Publisher –
Software developed for the masses should reach the masses at the right time. Launching or releasing the software in the market is also called publishing. Sometimes, small organizations may create extensively usable software, but they lack the skillset or sources to release it efficiently. This is the part where a software publisher comes into play. A software publisher is mainly a company that releases software in the industry. Publishers will license the software and aid the developers in reaching the desired target audience.
The primary duties of a software publisher are providing technical support to the product, marketing the software, creating demand for the program, translating software elements into a local language depending on the release area, and promoting the software locally. Sometimes a publisher can also develop software.
#6: Web Developer –
A web developer will create websites and add all the elements to a site, visual or functional elements. Their responsibility is to ensure that the website is easily accessible, easy to navigate, and performs excellently. Their core roles are designing the website’s user interface, adding media, writing the code for the website, testing, diagnosing any underlying issue with the website, and teaming up with other web developers and designers for effective web development. Web developers are of three types; backend, frontend, and full-stack. Backend developers are responsible for writing the code, creating the entire structure, and testing the website. Front-end developers take care of the website’s visual elements and physical layout. A full-stack developer possesses the skills of both the aforementioned web developers and can build an entire website on their own.
Problems in Software Development
Software development is a lengthy process, and depending on its complexity and the features it provides, it may take several weeks, months, or even years. Even though the entire process is thoroughly planned, the probability of facing hurdles or challenges still exists. Some issues can be ignored, but a few problems should be tackled initially to avoid tricky situations in the future. Here are the major problems faced in the software development process.
#1: Shovelware –
One of the most significant issues with the software currently is shovelware. Every user wants to use finished software. Shovelware is used for all such software programs released for the users but are incomplete or quickly developed with several quality issues. Sometimes, the software can be forced on the customer, also considered shovelware. The primary reason for shovelware is the developers’ lack of time and effort in building the software. Apart from that, pressure to release the software early can also be the reason behind the same. There are stances when smartphones and computers come with software pre-installed. Some may be removed from the system, but users may not uninstall some software from their device. Whether it can be removed or not, it is still forced on the user and falls under the category of shovelware.
#2: Software Bloat –
Many developers want to add every feature possible to a single software. Though this idea may seem excellent as a developer, the software is made by keeping users in mind. However, as the number of features increases, the requirement for better hardware increases. Software bloat or bloatware is software that comes with several unnecessary features that consume a lot of RAM and memory. Not only are such features not useful for the user, but they also slow down the performance of the software, hampering the user experience.
Bloatware may exist in a newly launched software or come with a newer program version. The software may become slower with the new version and require more memory and better hardware specifications. Still, the new additions bring minimal change to the system, forcing users to upgrade their physical systems to get the most out of the software. Program bloat and library bloat are the two types of software bloat. Whenever there is unnecessary lengthy code that makes the system slow is program bloat. Sometimes, libraries are used in the build script but are no longer required in the software execution. These libraries can remain in the project for a long time, causing bloatware in the program. This unnecessary library can make the program slower and increase maintenance efforts.
#3: Software Bugs –
A software bug is an issue in the software that reduces its effectiveness, causes it to crash, or makes it unstable. Bugs in software are mainly caused due to errors in source code or insufficient logic. These can be in the form of defects, errors, faults, or mistakes that may provide unsatisfactory results from the program. No matter the bug type, it is mainly caused due to human errors. Before the software launch, the desired team will run several tests on it to diagnose any bugs. If any bugs are found, they are fixed as soon as possible to ensure that the program is stable.
Lack of testing and rushing the program’s release can be the leading reasons why bugs may be overseen before the release. Fixing the bug depends on its severity and how it impacts the user experience and its core functionalities. If the bug is causing the app to crash or make it unusable, it should be fixed as soon as possible. However, if it is not hampering the overall user experience or not troubling the masses, many developers tend to leave the code as it is to save their time.
Software Project Management
It cannot succeed without proper management, be it a regular task or software development. Software project management is a methodology to plan and lead software projects to reduce failures and boost success rates. Failure of software can be due to numerous reasons like lack of user involvement, below-par risk management, inaccuracy in analyzing estimates, unrealistic project goals, and poor development practices. Software project management includes some of the best practices like improving interpersonal communication, conflict resolution, change management, risk management, release management, project planning, monitoring, and execution.
However, one of the most significant practices is software configuration management, which tracks and controls every change in the program. It also includes baseline establishment and revision control. Software configuration management allows the developer to identify the changes made to the program and who made them. One of the reasons this method is popular in software project management is its ability to be replicated. If the set configuration is suitable, the developer can replicate it on other hosts.
Software Development Strategies:
Offshore Software R&D: When it comes to the most widely used software development strategy, offshore software R&D is the one to hold this title. Presently, the global software industry is spreading rapidly. India, China, and Israel are the leaders in software development, and other nations can use the services from these or any other country. Offshore software R&D is the way of getting software development services from a developer located in a different nation from where the software will be used. This software development strategy is excellent for all those nations where software development service is not efficient or is highly expensive. Getting offshore software R&D will be cost-effective and provide software development services from the top nations.
Software Development Process:
To develop software, a proper process is created and followed. The development process can be divided into smaller and sequential steps to ensure smoothness and improvement in design and management. Every aspect is covered in the process, from planning and release to maintenance. Though every developer follows their unique process, the structure remains the same. This section will elaborate on the software development process in detail.
#1: Software Release Life Cycle –
All the stages of software development summed up are called a software release life cycle. Everything is included in the cycle, commencing from the initial development to the final release and maintenance. Below explained are the different parts of the software release life cycle.
- Stages of Development:
All the activities are done in the development process before actual testing fall under the pre-alpha category. Software design, development, analysis, and unit testing are all part of the pre-alpha phase of the software release life cycle. Numerous pre-alpha version types exist in an open-source development environment.
Alpha is the first phase of software testing where developers use white-box techniques to carry out their testing. The developers may also use the gray-box or white-box testing technique to ensure that the software is tested correctly. Once the team does the testing, this software will be called Alpha software. Even though it has been tested, the alpha software is still far from the final release. Alpha software may contain issues that can make the program unstable for the users.
- Feature Complete:
In most cases, every alpha phase will conclude with the software being declared as a feature freeze. In this situation, no new feature addition will take place in the software. Apart from that, feature-complete software is when all the features planned initially are added to the software but are not made final due to existing issues or bugs. Even after the software is declared feature-complete, it still has to undergo beta testing.
- Beta Test:
Beta is the second phase of software development and begins when the software is feature-complete. As underlying bugs or issues are probable in a feature-complete program, beta testing is done to eradicate and fix many issues. Unlike the Alpha phase, where the testing is done within the organization, users outside of the organization will test the software. However, the testing is done by only a limited number of people to identify bugs in the program without hampering the experience of the masses. Depending on the availability, beta releases can either be public or private. Every beta tester will use the software like a reviewer or a user and report any issue they face while using it to the organization. In most cases, beta testers volunteer themselves for testing and charge nothing. However, it varies with the beta release and the software type.
- Open and Closed Beta:
Beta testing is either open beta or closed beta, where open beta will be available for legions of people, and they are free to join the testing program. On the other hand, closed beta is only made for a limited number of people the organization invites. It all depends on whether the software organization wants to release an open or closed beta of a program.
- Release Candidate:
A beta version that can become a stable release if there are no major bugs or issues found is a release candidate. This beta version can be a crucial candidate for final release without any major code addition. When the product is in the release candidate stage, every product feature is planned, designed, coded, and tested in multiple beta cycles. The release candidate will be considered code complete when the team gives the nod to the existing code, eradicating the possibility of adding new code to the software. However, code complete software does not hinder the developers from improving the code by fixing vulnerabilities.
As the name suggests, a stable release is the software’s final release candidate, which is ready for its final release. This version of the software has cleared all the tests by different teams, and all the bugs are also fixed. Any remaining issues in the software are considered insignificant and can be accepted by the users. Once all the approvals are attained, the stable release of the software will be moved to production.
- Release to Manufacturing: Any software version sent to hardware manufacturers for bundling it into their future hardware version is Release to Manufacturing. Often, the RTM program is provided to the manufacturers before the general public so that the final release can be coordinated. In addition, this action allows the software organization and the manufacturers to diagnose any other issue or bug in the system. Even though RTM is a final release for the hardware manufacturer, it necessarily does not imply that the same version will be released for the masses.
- General Availability: General availability is the release phase when the software is released to the general public. Mainly, it is a marketing stage in the process where the desired team has completed all commercial activities. Activities including regulatory tests, localization as per the region, and worldwide availability of the software, among others, exist in this phase. The time gap between Release to Manufacturing and General Availability can be a few weeks to several months, depending on the software and the company.
- Release to Web: Web release or release to the web is when the software organization produces no physical media for software distribution. Instead, the internet is used for this purpose.
- Support: Software developers and distributors often release patches or new updates called interim or maintenance releases which either add new features, bug fixes, or both. Currently, the biggest example of support for the software is multiplayer games which are updated frequently to keep them engaging and feature-rich. Antiviruses are another excellent example of developers giving extended support to the software. Mostly, these support updates are free but can be paid, depending on the software and the update type.
- End-of-Life:When there is a newer version of the software that replaces the previous one completely, the software organization decides to put an end to the older version of their software. Any software whose support is ended by its parent organization officially is considered its end of life. Even though the software may not get any new features or updates from its developer, it does not mean that the software becomes unusable from the date it is declared discontinued or retired. The software will continue to remain functional until users want to use it. However, any existing bugs or vulnerabilities will never be fixed by the developer.
Activities and Steps in the Software Development Process
The aforementioned was all about the software release life cycle and explained how a developed software travels towards its release. However, there are several activities and steps that the development team has to make to accomplish their software goals.
- Requirement Analysis:Requirement analysis is one of the most crucial actions in a software development process. It is the part where the development team studies the project’s needs and understands the requirements of different stakeholders. Without a doubt, requirement analysis is a lengthy and tiresome process, but it is equally essential for the development process. The three primary activities involved in this action are eliciting requirements, analyzing requirements, and recording requirements. Depending on the software, the right requirement is picked among business, customer, functional, architectural, performance, non-functional, behavioural, structural, allocated, derived, and design requirements. As there are numerous requirement types, the issues that come with this task are numerous. The primary one is stakeholder issues where problems like lack of clarity among users regarding what they want, technically unsophisticated users, poor communication between users, and a lack of knowledge on the latest technology by the users. Apart from that, several developer issues also exist in requirement analysis.
- Software Development Effort Estimation: Before the actual development of the software begins, the team has to analyze different aspects. Software development effort estimation plays a significant role in requirement analysis. It is a process where the experts predict the most effort necessary for the development and maintenance of the software. They try to predict estimates as close to the actual time required. These efforts can be used for further planning like budget, investment, pricing, and project plans.
- Functional Specification: The functional specification is a document that defines all the functions of a software system. Every function mentioned in this document should be added to the final software, and it should showcase the user’s requirements. This document is the next part of the requirement analysis. The functional specification is crucial because it allows the developers to determine what they should build in the software, lets the stakeholders know the features of the software, and provides testers with the desired information on the tests they need to perform.
- Software Architecture:Building software is like erecting a highrise which requires a robust structure. This fundamental structure is called software architecture in software development, which includes all the software relations, properties, and elements. Often experts consider it a blueprint of the program as it covers all the aspects and tasks essential for the development. Experts understand that making a structural change in software is not just tedious but is proven to be hefty. Creating a software architecture helps the development team make the right choices, saving a significant amount of development cost for the company. Having software architecture boosts communication between the team and ensures that the design components of the project are aligned. Moreover, it motivates the team to make early design decisions that influence the system’s overall deployment, development, and maintenance.
- Software Design: No matter what the task is, optimum planning is essential to make the idea succeed. In software development, creating an outline of a software artifact to meet the set goals of the software is considered a software design. In other words, it is the process of planning a software solution to eradicate all the challenges and problems that can arise during the development process. Activities like framing, creating concepts, implementing, commissioning, and altering the systems to stay in line with the requirement specifications are part of this software design. Software requirement analysis is a significant part of software design that elaborates the software engineering specifications. Sometimes, people may believe that software design and analysis are the same concepts. However, software analysis is only limited to minor problems in the process. On the other hand, software design is more oriented towards software capabilities, leading to several designs for solving a single problem. Not to forget that a software design is a model as well as a process that allows the developer to elaborate on different characteristics of the program.
- Computer Programming: Computer programming is a crucial element of the software development process. It is the process where programming languages are used for computing and accomplishing tasks including algorithm generation, analysis, profiling algorithms, and implementing the algorithms. Picking the computer programming language depends on the developer’s preference, and multiple languages can also be used to write the source code. Through computer programming, the machine is guided to perform a particular task with the given output. Testing, maintaining source code, implementing a build system, and debugging are tasks related to computer programming. Sometimes people refer to computer programming as software development, but programming is just a part of the development process. Programming is all about writing and implementing the code.
- Software Testing: Imagine installing software with a unique feature, and when you begin using it, all you can see is a black screen or unresponsive software. The reason why such scenarios happen is due to a lack of testing. Software testing is the process of analyzing the behaviour of the software under different situations and circumstances. Tester’s goal is to eradicate as many bugs and issues from the software as possible and make it stable. Different testing techniques and types have been developed in the past years to make testing highly effective. Installation testing, compatibility testing, regression testing, smoke, and sanity testing, functioning testing, continuous testing, beta testing, and alpha testing are some of the testing types. Not just the performance but the security of the software is also tested during this phase. Testers tend to follow the dedicated process as well as its hierarchy.
- Software Deployment: After the software is developed and tested rigorously, it is time to make it available to the general public. Deploying the software follows a chain of interrelated activities, and this process is referred to as software deployment. As every software is unique, the deployment of two software is never the same. However, the minor differences between the processes and developers follow a general process and customize it to fit their software needs. Here are the general activities followed in the deployment process.
- Release:The release activity is the actions performed to prepare the movement of the developed software to the computers in which it will run. The release process begins just after its development completes and is often the first step toward the software deployment. It can also include creating a plan for the deployment process in some cases.
- Installing the Software: Software installation can be done on simple as well as complex systems. Simple systems require implementing certain commands, scripts, and services that will execute the software on the system. However, the process in a complex system is entirely different. Installing the newly developed software in a system may require investigating the user about the features they want to use, the purpose of using, any preferences regarding the software, and any specific configuration. After software installation, the next step is activating the software for the user to start using it. Activation of software can either be through the backend or by entering the activation key by the user.
- Uninstallation: Opposite of installation, the uninstallation of the software is done when the user no longer requires it. In some stances, uninstallation can be done to reconfigure the software system. When software is uninstalled, the system configurations and data saved by the software are also removed.
- Deactivation: As the name suggests, deactivation disables the application either temporarily or permanently. Depending on the reason for deactivation, the developer can also block certain software features only. Mostly, deactivation is done before a major upgrade is released on the server. The software can be deactivated permanently when the developers decide that there are insufficient users or their future software can replace the previous version. This deactivation reason is also called application retirement.
- Update: Software developers release newer versions of the software to keep it feature-rich and engaging for the users. When software is updated, it takes the place of the previous version of the same system. The typical updating process begins by deactivating the previous version and installing the newer version of the software. However, this process does not remove the software data or any configuration.
- Built-In Update: Many software comes with an install updates feature built-in. iOS, Linux, and Android are the three major operating systems that support this feature in their applications. Depending on the preferences set by the user, all such applications can be updated automatically or manually.
- Software Maintenance: Pushing frequent updates for bug fixes or to release new features to existing software is part of software maintenance. It is the process of altering the software post its release. Activities like eradicating unnecessary features, improving the performance, fixing errors, and optimizing the software are all part of software maintenance. Much like the software development process, the software maintenance process also needs in-depth planning. The plan includes the number of users who will get the update at once, features released in the upcoming update, budget, and geographical area where the update will be released.
Software Development Methodologies
#1: Aspect-Oriented Programming –
#2: Cleanroom Software Engineering –
Developed by Harlan Mills and his teammates, Cleanroom Software engineering is a software development process that focuses on creating reliable software. Unlike a general software development approach where the goal is to fix the problems after they are identified, here, the defect prevention approach is considered. Without a doubt, quality assurance is a significant part of a software development process, but it is performed after completing all the other phases. Rather than doing so, quality assurance is part of every phase in cleanroom software engineering. This model follows several principles and practices, which help assemble coding, testing, designing, etc. Even though the ultimate goal of this software development approach is to enhance software reliability and defect prevention, the overall process can also enhance productivity while reducing its development cost. The general cleanroom software engineering process includes management, specification, development, and certification steps. However, the process varies with the software requirements.
#3: Iterative and Incremental Development Model –
The iterative and incremental development model is made with two different concepts used collaboratively in a single software development process for an effective outcome. Incremental approach is all about breaking down the entire software development process into small bits and parts called an increment. These increments are built on the previous version of an increment where every change or improvement is made in steps. Doing so ensures that the parts are easily managed, and the development is made with minor errors.
In an iterative model, the software development actions are repeated systematically in cycles where a new software version is created after every iteration till the developer attains the desired results. The primary reason for using the iterative and incremental development model is to manage software development projects with utmost efficacy.
#4: Incremental Funding Methodology:
Every organization creates software to provide something to the users while generating sufficient return on their investment. The incremental funding methodology takes the return on investment approach for software development. Here the software is developed to prioritize customer valued functionality chunks called Minimum Marketable Features. This methodology considers several metrics, including initial costs, NPV, the time required by the software to attain self-funding status and return on investment.
With IFM, crucial parties like stakeholders, developers, and customers can answer significant software development questions that will help create the right strategies and deliver the most suitable software. In simpler terms, the incremental funding methodology uses several techniques and principles that will help the developers increase the overall financial returns of software development from its investment.
#5: Rapid Application Development –
The rapid application development model is about rapidly creating prototypes of the software and obtaining feedback from the customers quickly during the testing cycles. The software development project can be divided into several small modules assigned to different teams. Each team taking the RAD approach can work independently to get the feedback and make the necessary changes to the module accordingly. All these modules can be combined in the development process to build the software.
The RAD process includes four phases: requirement planning, user description, construction, and cutover. The process starts with creating a rapid prototype of the software and delivering it to the customer afterwards. The developers will then collect the feedback on the software, create an SRS document based on the validated feedback, and finalize the software design accordingly.
#6: Rational Unified Process –
Developed by Rational Software Corporation, Rational Unified Process is a software development framework that focuses on building reliable and high-quality software while predicting a time and budget. The process is divided into four different phases, where each phase includes all the six development disciplines. These disciplines are business modelling, requirement, analysis, design, implementation, testing, and deployment.
The phases of RUP are inception, elaboration, construction, and transition. Each phase has a primary objective or goal which should be completed before moving to the next phase of the process. This was a generic rational unified process, but several developers customized the same as the software requirements and their expertise. With the right implementation of this process in software development, the overall development cost and resource wastage can be minimized.
#7: Spiral Model –
One of the most significant models in software development, the Spiral model, is all about managing the risk during the development process. Undeniably, developing software comes with its risks, and the developers should try to minimize this risk by all means necessary. The spiral model helps developers handle risk by following a set approach during different phases of the process. The name spiral comes from its visual representation, which seems like a spiral with several loops. These loops are different phases of software development, and every process has a different number of loops depending on the project and the risks associated with it.
Each loop is divided into four different quadrants, which fulfil a different function. The first quadrant is called objects determination and identity alternative solutions’, which focuses on attaining the software’s requirements and objectives and creating alternative solutions for this phase. The second phase is called identifying and resolving risks, where all the different solutions are considered, and the most suitable option is picked.
Developing the next product version is the third quadrant among the four, which is about developing and verifying the identified features. The last quadrant is review and plan for the next phase, where the customers assess the current version of the software, and if everything goes well, the planning of the next phase is started.
#8: Waterfall Model –
Being the foundation of several software development models, the Waterfall model was among the most widely used models for essential software development. However, with rapid development in new models, the usage of Waterfall has declined rapidly. Nonetheless, it is highly simple and user-friendly. This model divides the development process into different phases where the next phase can only begin after completing the current phase.
In other words, the outcome of the current phase will determine the input of the next phase, making the entire development process sequential. A basic waterfall model consists of six different phases; Feasibility study, requirement analysis and specification, design, coding, unit testing, integration and system testing, and maintenance. Though this model covers all the major aspects of the software development process, the biggest drawback is the lack of a feedback path.
#9: Extreme Programming –
XP or Extreme Programming is one of the most crucial software development frameworks due to its ability to enhance the software quality and responsiveness. In this model, the developer picks and uses the best software development practices that have shown results in the past and pushes them to extreme levels for the utmost outcome. Practices like code review, simplicity, integration testing, design, and testing are part of extreme programming. Extreme programming is highly applied to software due to the dynamic software requirements of the customer.
#10: Lean Software Development –
Lean Software Development is a framework used by the developers to optimize software development by using the right practices effectively. With this framework, software developers can eradicate unwanted steps in the development process that will save time and make the process uncomplicated. Furthermore, it focuses on a minimum viable product that prioritizes crucial functions for the process, removing the risk of spending time on inconsequential factors.
The LSD is based on seven lean principles for efficient software development, and those principles are:
- Eliminating the waste
- Fast Delivery
- Amplify Learning
- Builds Quality
- Respect Teamwork
- Delay the Commitment
- Optimizing the Whole System
#11: Scrum –
Scrum software development methodology is highly effective for smaller teams where their software development work is divided into goals. These goals or temporary blocks are short and range from two weeks to a month and are called Sprints. Every scrum team will analyze the overall progress through a daily scrum or time-boxed meeting. Once a sprint completes, the team will organize two more meetings to review the work, attain feedback, and implement the changes based on the received feedback.
Implementing this methodology in software development is to develop, deliver and sustain products in a complicated environment. The Scrum lifecycle includes six different steps:
- Sprint Review.
- Sprint Retrospective.
- Product Backlog.
- Sprint Backlog.
#12: V-Model –
Also referred to as the Verification and Validation model, the V-model is based on the waterfall model of software development. The processes in this model are executed consecutively, with each development activity having a corresponding testing activity. Akin to the waterfall model, the next phase can only begin after completing the previous phase. Visually depicted in the V shape, the Verification phases lie on one side of the V, and validation phases lie on the corresponding side. Coding rests at the bottom, joining the two sides of the model. The design phase includes requirement analysis, system design, architectural design, and module design. On the other hand, the testing phases include unit testing, integration testing, system testing, and user acceptance testing.
#13: Test-Driven Development –
Test-Driven development is a software development or testing method where the test cases are created rather than the code, which will specify the functions of the code. The code is written and tested based on the test cases. If the code fails, a new code is created to pass the test. However, the new code is only written if the automated test fails, preventing code duplication. Performing a TDD is a five-step process that starts by Adding a test, running all the tests, writing the simplest code, running tests, and refactoring code. The entire process is repeated for every new code added in the development process. The ultimate goal of implementing this approach is to make the code bug-free and stable for the users.
Agile Software Development Methodology –
The agile software development methodology is among the most widely used practices by the developers, including identifying requirements and improving the solutions through the combined efforts of cross-functional and self-organizing teams. These teams use practices like continuous improvement, adaptive planning, early delivery, recognizing existing problems, and evolutionary development. Agile software development is all about using its unique practices that expand to planning, designing, modelling, quality, testing, coding, risk management, and many others. These agile practices are cross-functional team, pair programming, self-organization, timeboxing, extreme programming (XP), an iterative and incremental development. Among these, XP and iterative and incremental development are already explained above, and the rest are elaborated below:
#1: Cross-Functional Team –
Software development is not just about coding or software features. Expertise in numerous different areas is required to develop reliable and efficient software. A cross-functional team is a group of people with expertise in different areas, including operating, finance, marketing, and human resources, that work collaboratively to develop the software. Even though a cross-functional team includes people from different levels of the same organization, it varies with the project requirements.
As there is the involvement of several people with different expertise, differences in opinion during decision-making are always observed. To avoid this issue, every team has a manager or a team leader who will be the final decision-maker. The inputs are obtained from every team member, but the final decision will always be of the team leader.
#2: Pair Programming –
Pair programming is an agile development technique where two individuals, called driver and navigator, work on a single workstation. A driver is responsible for writing the code, whereas a navigator will review each code line for any potential error. Both individuals may switch roles depending on the project requirements or preferences. Pair programming has become extensively popular because of its ability to detect mistakes effectively. A single person may overlook some errors in the code. However, when two minds are working on the same code, they review it differently and may point out issues that the other may have overlooked.
In pair programming, three different pairing variations are used: Newbie-newbie, expert-newbie, and expert-expert. The first one is a rare practice but may happen in a few organizations. Here, two new professionals with minimal experience work together to develop software. The expert-newbie is the preferred method for several entities as the expert gets a helping hand, whereas the newbie can learn from the expert. The last one is preferred for utmost productivity as two experts work on a single workstation.
#3: Self-Organization –
Self-organization or a self-organizing team is the one that does not rely solely on its team leader or manager to assign them work. Instead, they keep on looking for work and handle the responsibilities independently. Not only that but they lookout for the most efficient way of accomplishing their goal and find out the ways of improvement. However, discipline and using the correct principles is the way to fulfil this goal, and those principles are:
- Regular Growth and Improvement.
#4: Timeboxing –
Timeboxing is the practice of setting a time limit for accomplishing a particular task. The teams implement cautious planning and estimation practices to minimize the risk of completing the activity. Teams practising timeboxing believe that instead of putting effort into a task until it is complete, it is efficient to determine a time limit and discontinue working on it after the limit is hit. Afterwards, the team will analyze the accomplished goals within the time limit.
Depending on the project and the team, the duration of a timebox may vary from a day to a few weeks. No matter what the outcome is, a crucial action by the team should be to stop their work after the time limit is reached and evaluate the outcome. The outcome can determine the effectiveness of the team and the areas where there is a scope for improvement.
Software Development Supporting Disciplines:
Software development is a perfect blend of different expertise for a common goal. However, certain disciplines are also there that the development team should master to get efficient results. Here are all the disciplines that support software development:
#1: Computer Programming
Computer programming provides the computer with a set of instructions on how the machine should respond to particular inputs given by the users. These instructions are written in a form of code by the programmers or coders and the language used in the process is called a programming language. There are several programming languages, and programmers try to learn as many as possible to expand their programming skills.
Writing the code is done on an IDE or a code editor. They write an assortment of code that other coders can also read and is called a source code. This code is then sent to a compiling process, where it is converted into a language that the computer or the machine can understand.
#2: Software Documentation
Documentation is an essential aspect of software development. It is a written text embedded in the software’s source code, which includes guidelines on how to use the software. However, the actual documentation content varies with the software and the user’s role. There are five types of documentation in software development; design, requirements, marketing, technical, and end-user. No matter the type, the purpose of software documentation is to act as a guide for the user.
#3: Software Engineering
Engineers are the ones who use specific techniques and the best practices to create or build something. The same applies to software engineering, which uses the same approach to develop or build software. The practices they use in the process have been developed by experts and are proven to provide the best results. A product created through software engineering is almost sure to deliver efficient and reliable software. Software engineers use specific tools to attain the desired outcome from software, not just the practices.
#4: Software Quality Assurance
Keeping an eye on the software development process and its phases to ensure that the process meets the set quality standards is called software quality assurance. The process includes all the phases and parts of the software development process like release management, software design, management, testing, source code control, and reviews, among others. The SQA happens after every phase of the development process to maintain the set quality.
Furthermore, it also covers compliance with the standards like SPICE, ISO 25010, or CMMI. Depending on the process, admins, developers, or managers can review the software and determine whether it meets the desired standards or not. Presently, SQA has become the standard method for ensuring that everything in the software development process is going as per the plans.
#5: User Experience Design
User Experience design is the process in software development that ensures that the software is user-friendly and gives the right experience to the users. User experience and user interface are often considered a synonym. Even though they are interrelated, UI is just a subset of UX. User experience design includes several areas like integrating a product, branding, features, and software usability.
There is no denying that the user interface plays a significant role in making navigation towards features easier for the user. However, the UX helps provide the best experience to the users while using the software. UX designers keep the user interface in mind and consider the efficiency and engagement of the software.
Software Development Tools:
Software developers use several developments or programming tools that help in creating, maintaining, debugging, and supporting the process. These tools may work collaboratively or individually to function as per the requirements of the software developer. The most frequently used development tools are the compiler, debugger, performance analyzer, graphical user interface builder, and integrated development environment.
#Tool 1: Compiler
Once a source code is written, the compiler will translate that code into another programming language understood by the machine. A compiler is also responsible for performing lexical analysis, preprocessing, code optimization, semantic analysis, and code generation. Cross-compiler and bootstrap compiler are two types of compilers where the former creates a code for a different processing unit or OS that the one on which the compiler is running. On the other hand, the latter is mainly a temporary compiler used for a better or more effective compiler.
#Tool 2: Debugger
A debugger is a programming tool that the developers use to test their created program. The developer will run tests on their created software through a debugger under a controlled environment that will help them determine whether the tested software’s outcome is satisfactory or not. The debugger will provide the developer with insights like memory usage, storage devices, test data, and CPU register.
#Tool 3: Performance Analyzer
A profiling tool is used to determine the actual performance of the software by running certain performance-based tests that will help a developer diagnose any underlying bottlenecks that might be hindering the software’s performance. Techniques like simulation methods, statistical actions, and event-based and instrumented practices are used to attain the desired results through profiling. In software development, the coders use profiling tools to evaluate the performance and find out the crucial code areas.
#Tool 4: Graphical User Interface Builder
Using a graphical user interface builder is an uncomplicated method of adding a graphical user interface to the software without writing code. The developer will use the drag and drop feature of a GUI builder, which will generate the desired programming code in the backend of the software. Most developers prefer GUI builders rather than adding the code manually because of the visual feedback that this tool provides and the feasibility of not adding any additional code. The GUI builder is specific for the programming language, so the developer should pick the code in which the software is built.
#Tool 5: Integrated Development Environment
Probably one of the most valuable software development tools, an integrated development environment combines all the frequently used tools in a single GUI. Tools like a compiler, source code editor, debugger, and interpreter are primarily present in an integrated development environment. IDE has combined several tools into one, eradicating the use of different tools, which makes it a preferred choice for developers. Rather than learning different tools, developers only need to learn IDE, and they are good to go. Furthermore, IDE helps the developers in managing their workflow.
Software development is an arduous topic to talk. This article covered all the major aspects of software development, including the process, terminologies, team members involved in the process, tools, and disciplines. However, merely getting information may not be sufficient to build reliable software. If you want to have efficient and reliable software, you can connect with ThinkSys Inc for software development.
Whether it is mobile, or web software development, our team is proficient in building software of all types.