The Software Development Process
What Is Software
If we consider a computer as a single system, we can say that it consists of interconnected parts: hardware and software. What is hardware? This is everything that is included in the system of interconnected technical devices whose purpose is to ensure the correct input, processing, storage and output of information. What is software? This is all computer software: programs, operating systems, drivers, etc. The area of use of each computer is determined by its technical means and installed software.
So, when we talk about software, we mean the collection of programs, tools and data that are used to manage and perform tasks on a computer or any other electronic device.
The software development process is a sequence of steps and activities that must be performed to create software. It is important to note that the process can vary depending on the development methodology used by the development team.
To refer to the entire broad field of knowledge in the field of IT, there is the term software engineering. It includes not only programming, but also analysis, management, design of software systems, and much more. In software engineering, components are the building blocks that make up a system or application, and they must be designed and implemented with care to ensure proper functionality.
Software developer ilink will ensure the reliability and security of a software system by following industry best practices for testing and debugging individual components.
What Are the 6 Stages of the Software Development Process?
Let's identify the stages of software development. The basic steps include:
- Requirements gathering and analysis;
- Coding / Implementation;
Each step is an important part of the overall process, with many nuances. We will discuss the key points of the stages in the following paragraphs.
Gather and analyze requirements. Requirements analysis is an important part of the process that involves gathering software requirements. In addition to collecting requirements, you need to systematize them, identify relationships, and even document them. The requirements gathering process involves several stakeholders, including customers, developers, and users. It is also important to consider all the contradictions at the stage of requirements analysis. Software requirements should be documentable, achievable, testable, with a level of detail sufficient for system design.
Requirements analysis can be divided into three main parts:
- Requirements elicitation is communication with customers and analysis of the subject area.
- Requirements analysis is the identification of the relationship between requirements and evaluation, whether they are complete, unambiguous and consistent.
- Requirements documentation is any form of recording, from a simple description and use case to a process specification.
Design. After the analysis and determination of the main characteristics and functionality of the software, the next stage begins. This is where the user interface layouts are created and the visual style is defined. It should be noted that interface design should not only perform an aesthetic function and meet the expectations of software customers, but also be intuitive and easy to use.
Coding/Implementation. At this stage, the direct work with the code begins. It is based on the programming language chosen during the preparation process. This stage, like the others, contains many complexities and peculiarities. Here we will only mention that the quality of the project implementation depends on the coherence of the work of designers, programmers and testers. Coding can go hand in hand with testing to make adjustments along the way. Besides the fact that the programmer does smoke testing, this does not reduce the influence of the human factor on the code. This is just a minimal set of tests for obvious bugs. All the main work of finding bugs is done by testers.
Testing. This is one of the most important stages of software development. It is important to test software in order to improve its reliability and quality. It is common practice for all problems related to the operation of the software to be identified during the development process. It is common for developers to make mistakes in the code which can result in problems when interacting with the application. It is also possible that the program may not work at all as a result of defects. That is why the work of testers is so important.
There are various forms and types of testing. Speaking of forms, we can distinguish between manual and automatic testing. The manual method is complex and requires the tester to set up the environment and run tests. Automatic testing is performed by a machine that works according to a specific script. For example, regression testing is most often chosen as automatic. It is aimed at finding bugs in already tested sections of the source code. Some projects even use tools to automatically run regression tests at a given interval.
The types of testing are also different. There are functional and non-functional tests. The first tests the functionality of the program, where the tester tries to behave unusually by pressing different keys and looking for bugs. The second tests the performance, security, reliability, and responsiveness of the application. There are also statistical and dynamic tests. Statistical is done with the program turned off, when out-of-the-box functions are compared with the application's documentation. Dynamic testing is performed after static testing, when the application is turned on and the functionality of the features is determined in practice.
Deployment. This is the process of installing and configuring the software on the end devices or services required for launch and use. That is, the final code is embedded in the software and then deployed for use.
Maintenance. The final stage is the maintenance process of the final product. Customers start using the deployed application, and over time, some problems and bugs begin to appear. This may require additional effort from the development team.
Software Development Types
So, there are various software development process models. Throughout this article, we will explore a few software development methodologies. It can help streamline the development procedure and ensure that the appropriate methodologies and tools are used for each project.
Waterfall model. Developers follow a strict sequential process when moving from one process to another. According to the waterfall model, a transition from one phase of product development to another occurs only after the previous phase has been completed, and there are no backward transitions.
Incremental approach. Using this method, small parts of the product are sequentially created, followed by testing for performance and proper operation. As part of the software development life cycle, the development team works at each of the key stages, building upon the progress made at each stage.
Spiral approach. The spiral development model divides the product life cycle into phases by twisting it into a spiral. It is a kind of functionality that is completed with each turn.
Agile. This is an approach in which the development team works in small chunks rather than releasing the entire product. Requirements, plans, and results are continuously evaluated so teams can respond quickly to changes.
Scrum. A Scrum methodology consists of a set of values, principles, and practices that help teams organize and manage their work. Among the many examples of Agile approaches, Scrum is one of the most prominent. It is a specific production methodology, while Agile is more of a philosophy or set of values. It is important to note that Agile describes a development philosophy, while Scrum provides a set of tools for implementing that philosophy.
Other Information about Software Development You Should Know
Depending on the size and complexity of the project, different specialists may be involved in the software development.
- Developers. Specialists who write code.
- Testers. Specialists who check the quality of the software. They find bugs and write test scripts.
- Designers. Professionals who design the user interface.
- Project managers. These are the leaders who are responsible for planning, coordinating, and managing the development team.
- Analysts. Professionals who develop software requirements by studying user needs.
- DevOps engineers. Specialists who automate the process of developing, testing, and deploying software.
What are the 2 categories of software development methodology?
The two broad categories of software development methodologies are:
Agile Methodologies: These prioritize flexibility and collaboration. They involve regular and direct communication between developers and clients, continuous iteration, and adaptability to changes even late in development. Examples include Scrum, Kanban, and Extreme Programming (XP). Example: Scrum is a popular Agile methodology where development is broken down into "sprints" (typically 2-4 weeks). Each sprint has a defined set of features to be developed and tested. A potentially shippable product increment is delivered at the end of each sprint. Daily stand-up meetings ensure communication, while sprint reviews and retrospectives foster continuous improvement.
Plan-driven or Waterfall Methodologies: These are linear and sequential; each phase must be completed before the next one begins. They prioritize thorough planning and design documentation before coding starts. The Waterfall model is the most well-known example of this category. Example: The classic Waterfall model involves moving from one phase to the next sequentially. It starts with requirements gathering, followed by system design, implementation, integration, testing, deployment, and maintenance. Each phase must be completed before proceeding to the next, with little room for changes once a phase is done. Each methodology has its strengths and is suitable for different types of projects. The choice often depends on the project's requirements, its complexity, the client's preferences, and the development team's expertise.
Why are processes important in software development?
Processes in software development serve as structured frameworks that guide teams through the complex task of building software. Their importance can be understood through the following points: (Consider the software development lifecycle of a mobile application for a bank.)
Requirement Gathering: Before coding begins, the team must understand what the bank wants from the app. Without a structured process, developers might make assumptions that don't align with the bank's vision, leading to wasted efforts.
Design: Let's say a process mandates wireframing before high-fidelity design. By following this, designers ensure stakeholders get a preliminary visual, reducing potential costly redesigns later.
Coding: A process might dictate using version control systems like Git. This ensures multiple developers can work simultaneously without overwriting each other's code. It also helps revert to a previous state if a new change introduces bugs.
Testing: Here, a systematic approach ensures the app is tested across different devices, operating systems, and scenarios. The app might work perfectly on an iPhone without a structured testing process but crash on certain Android devices..
Deployment: Processes help in streamlining how updates are rolled out. For instance, the bank's app might use phased deployment, first releasing the new version to a small set of users. If no issues arise, the update can be confidently rolled out to all users.
Maintenance: After launch, user feedback might indicate a feature isn't intuitive. A well-defined feedback loop ensures such insights are promptly channelled to the development team for enhancements.
In this example,the processes at each stage ensure the bank's app is built efficiently, meets user expectations, and can be continuously improved upon based on feedback. Without these processes, there would be a higher risk of missed requirements, wasted efforts, and unsatisfied end-users.
What is the purpose of process development?
Process development aims to design, optimize, and standardize a sequence of actions or tasks to achieve efficiency, improve quality, and ensure consistency in producing desired outcomes.
Key Purposes of Process Development:
Efficiency: By eliminating redundant steps and ensuring optimal sequence of tasks, process development streamlines operations, saving time and resources.
Quality Control: Standardized processes reduce variability in outputs, ensuring consistent quality in products or services delivered.
Scalability: A well-defined process can accommodate growth, allowing an organization to handle increased demands without compromising standards.
Reduced Errors: Clear processes minimize the chances of oversights or mistakes, leading to better results.
Accountability: Processes delineate roles and responsibilities, ensuring clarity in who does what, which fosters accountability.
Predictability: With set processes in place, organizations can better forecast timelines, costs, and outcomes.
Continuous Improvement: Processes provide a foundation for measuring performance, identifying bottlenecks, and implementing improvements.
Example: Consider a pharmaceutical company developing a new drug. The process development ensures the drug is consistently manufactured with the right composition, efficacy, and safety. Initially, scientists in the lab might create small batches of the drug using manual methods. But to produce the drug commercially, the company needs a standardized, efficient, and replicable process.
Through process development. The company identifies the best equipment and techniques to scale up production. Steps are optimized to reduce waste and improve yield. Quality checks are instituted at various stages to ensure every batch of the drug meets the set standards. Training protocols are developed to ensure all employees consistently produce the drug to the same standard. By investing in this process development, the pharmaceutical company ensures that regardless of where or when the drug is produced, patients always receive a consistent and high-quality product.
What are the benefits of process development?
Process development provides a structured approach to tasks and operations, bringing about several benefits:
Efficiency and Productivity: Streamlining tasks and removing redundancies can lead to faster completion times and better use of resources.
Consistency: Standardized processes ensure uniformity in outputs, whether manufacturing a product or delivering a service.
Quality Improvement: With clear processes, errors are reduced, ensuring higher quality outcomes and fewer defects.
Scalability: Well-defined processes can handle growth, enabling an organization to meet increased demands without compromising quality or efficiency.
Cost Savings: Process optimization often leads to reduced waste, better resource utilization, and lower operational costs.
Clear Accountability: By defining roles and responsibilities within a process, it's easier to pinpoint issues and assign responsibility.
Predictability: Set processes allow for better forecasting, be it in terms of production timelines, costs, or expected results.
Improved Training: Clearly defined processes act as a blueprint, making it easier to onboard and train new employees.
Enhanced Customer Satisfaction: Consistent quality and timely delivery, resulting from effective processes, often lead to happier customers.
Basis for Continuous Improvement: A formalized process offering metrics and benchmarks to be analyzed for potential improvements.
Example: Consider a company that specializes in custom-made furniture. Initially, each craftsman might have his or her own method of designing, producing, and finishing a piece. This could lead to variability in product quality, unpredictable delivery times, and differing costs for similar items.
By implementing a process development approach, the company could: Standardize design software and templates. Introduce a systematic way of sourcing materials to ensure consistency and cost-effectiveness. Adopt a sequential production line, where each craftsman specializes in a specific part of the furniture-making process. Implement quality checks at multiple stages. As a result, the company would likely see reduced production times, consistent, high-quality furniture, predictable delivery dates, cost savings, and increased customer satisfaction.
What types of software are there?
Application programs. These are programs designed to solve individual, user-defined tasks related to data processing in a specific area of activity. Examples include text, graphics, audio, and video editors, educational and game programs, and more.
System software. These are programs that are part of the operating system. They provide control over the components of a computer system.
Service programs. These are programs that perform utility, maintenance, or service functions, such as archivers and antiviruses.
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