You don’t just go out one day and say “Hmm I want to start a vineyard and produce fine wine.” Well, you might, but only if you are a millionaire with nothing else to do.
No, generally you are born or grow within an industry, learning and perfecting your skill as time goes by.
And that’s the way companies start to develop software as well. A software developer doesn´t just go out and say, “Today I am going to create a complex software program just because I want to.” There is a process to developing software an evolution that might start with an idea but then go through several phases and processes even before the developer starts to code.
In other words, a mathematician, engineer, designer or software engineer might come up with an idea and then spend a year or so developing algorithms, theory and processes before he even starts to code the software.
But before we go into how software is developed, let’s look into what software really is.
What is Software?
This is the computer programing used to create new or update and fix old software. It is this created software that allows a user to perform complex tasks in what he assumes is an easy way.
It used to be that software took years to develop, and even then only specialized and trained users could manipulate it. Even using a simple portable computer was a difficult process as no two computers used the same software. “We’ve come a long way baby” since the beginning of software development some 50 years ago. What used to take years to create can now be done in just a few minutes. Today, software development moves quickly and entire programs can be completed within a few hours.
Modern software development refers to the writing, maintaining and updating software releases for the term of their life cycle ( the life cycle differs depending on the time the developers need and the speed with which technology changes).
All in all, a software program of any type usually undergoes the following processes before it hits the market:
- Development which includes the math research, the structuring and development.
- Reuse, re-engineering of older software versions
- Maintenance and updates
What Happens Before It Becomes Mainstream?
Not all software becomes mainstream. This diffusion really depends on how effective a software program becomes and whether it is cost feasible and usable by anyone else other than the creator.
There are basically three types software programs that a developer creates:
- Software built to meet specific needs for a business. This is usually custom software that meets the requirements of a specific group of people. Or software created for personal use as in that which a programmer, mathematician or scientist may need to automate a process.
- Embedded Software development, which is used to integrate with physical products like cell phones, TVs, electronic toys and more.
- System Software, which is the basic software that underlies other software applications and programming software development. An example of this is the software seen on computers, laptops, tablets and smartphones.
This refers to the life cycle or the software development process. It is the way in which the entire software system or project is structured or planned. Over the years a number of different frameworks for software development have been used, and each of these has had strengths and weaknesses and has had to evolve to keep up with higher technological demands. Some structures are more of an engineering based approach while others are more incremental approach; a process where developers create in a block method.
Even so most methodologies use the following when creating software:
- Analysis. This is a thorough review of the situation, need or problem.
- Marketability. The study of the success or need of such a program.
- The plan or design of the software developing process
- Implementation and testing
The first step to developing effective software comes with the IDEA.
There are many different ways software engineers or scientists come up with the idea for a software product. It can come from market research of new customers, existing ones, sales or from other software developing professions. In a large company any new idea is first evaluated by marketing directors to evaluate the economic feasibility of the new software. In other words, with the sales outweigh the cost of developing the software.
The Current Issues with New Software Development
We are coming to an age where most ideas are feasible. Software can be created, however that doesn´t necessarily mean it should be. Engineers learn engineering but rarely relate to marketing or finance. This creates complications where software engineers believe in a product but don´t analyze the cost or time implications in developing it, and whether these time and costs will be reinbursed and in what time frame. Today it is too easy for software development to go beyond the needs of the client and stray into less technical fields such as human resources, risk management, budgeting, property ethics and other business areas of expertise.
This is where full analysis comes into play, where every aspect that comes into the project needs to be researched. Customers may think they know what they want, but don´t understand what is involved and what type of knowledge is required to get the software they want; that´s where an experienced software engineer can help. This professional can recognize when a project is too ambiguous or incomplete, or when an idea is contradictory. That´s when professionals need to return to thee drawing board and work out the exact software requirements for the project.
The Designing Phase
Once the project has been set up with all of the specifics the software development design stage can begin. This involves a preliminary design with an overall picture of the system and how each of the sections work together. This includes the outline of the coding language, operating system and hardware used for the software development.
The Implementation and Testing
The software engineers program the code and test it through its different phases. This ensures there are no defects. Once a software program is developed, the engineers must develop the documentation for the design. The purpose is to allow for future maintenance, upgrades and further development; making future products better and more manageable.
After the testing comes the approval for release and distribution. This involves the installation and customizing of software to the customer’s needs.
Not all software development follows a completely new idea. In fact, much of today´s software is built on refactoring. This is the process of improving on an existing program. Refactoring is taking a program that does not function as well as it should and improving on the performance, but reducing complexity, making it easier to understand or adding new features. Although this software process doesn´t require all of the analysis and cost factoring a completely new software idea might, the development process is still very similar.