What is Software Development: Definition, Processes and Types

What is software development?

Software development is the process programmers use to build computer programs. The process has several stages known as Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC) which is a method for building products that meet technical specifications and user requirements.

The SDLC gives an international standard that software companies can use to build and improve effective products within a clear budget and timeline.  It includes a clear structure for development teams to follow in the design, creation, and maintenance of high-quality software. 

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6 major steps in the software development life cycle, are: 

  1. Needs identification


This is usually the first step in building the mobile app.  At this stage, you will need to identify the viability of your product through extensive market research and brainstorming sessions.  This can be done in several ways, such as getting feedback from potential and existing customers and surveys.  Developers will need to identify the functions and services of the software that is required for the end users to reach their target and get the best experience out of it. 

The IT team and other divisions of the company should discuss the strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities of the product.  The further development phase should only be initiated after you are confident that the product fulfills every factor necessary for its success. 

  1. Requirement analysis


The second stage of development is requirement analysis.  At this stage, the developers, users, testers, project managers, and quality assurance are involved.  This is when the detailed outline of every component, the scope, the tasks of developers, and testing parameters are identified and laid down ensuring a quality product will be delivered.

At this stage, the stakeholders agree on the technical and user requirements and specifications of the proposed product to achieve its goals.  Programmers will also choose the software development approach such as the waterfall or V model.  This is recorded in the Software Requirement Specification document by the team which teams can always consult or refer back to during the project implementation. 

  1. Design


The third stage of the software development process is the design.  At this point, the developer will draw the advanced technical specifications they need to create the software to requirements.  This is also where the stakeholders can start discussing the risk levels, team composition, applicable technologies, time, budget, project limitations, method, and architectural design. 

The Design Specification Document (DSD) lists down all the aspects of the design, such as the architectural design, its components, communication, front-end representation, and user flows of the product.  This will be the manual for developers and testers to follow to reduce the chances of issues and delays in the finished product. 

  1. Development and implementation


At this stage, the development and implementation of the design parameters start to take place.  The coding begins based on the product specifications and requirements agreed upon in the previous stages.  The front-end developers build interfaces and back-ends while database administrators create relevant data in the database.  The programmers will run tests and review each other’s code. 

Once this is complete, you will have the pilot version to be tested.  The developers will deploy the product to an environment in the implementation stage.  The performance of the software will need to match all the requirements listed.

  1. Testing


At this testing stage, the software is being tested and checked for bugs and any forms of vulnerability in its performance before it is delivered to the users.  Expert testers inspect the product’s functions and make sure they are in accordance to the requirements analysis document. 

These testers will use exploratory testing or a test script to validate the performance of individual components of the software.  If there is any issue the testers will notify the developers, of which the developers are to confirm the flaws are valid and rectify or improve the program.  This process will be repeated until the software is free of bugs and performs according to requirements. 

  1. Deployment and maintenance


Once all tests are clear and the software is free from any defects, the developers can now deliver it to the customers.  The IT software development company will need to create a maintenance team to manage any issues encountered when using the product. 

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There are three main groups for software depending on their use and application.  Here are the groups:

  • System Software


This is also called Operating System or OS, which is the program your computer uses to translate input commands into machine-readable language.  The operating system controls the computer’s hardware components. 

The popular operating systems today would be Windows OS from Microsoft, macOS for Apple MacBook, and Linux-based Ubuntu.  Web servers use the Apache OS while the UNIX system is used to build proprietary systems. 

  • Application Software


This is used for task performance in computers and smartphones, such as word processing apps, internet browsers, media players, photo editing tools, anti-virus, and even software-as-service (SAS) products. 

  • Programming Languages


This is the programming language used by coders to create programs and software.  Programming languages include Java, C++, PHP, and Simlab.

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