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Software Development 101

  Software development matters more than ever before. It’s the go-to process to helps companies stay innovative. Why is digital innovation important? Because it’s the driving force that businesses use to compete with rival companies. You may be wondering, “what is software development?” It is an action that takes place in the form of computer science. Developers take the following steps:
  1. They create the software.
  2. They design the software.
  3. They distribute the software.
  4. They support the software through regular updates.
The concept of software is simple. It is a list of electronic commands that instruct a computer or device to take specific actions. Software is always 100% separate from any hardware. Computers can get programmed in certain ways, based on the software that is active. There are four forms of software. Let’s go over each one.  

The Four Basic Forms of Software

  1) System software. System software takes care of all the basic functions and needs. These include:
    • -utilities
    • -operating systems
    • -hardware management
    • -disk management
    • -other basic operational needs
2) Programming software. Programmers need tools. And the tools get provided to them by way of programming software. Popular programming software tools include:
        • -linkers
        • -compilers
        • -debuggers
        • -text editors
        • -more tools that can write code
3) Application software. Applications/apps assist people in knocking out electronic tasks. Common application software includes:
        • -media players
        • -data management software
        • -security programs
        • -word processing programs
The concept of application software should be familiar to most people. Why? Well, do you own a smartphone? If so, your phone likely has many apps. Popular smartphone apps include Facebook, Instagram, Google Maps, Twitter, and Spotify. 4) Embedded software. This is sometimes referred to as “embedded systems software.” It controls the actions of devices or machines. Keep in mind that these are pieces of hardware that are not considered regular computers. These include:
        • -cars
        • -telecommunications networks
        • -robots
Embedded software connects these non-traditional computer-esque devices to the IoT. IoT stands for the “Internet of Things.” Who Develops Software? There are three specific job titles that create and develop most software:
        • -programmers
        • -software engineers
        • -software developers
But do not assume that all three roles are always separated. Sometimes at least two of the roles can overlap. The dynamics of each role depend on the specific product that is getting developed. Let’s take a look at each role: 1) Programmers. Programmers are sometimes referred to as “coders.” A coder/programmer writes source code. The source code programs computers for certain actions such as:
        • -routing communications
        • -displaying graphics or text
        • -merging databases
        • -processing online transactions
        • -having searches take place
Where do programmers/coders get their instructions from? They usually get provided by either a software engineer or software developer. The two common languages that programmers and coders use are Java and C++. 2) Software engineers. These are the people who, of course, make use of engineering principles. They do so to create systems and software that will take care of people’s problems. The engineers use tools such as modeling language to determine solutions. Those solutions cannot solve problems for certain people. They have to be universal so that every computer or device can run the software in the correct manner. If not, people will complain and that will lead to lots of problems. What’s the secret weapon for any software engineer conducting problem-solving? Using the scientific method. This is because the engineering must be precise. Otherwise, one big glitch could lead to many real world problems. For example, say developed software controls an elevator. A software engineer must run plenty of tests on the program. This is to prevent people from getting stuck on the elevator. 3) Software developers. Software develops do not have as much of a formal role as programmers and engineers. A developer’s unique role depends on the specific software that he or she is creating. Developers are usually very skilled when it comes to writing code. But their role is almost always bigger than that. Developers are responsible for pushing the software development lifecycle forward. They work in teams to:
        • -identify software requirements
        • -turn those requirements into features
        • -oversee development teams
        • -manage every development process
        • -take part in software testing
        • -maintain the software over a long period of time
Keep in mind that a software developer does not have to be a coder or a member of a development team. Many occupations can create code even if their job title isn’t “Software Developer.” For example, many modern-day scientists know how to develop advanced software. Custom vs. Commercial Software Development Many people confuse the concepts of custom and commercial software development. Custom software development focuses on:
        • -designing software
        • -creating software
        • -distributing software
        • -maintaining software
Commercial software development refers to COTS. What is COTS? It stands for “commercial off-the-shelf software.” This is software that can fulfill many general needs. They are needs that custom software development cannot deliver. Commercial software development means there’s a product that can get distributed to stores. Those store can either be physical or online. The Ten-Step Process of Developing Software Here are the ten common steps that many software developers take.   1) Choose a method. This step is one of the most important because it sets up a framework for software development. This is where the developer creates a roadmap that the team will stick to. Common forms of a software development method include:
        • -DevOps
        • -RAD: Rapid Application Development
        • -Waterfall
        • -Agile development
        • -SAFe: Scaled Agile Framework
  2) Determine requirements. This is when the developer attempts to understand what future users will need. The requirements get written down and turned into a list that the team can refer to. The development team must keep in mind who the stakeholders are.   3) Select an architecture. What is software architecture? It is the key structure, or foundation, that everything else sits on top of. The software cannot operate until the developer builds an architecture during this step.   4) Create a design. It’s now time for the developer to determine a design that’s based on solutions to the key issues. A developer uses storyboards and process models to build a quality design.   5) Code construction. A software developer must use the right programming language to construct the code. One cannot go at it alone during this step. It is best for the entire team/certain peers to review the code. Why? So that any issues get resolved as fast as possible. Great software cannot exist without the code being as close to perfect as possible.   6) Test the software. It is now time for the software developer to conduct plenty of tests. But the tests must feature pre-determined scenarios. This is a staple of software coding/design. Performance testing simulates what the application is capable of.   7) Manage the defects and configuration. This is where the software developer ensures that all software artifacts are intact. These include:
        • -the design
        • -the code
        • -the requirements
        • -more testing measures
  The developer then creates unique versions of the program or application. This is another crucial step because it eliminates defects within the software.   8) Deployment. The software developer has now addressed all issues about the program or application. This step involves the developer’s company releasing the software to the public. But the developer’s job is far from over. He or she must now work on solving any problems that the users experience.   9) Data migration. This step varies depending on the specifics surrounding the developed software. New software may not need any migration. But sometimes it’s required. Updated software usually requires migration. Why? Because there are often existing data sources and applications. The developer must then extract data from those sources and applications.   10) Maintain quality. The user experience being a success on launch day doesn’t mean that development has ended. The software developer must continue to work hard. He or she must ensure that the program/application runs without any trouble. This need to take place during the entire lifecycle of the software. Developers often use CMM to assist them during this step. What is CMM? It stands for “Capability Maturity Model.”  

Why Does Software Development Matter So Much?

  It is one of a company’s top-secret weapons when it comes to standing out from the competition. People gravitate toward quality software. Say your brand can create a program or application that people enjoy. That means it is almost guaranteed that your business will be successful. Not to mention, great software also:
      • -boosts the customer experience
      • -proves that your company is innovative
      • -makes customers interested in your products
      • -gives your marketing and sales team plenty of selling points
      • -improve your company’s (and your customer’s) operations

Put Thought Into Which Software Development Model You Want to Use

  Every software development model has its pros and cons. The key is selecting a model that will benefit your business the most. It all starts with understanding the best practices associated with each development model. Let IMMS know if you have questions about choosing a software development process. Our team uses a wide variety of industry sources to ensure our clients achieve success. But never put too much pressure on yourself. Using any software development model is better than not having one. Once you choose one, adhere to it from start to finish. Otherwise, you will risk having your project not turn out the way you expected it would. Take your time gathering all the software project’s requirements. This way, everyone on your team will recognize how to build world-class software.