What is software development?

Software development describes the process of planning and creating applications to meet the needs of markets. Everything from computer games to enterprise databases started with a development process that transformed an idea into a finished process that involves several activities and steps. The following activities represent some of the components of software development. Although some parts of the development process might seem optional, they all should be considered as part of the effort to produce a software product that supplies value to its users.

Defining a need

Products that do not meet the needs of a market often seem doomed to fail. Software products are the same way. As a result, software developers must spend time understanding the need of their market. The process of identifying a need can involve many steps, depending on the developer’s environment. Speaking with managers and observing business processes, for example, might be necessary to develop an internal application. Similarly, market research might be necessary to identify an opportunity to develop a consumer-oriented product.

Creating a plan

After software developers understand what their application must do, they can craft a plan for producing a viable product. Planning can involve everything from defining required features and specifications to assigning developers to particular design stages. Planning can involve a testing strategy as well as a strategy to market a product when it becomes ready to sell.

Designing an app

Software design involves the methodology used in software development. Targeted operating systems and platforms, as well as programming languages, will affect the actual development process. Block diagrams often can speed the design process by creating a graphical representation of how the various modules of an application must interact.

Writing the code

When programmers have a plan and a design that will accomplish the purpose of their software project, they begin writing the actual program. The implementation process often involves tools such as version control to safeguard development teams against errors. The documentation process ensures that an application includes every required feature and that developers will be able to understand the code should it require future revision.

Testing the software

When developers believe that they have a working product, they must test and debug it. As the testing process nears its conclusion, test users are recruited to try the software in a real-world environment. Human testers provide valuable feedback that developers can use to modify user interfaces, add new features and adjust workflows. After a thorough testing and revision process, a software application is ready for deployment.

Effective software development requires the above methodical processes to guides a project from its inception to its implementation. Although developers can cut corners and skip activities, they do so at their own peril. On the other hand, developers who spend the necessary time to complete every activity in the development process can build a stellar reputation for delivering capable and functional software products.