Over the last forty-or-so years, computers have come to play an increasingly essential role in all facets of our work and personal lives. So much so, it’s now almost impossible to imagine how the world functioned before the advent of our modern gadgets and technology.
However, while computers have undoubtedly played a significant part in the tech revolution, without software, these machines amount to little more than a collection of chips and transistors. Software is what makes computers function and what adds the extra special value that technology has brought to our lives.
How software is designed and developed
Almost without exception, software development involves five key stages to take an idea from a draft concept through to a working product ready for mass consumption.
From music streaming apps to photo editors and word processors, all software goes through similar stages before it’s deemed ready to reach us, the end consumer. This process is normally called the Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC) and typically involves distinct phases:
Planning, analysis and defining roles: Arguably, one of the most important aspects of software development is the planning phase. It’s essential to outline the goals and expectations of the project and make sure everyone involved is on the same page and up to speed with what’s required of them. Writing and designing code is a time-consuming process, so everyone working on the venture must know precisely what role they’re expected to play and what aspects of the job they are responsible for. This stage involves extensive liaison with the commissioning client to ensure expected deliverables are clearly defined before starting the job.
Designing the software’s architecture: Once the goals of the project have been agreed upon by all stakeholders, software engineers and designers will move to the next phase of creating a high-level design and development plan for the application and processes. This document summarizes the hardware and system requirements, application security considerations, details of software transactions, and communication and data flow, resulting in a Design Document Specification (DDS) that will be used for all further stages of development.
Building and writing the project: At this point, the real development work begins, and designers/coders work in unison to bring the project to fruition. Working closely to the DDS defined in the previous stage, programmers write the application in the languages defined as being best for the job (such as C, Pascal, C++, Java, etc.). Designers are also involved in the build phase to produce the most intuitive Graphical User Interface (GUI), enabling the end consumer to make the best and most natural use of the software.
Testing: Software undergoes extensive testing before being deployed for general use to identify and correct any underlying issues which might have been overlooked during the development phase.
Deployment and on-going maintenance: Contrary to what many people think, software development is not a one-time deal. Following deployment, the application will be continuously tested, upgraded, and maintained to address any unforeseen issues or security problems that might arise.