Programming languages have driven all computing for a while, but cloud-native computing has certain requirements that some languages are better than others at fulfilling. Software development promotes the creation of tools that are compatible with technological advancements.
What Is Software Development?
Software development is a combination of computer activities that involve creating codes, designing, and deploying programs for user satisfaction.
Software Development Methodologies
Multiple methods are adopted in software development, but organizations usually take four common approaches — Agile, DevOps deployment, Waterfall, and Rapid Application Development methodology.
Agile Development Methodology
The Agile methodology centers around the iterative development concept. Teams write codes in iterations, and each process has added software functionality. The Agile development methodology helps minimize risks, such as changing requirements, bugs, and other threats when expanding functionality.
The Agile methodology has various subsets, such as feature-driven development (FDD), scrum, crystal, and extreme programming (XP). Agile processes encourage constant inspection and adaptation, making project management, leadership, and teamwork easy.
Although Agile development is one of the best software engineering practices, the process relies on real-time communication and a significant time commitment from teams.
DevOps Deployment Methodology
The DevOps methodology is more than just a development approach. DevOps centers around organizational culture and change. This methodology fosters collaboration between all teams that are part of the software development lifecycle (SDLC), such as quality assurance, development, and operations.
The DevOps approach reduces the failure rate of new code releases and increases reliability. This capability shortens the time required for fixes and minimizes disruption. Teams using the DevOps methodology can implement continuous integration and delivery processes for maximum efficiency.
DevOps deployment may not be best suited for customers that do not want continuous updates to their systems or teams that cannot meet the complex testing required in some industries.
Waterfall Development Methodology
Unlike Agile, the waterfall methodology follows sequential phases where each phase must be completed before the next begins. This methodology is often considered a traditional one, as it is rigid, with little room for modifications and changes. The Waterfall methodology is easy to manage as the focus is on one goal at a time, but it is often slow and can be costly to implement.
Rapid Application Development (RAD) Methodology
The Rapid Application Development methodology is best for fast-paced environments and time-sensitive projects. The RAD approach often follows four processes — requirement planning, user design, rapid construction, and cutover.
This methodology requires highly skilled and dedicated teams to work with a condensed timeline and receive approval after each construction process. Organizations with well-defined user groups and business objectives can enjoy all the benefits of the RAD methodology.
Phases of the Software Development Lifecycle
The software development lifecycle (SDLC) enables prior planning and proper management of resources.
Most SDLCs occur in phases that mirror the following process:
Planning. As the name implies, the planning phase is where project managers and software development engineers prepare for the upcoming project. Here, team leaders create an outline for the project, highlighting time frames and distributing resources, based on the business objectives. This phase allows software developers to catch theoretical errors before development begins.
Defining Requirements. Project managers define elements that are fundamental to the success of the development process. Lead developers highlight the overall objective, which must be achieved during the development process, as well as sub-elements that are essential to the project. For example, a payment platform would require the ability to receive card information.
Design. This phase often comes right before actual code is written. It’s a prototype of the end product that application software developers can reference during other phases. Designs cover the overall outlook of the project and include specifics such as databases, system interfaces, network requirements, and user interfaces.
Development. The actual codes are written and built during development, based on the outline created in the design phase. Small projects may have one developer, but bigger commercial projects often have multiple development teams. Tools such as debuggers, interpreters, and compilers are used in the development phase.
Testing. Before an application is made available to end-users, it needs to go through a series of tests to ensure that it meets compliance requirements, functions properly, and is free from bugs. The testing process is often automated and done in a simulated production environment that mirrors how the end-user interacts with the program.
Implementation and Deployment. At this phase, the code is made available to end-users as a new product or update of existing code.
Maintenance. This phase takes place at the end of the development cycle. Some bugs or issues that software developers did not detect during testing are fixed during use. If the development is part of an iterative cycle, plans are made for the new process, and the SDLC begins again.
How to Improve the Software Development Process
The software development lifecycle helps teams manage development architecture and clearly understand timelines. This process helps create a smooth development exercise but is not without drawbacks.
Here are some ways organizations can improve their custom software development process:
Choose a suitable SDLC model. The method a developer chooses affects the software development process. For example, a time-sensitive project adopting the Waterfall model leaves room for many risks such as the inability to identify bottlenecks until deployment.
Define what “complete” is. In software development, many teams are often working on different parts of the code for a single project. This workflow results in different timelines, with some groups depending on others. When there is a clear definition of a finished task, teams are synchronized, and there are fewer hiccups.
Establish clear communication. Good communication practices improve the development process because different teams — development and operations — can collaborate effectively on set goals.
Get the Latest Development News on The New Stack
At The New Stack, we don’t cover browser development — like Java — unless it is for some tools to retrofit enterprise Java applications into cloud-native environments. We monitor developments in areas such as:
Web Assembly (WASM), which could bring untold speed and scalability to the client side.
Developments in Python, given that it is quickly becoming the de facto language of choice for data scientists and practitioners of machine learning.
Go, which we sometimes refer to as “Golang.” Created at Google, Go offers a friendly environment for system programming, especially in cloud infrastructure environments.
Rust (“Rustling”) offers both the speed of close-to-the-metal languages such as C++, with the safety guarantees built-in to prevent many of the vulnerabilities that crop up in older languages.
In addition to programming languages themselves, we will also keep you up to date on the latest and best development tools, including IDEs, scaffolding, and testing tools. For the development lifecycle, be sure to bookmark our microsite on CI/CD.
Check out “This Week in Programming,” our weekly wrap-up of all the latest development news.