With programming languages evolving and software development trends changing, that day is not far when we will completely be dependent on machine learning and artificial intelligence.
The past few decades have witnessed immeasurable changes in the digital world with countless software applications coming to the forefront every single day.
Developed to make our lives easier, applications have the potential to change the future of software development. Programmers find it quite easier today to write lines of code and come up with stunning results in no time.
In fact, some applications are so easy to develop that anybody can create them with ease. Today, we have come to a situation in which we can’t even imagine ourselves without having software in our day-to-day lives.
What is Software Development?
Software development, also known as application development or software design, is a process by which an individual or standalone software is created by using a specific programming language.
According to the IBM Research, software development can be referred to as a set of computer science activities, which are dedicated to the process of designing, creating, deploying and supporting software.
The method of software design involves writing a set of interrelated code lines, thus rendering the functionality of the developed software.
Apart from programming and designing, the software development process also involves activities like conceiving, specifying, testing, technical documentation, and bug fixing.
The role of software developers starts from researching, prototyping, data flow, and process flow designing, creating flow charts, modifying, re-engineering, reusing, debugging, and writing and maintaining the source code to the final manifestation of the application. The entire process is termed as the Software Development Life Cycle or SDLC.
What is the Purpose of Software Development
- To meet the unique needs of a particular business or client. This is the case with custom software development processes.
- To meet the perceived requirements of some potential users. This is the case with open-source and commercial software.
- To meet personal needs and such applications are solely designed for personal usage. For example, a scientist or an application developer may create software for automating some mundane tasks.
The main aim of creating software is to carry out day-to-day business or personal operations with ease. An application is designed to meet the following primary purposes –
- To boost work productivity and do things faster.
- To simplify or automate various processes.
- To track and record a set of necessary data and information.
- To take down notes for mind-mapping or brainstorming.
- To carry out projects and tasks swiftly.
- To meet one’s creative and artistic needs, especially that of graphic designers, web designers, filmmakers, audio professionals, and other creative artists.
- To prevent malware from harming one’s data for securing it.
- To enhance communication between businesses and clients (or amongst other entities).
- To aid and hasten the functionality of some other software, operating system, browser or other platforms.
Although the list is never-ending, the other purposes of software development are somewhat centered around these basic requirements.
Various Branches of Software Development
There are multiple branches of software development, each having specific purposes and goals. These include:
- Computer programming
- Software engineering
- Web application development
- Mobile application development
- Web development
- Video game development
On a primary level, there are four types of software, namely:
- System software
- Programming software
- Application software
It controls, manages and coordinates the processes and functionalities of computer applications with that of computer hardware.
This makes way for a harmonious computing system by allowing the hardware and software to work in tandem with each other.
It involves a set of tools that are used by programmers for creating other software such as Windows OS or Word processing.
This programming software, also known as languages, are used by programmers to write source codes, perform test runs, debug any errors, and to create and maintain new applications for computer systems.
This type of computer software is designed by keeping the end-user in mind, enabling them to accomplish meaningful and productive tasks.
It is developed to run on desktops, various mobile devices, different platforms and operating systems, and web browsers.
While the general intention of developing applications is to enhance productivity, a few of them, however, are created for carrying out malicious activities.
This malware is created and spread across various systems with the motive of producing undesired results.
The Future of Software Development
With software development trends evolving each year drastically, 2020 and the years that follow, seem quite promising to bring about significant changes and developments in this field.
Even though it is quite difficult to predict what the future of application development would be like, researchers have proven high potentials of Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence in the years to come.
According to some other studies and predictions, there is a possibility of the switch from Cloud data storage to ByteCode.
Besides, the programming language Python is expected to have a stark rise in the software development graph. Python has received much popularity in recent years and poses a challenge to Java and C.
Apart from application development; it has also made its reach to machine learning, data processing, data analytics, web development, and Enterprise software development as well.
As far as Enterprise programming is concerned, Java and JVM are expected to reign as per the reports from analysts.
Moreover, the power of some of the recently emerging and modern programming languages like Rust, Kotlin, Swift, and TypeScript, cannot be underestimated.
Just as they have shown promising paths in software development, they are most likely to continue doing so in the upcoming years.
One major reason for their growing popularity is that they focus on developer Ergonomics, thus making developing processes much easier and faster.
Talking about such great things, how can we forget about AWS, which has been the ruler since 2019. According to the predictions made by the technical experts, AWS will continue to dominate the software designing market this year as well.
However, slowly its competitors like Microsoft and Google will start showing up soon and share significant positions in the Cloud service industry.
And speaking of Artificial Intelligence, having Google and Facebook as its leading players in Deep Learning and Neural Network domains, Google’s new release Tensorflow 2.0 will continue to reign this year.
Heard about human behavior modeling? It will be the next trend in which human behavior will be programmed and modeled to develop algorithms that would help users gain numerous choices and possibilities.
And what about coding? The obvious answer is that a low-code or no-code approach will gain momentum in the years to come, as we have already seen in the past few years.
A Brief History of Software Development
The history of devising software development methodologies dates back to the 1950s. Until this time, terms like ‘approach’ and ‘framework’ didn’t exist.
Back in those days, the only formalized methodology framework that the developers were aware of was the systems development lifecycle.
With the growing needs of developing large-scale efficient and functional business systems as observed in the 1960s, the information systems were centered on heavy data processing operations.
Ever since that day, software engineers have been trying hard to create and implement various software development methodologies that would help accelerate the process.
While endeavoring with making development procedures productive and fruitful, they have eventually become successful with each passing year.
Here is a brief timeline of how software development methods have been evolving over the past few decades.
- 1950s – Structured Programming – Improves development time.
- 1960s – Waterfall – It is a sequential and non-repetitive (non-iterative) process that flows steadily downwards through the application-building phases like Requirement, Design, Implementation, Verification, and Maintenance.
- 1970s – Iterative and Incremental – This process is used to develop a system through iterative cycles. It is incremental, that is, built-in smaller portions at a time, thus allowing time to gain knowledge while designing the earlier versions.
- Early 1980s – Prototyping – In this stage, developers have taken to the process of creating prototypes of their applications. It involved building incomplete versions first to test their running abilities and to reevaluate the design as required. The steps involved are – a) identifying the basic requirements, b) developing the initial prototype, c) previewing of the created versions, and d) revising and enhancing the prototype.
- Late 1980s – Spiral – Spiral Model is a risk-driven process model generator designed for software projects.
- Late 1980s – V-Model – This is an extension of the Waterfall model. This is the era that marks the end of the Waterfall model.
- 1990s – Rapid Application Development – The year marks the start of the Agile era. It puts less emphasis on planning and more on the necessity of adjusting requirements as well as on process and adaptability.
- 1990-2000s – Agile Methods Rise – Agile methods implement adaptive and scalable planning, evolutionary development, continuous improvement and updating, early delivery, thus enhancing flexibility and the rapid response to change.
- 1994 –
Unified Process – Characteristics include a) iterative and incremental, b) risk-focused, and c) architecture-centric.
Dynamic Systems Development Method – Core Techniques include Timeboxing, Prototyping, Moscow, Testing, Modeling, Workshop, and Configuration Management.
- 1995 – Scrum – It enables teams to organize themselves by encouraging online collaboration amongst all the team members, while also enhancing face-to-face communication.
- 1996 –
Extreme Programming (XP) – Promotes frequent releases in shorter development cycles, and introduces necessary checkpoints for the adoption of requirements.
Crystal – It is lightweight and has an adaptable approach.
- 1997 – Feature-Driven Development (FDD) – The purpose of FDD is to deliver tangible and functional software repeatedly and in a timely manner.
- 2001 – Manifesto – Designed for Agile Software Development
- 2000s –
Agile Unified Process – It applies agile techniques that include test-driven development (TDD), agile change management, agile modeling (AM) and database refactoring for enhanced productivity.
Disciplined Agile Delivery – It involves a process decision framework that enables simplified process decisions around iterative and incremental solution delivery.
- 2010s –
Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) – This framework comprises a knowledge-base of integrated patterns that are intended for Enterprise-level and lean-agile development.
Large-scale Scrum (LeSS) – It involves a regular Scrum applied to large-scale application development processes.
- 2020s – More trends coming up…
Agile Software Development
Agile software development refers to several approaches applied in software development that involve the evolvement of requirements and their respective solutions.
This is achieved through the collaborative efforts of cross-functional and self-organizing teams and their end-users or customers. This process encourages –
- Adaptive Planning
- Promising and Evolutionary Development
- Early Delivery
- Continual Improvements
- Flexible and Rapid Response to Change
The term ‘agile’ refers to one’s ability to plan, create, implement and respond to change. Hence, agile software development can be referred to as an umbrella term that involves a series of practices and frameworks based on the principles and values expressed in the Manifesto for Agile Software Development.
It is something more than mere test-driven development, pair programming, stand-ups, and planning sessions. In short, the main objectives of an agile software development methodology are to Plan, Collaborate and Deliver.
Other Software Development Methodologies
Apart from Agile software development, the other primary software product development methodologies that are popularly used by any well-known software development company, include –
- Feature-Driven Development (FDD)
- DevOps Deployment
- Extreme Programming (XP)
It is the most traditional form of software development techniques and is often used by large teams, thus serving enterprise software development purposes.
However, it is given the tag of ‘outdated’. But various software engineers and software maintenance services tend to get back to studying its approaches and evolution history.
Feature-Driven Development (FDD)
It is considered to be derived from Agile development methodologies and is quite similar to the Waterfall. It focuses on the goals of creating and delivering functional software and takes to the client-centric approach, making it suitable for smaller application development teams.
It is known to borrow Agile’s foundational philosophy, which states that developers and teams must collaborate daily and heavily.
Team members help to break down large projects into smaller chunks and work on each of them to come up with more fruitful solutions.
This development methodology involves a set of practices that encourage organizational culture. It enhances collaboration between various departments and facilitates each of the different segments of the software development lifecycle, including development, quality assurance as well as operations.
Extreme Programming (XP)
It is yet another Agile framework that focuses on generating higher and better quality software by implementing the best practices of the industry.
XP also allows frequent releases in relatively shorter development sprints for encouraging and promoting change whenever required.
It incorporates practices and principles from the manufacturing space and applies them to a wide variety of industries, including application development.
How (and Why) to Learn Software Development?
While we have learned about the various methodologies applied in the field of software development, we will head on towards the ways as well as the importance of learning application development.
Ways to Learn Software Development?
- Be absolutely clear about your short and long-term goals
- You are able to analyze situations and deal with by coming up with effective solutions
- Choose the desired programming language that you want to learn
- Practice makes a man perfect! So practice coding and developing more often and put your skills to use!
- Use tools that are used by professional software developers
- Read the code written and tested by other expert software engineers
- Find yourself a supportive software development community to discuss things. This way, you can also make sure that your application development learning skills are going in the right direction.
- Develop and run actual coding projects
- Build strong connections by involving in activities like attending meet-ups, volunteering, maintaining a blog or speaking at events. This way, you will be giving yourself adequate exposure, and this will enhance your learning procedures.
Importance of Learning Software Development
- Whether it’s about acquiring the various development methodologies or following the trends of software product management, learning how to create an application has many benefits.
- You will learn new techniques every day, which enables you to acquire various skills. Learning a programming language and coding would allow you to make better real-life decisions as you will be able to devise plans and implement them efficiently in real-world problems.
- By learning software development, you will be able to adapt to changes and make Plans B and C as backups, in case Plan A fails. Hence, it prepares you to face complex real-life situations with ease.
- You will develop the skills and capabilities of leading efficient team collaboration, thus improving team productivity.
- Learning how to code, not only improves your analytical skills but also enhances your abilities to find practical solutions to any problems.
- Studying and learning software product development, software product management, and software engineering would open up a huge list of career options for you, hence promising you with a bright future.
With such promising results and powerful yet easy-to-understand programming languages evolving, that day is not far when most of us would be able to build our own applications and web pages while requiring minimum to no code.
Necessity, being the mother of inventions, would drive us to develop more advanced techniques in the near future, thus making software development procedures not-so-hard shells to crack.