It’s a chance to improve customer service through added value, generate new revenue streams by launching a new product, and boost efficiency and optimize costs by facilitating business processes. All these tasks, and even more, can be addressed with software development.
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However, you can’t apply the same approach to the software engineering of a productivity app and a corporate CRM. Here’s why it’s essential to understand the different types and their specifics to make an informed decision about which professionals to hire.
Types of Software Development: Methodologies and Approaches
Here are some popular methodologies and approaches to software development explained:
The waterfall model is a linear sequential approach to SDLC (software development lifecycle), in which a logical progression of SDLC steps is applied. The product development is similar to the direction of water flowing over the edge of a cliff; the cliff is a goal, which can’t be revisited once completed. It’s commonly used to build a complicated multifaceted program that needs fixed requirements, ample resources with extensive skills, and minimum changes.
- Clearly defined requirements, including milestones, force a disciplined approach, even in large teams.
- There’s a lack of flexibility, meaning that a discovered flaw often leads to starting from scratch.
- The working product and testing are postponed till the last stages.
- No process overlap is possible, which reduces the overall efficiency.
This methodology focuses on flexibility, parallel development, personal responsibility, and well-defined roles shared across a team. It was developed by 17 developers who defined the Agile Manifesto, which has 4 main values:
- Individual interactions over processes and tools.
- Working software over documentation.
- Collaboration instead of negotiations.
- Focus on responding to change.
- The focus on change and flexibility allows for easy bug fixing, without significant expenses.
- Open communication and promoted collaboration allow for enhanced visibility during development, which fosters higher-quality solutions.
- Testing and operations fail to properly align their processes.
- Sometimes, it may be hard to communicate the concept to upper management because culture is often more emphasized than technology.
Agile has become widespread. There are now many other methodologies that are considered to be part of Agile:
- Scrum implies that teams fulfill their tasks within a sprint — 30 days. The product manager defines the backlog, which is a list of deliverables that can be altered by the corresponding team only.
- Kanban focuses on visual workflow management and is based on three principles: a visualized workflow, a limited amount of work in progress, and an improved flow of work.
- Extreme Programming (XP) is a disciplined method that features speed and continuous delivery of software at regular intervals. It promotes constant feedback collection, ensuring the final product meets users’ demands.
- Feature-Driven Development (FDD) is a customer-centric approach that allows for regular updates, quick error identification, and client awareness of the progress at any time.
DevOps is the next evolution of Agile, addressing its key disadvantages by combining software development (or Dev) with information technology operations (or Ops), which are closely connected throughout the whole lifecycle from design to maintenance. The more collaborative environment across teams allows you to create a better product and accelerate the delivery through automation, fast feedback, and iterative improvement.
The methodology implies:
- Version control to track and manage every change.
- Continuous integration (CI) to regularly integrate all code changes into the main branch and automatically test them.
- Continuous deployment that is aligned with CI and automates the infrastructure provisioning and application release process.
- Faster delivery through enhanced collaboration.
- Fewer errors, thanks to the aligned work of all team members.
- It’s often more expensive compared to other methodologies.
RAD mainly addresses the rigidity problem that often arises in the Waterfall model, featuring an adaptive development based on prototyping and quick feedback. These two piles are more emphasized than planning, allowing a professional team to make numerous iterations and experiment with several aspects of the future solution. Such an approach allows the team to deliver a quality-focused outcome aligned with user requirements.
- Flexible to requirement changes, regardless of the stage of the project.
- Customer feedback focused.
- Quicker development.
- Requires strong team collaboration and hard skills.
- Suitable for projects with a short development time.
- Complicated to manage.
The spiral model is based on the idea of a spiral, in which each iteration of a spiral represents a complete software development cycle — from requirements to testing and support. The model addresses risk management through numerous iterations. Their number depends on the number of risks involved. The person responsible for risk identification is a project manager, whose expertise plays a vital role in project success.
- Is suitable for large projects but allows for facilitated changes even at late stages without the need to start from scratch.
- Extensive risk analysis and handling allow for an enhanced result.
- Is much more complicated compared to other methodologies.
- Too dependent upon risk analysis.
- Hard to properly plan time management from scratch.
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Here are 5 key types of software engineering:
Web development is applied when building web applications and websites that are used via an internet browser across a variety of devices, from smartphones to laptops. This type encompasses three more directions of software development:
- Front-end development implies building the user-side of the product or a user interface (UI). It includes the layout of the future website, its visuals, and its interactive elements, ensuring they are adapted and can run on various devices/browsers.
- Back-end development is opposite to front-end and implies creating the server-side of a website or app. A developer works with the infrastructure, functionality, integration of the system, core logic, and the underlying structure that determines performance, security, and scalability.
- Full-stack development combines both frontend and backend, building user and server sides.
Mobile development involves creating applications for smartphones, tablets, and even smartwatches. Unlike web applications, these can work with or without an internet connection. When building an app, you need to determine for which operating system (OS) it will be designed: iOS, Android, or both.
- Native apps are coded for one OS only: either iOS or Android. They are usually more performant, secure, and scalable, but they are more expensive.
- Cross-platform apps are built for both OSs at the same time, sometimes, with limited adjustments for each system. Such an approach is faster and often more affordable; however, the app’s functionality and performance are limited compared to native ones.
- Progressive web apps combine the best of web and mobile apps. They are built with web technologies, but they can be downloaded to the home screen from a browser and act like a regular mobile app: they send push notifications and work online.
Desktop development was on the rise in the early days of programming but later was significantly substituted by mobile app development. The type allows you to build a desktop application for a specific desktop OS:
If the previous kinds of software development were targeted at so-called responsive devices like smartphones or PCs, embedded system development implies creating software for any device. This includes domestic appliances, medical devices, telecommunication equipment, vehicles, manufacturing equipment, and others. This can also be referred to as firmware development and requires close collaboration with the hardware team. Such solutions may be designed to quickly perform repetitive functions, often without an operating system.
Another direction is coding Internet of Things (IoT) applications, which power IoT-based devices and allow for data exchange and transmission.
This is an innovative type of software development that allows you to build AI-driven applications or software based on ML algorithms. The former apps are often used to automate repetitive tasks, while the latter is used for analytics and fostered machine intelligence.
Typically, both AI and ML are used to create intelligent software that can provide tailored recommendations, predict other vehicles’ behavior to empower secure autopiloting, detect fraud, power virtual assistants to provide customer support 24/7, and more.
Besides these 5 main types of software development, you may also consider cloud computing or security engineering.
Software development allows you to provide more value to your current customers, facilitate your workflow to optimize costs, and launch a new digital business by promoting your innovative products. Even though there are several software development types, they often overlap and are used together in a single project.
Such a combination may allow you to improve the development cycle or enhance the quality of the final output. To discover what type of software development is best for your idea, consider consulting with a reliable partner that can bring your project to fruition.