Software development is the active process of designing, coding, modeling, diagnosing, testing, documentation, and finally debugging involved in building and maintaining software, web applications, systems, or other software products. It can be done internally by the software engineers in companies that develop software products, or it can be outsourced to a third-party company that specializes in developing software products for other companies. The primary goal of this development activity is to achieve the highest level of quality in software products. Software development is usually an expensive process that involves many activities like bug-fixes, security fixes, refactoring, code maintenance, and reorganizing. It is also important to factor in the time needed for management training.
In addition to software development activities, there are also two parallel but different forms of software engineering. One is Desktop Applications Development, which deals with developing desktop software products for end-users and other small/personal applications like client-side GUI for web pages and client-side script development for web programs. The other is Enterprise Software Development, which is more involved in large-scale programming and engineering projects involving large numbers of users.
Generally, though, the scope of each of these activities is quite distinct. Desktop software development deals with producing functional but low-level software solutions; on the other hand, web development and enterprise software engineering deal with high-level programming and application development on the one hand and the back-end database programming and web development on the other. Both these endeavors require extensive technical skill, in-depth knowledge of the target technologies, extensive testing skills, as well as significant interpersonal skills. In addition, these endeavors require a lot of hard work, patience, and perseverance.
The software development technologies being used today are quite complex. For instance, there are a number of open source development technologies being widely used today. This means that the software developed by open source development technologies is generally much cheaper than ones developed using commercial software development technologies. On the other hand, commercial software development technologies make use of cutting-edge and innovative technology, making their development process quite expensive.
Agile and waterfall methodologies are two of the most common software development methods used today. Agile methodologies emphasize the development of software in a step-by-step manner, while waterfall methodologies stress the completion of software in a specific order. Both these methodologies ensure that software developers use the appropriate software development tools and employ appropriate methodologies in their respective processes. However, these two methodologies differ primarily in the extent of control that they provide to the software development team. Agile methods give the software developer more involvement in the process, as he or she is given more time to complete each task; whereas, waterfall methodologies give the software developer less time to complete each and every task.
Both waterfall model and the Agile model have their own advantages and disadvantages. There are many professionals who prefer the Agile model because it emphasizes the “iteration” concept. In Agile methodologies, each step in the development process is made possible by employing iterative techniques. This way, the software development team is given more time to complete each and every task; thus, there is a great deal of responsibility on the shoulders of the software engineers. Although the waterfall model may be a little slower than Agile model when it comes to delivery, the model provides an excellent testing facility. The testing facility provided by waterfall methodologies is much better than that provided by the Agile software development methodologies.