This article needs additional citations for verification. Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed.Find sources: "Software development" – news · newspapers · books · scholar · JSTOR (December 2021) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)

Software development is the process of conceiving, specifying, designing, programming, documenting, testing, and bug fixing involved in creating and maintaining applications, frameworks, or other software components. Software development involves writing and maintaining the source code, but in a broader sense, it includes all processes from the conception of the desired software through to the final manifestation of the software, typically in a planned and structured process.[1] Software development also includes research, new development, prototyping, modification, reuse, re-engineering, maintenance, or any other activities that result in software products.[2]

Software can be developed for a variety of purposes. The three most common purposes[according to whom?] are: to meet specific needs of a specific client or organization (known as custom software),[citation needed] to meet a perceived need of some set of potential users (known as commercial software ),[citation needed] or for personal use (e.g. a scientist may write software to automate a mundane task).[citation needed] Embedded software development, that is, the development of embedded software, such as used for controlling consumer products, requires the development process to be integrated with the development of the controlled physical product. System software underlies applications and the programming process itself, and is often developed separately.

There are many approaches to software project management, known as software development life cycle models, methodologies, processes, or models. The waterfall model is a traditional version, contrasted with the more recent innovation of agile software development.[citation needed] Though it is often used as an interchangeable synonym for "software development", the term "software engineering" is also used to refer to a particular approach to software development, which uses engineering methods and in some cases involves professional engineering qualifications.


This section does not cite any sources. Please help improve this section by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. (August 2010) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)

A software development process (also known as a software development methodology, model, or life cycle) is a framework that is used to structure, plan, and control the process of developing information systems.[citation needed] A wide variety of such frameworks has evolved over the years, each with its own recognized strengths and weaknesses. There are several different approaches to software development: some take a structured, engineering-based approach to developing software, whereas others may take an incremental approach, where software evolves as it is developed piece-by-piece.[citation needed] One system development methodology is not necessarily suitable for use by all projects. Each of the available methodologies are best suited to specific kinds of projects, based on various technical, organizational, project, and team considerations.[3]

Most methodologies share some combination of the following stages of software development:[citation needed]

The stages are often referred to collectively as the software development life-cycle, or SDLC.[citation needed] Different approaches to software development may carry out these stages in different orders, or devote more or less time to different stages. The level of detail of the documentation produced at each stage of software development may also vary. These stages may also be carried out in turn (a “structured” approach), or they may be repeated over various cycles or iterations (an "extreme" approach).[citation needed]The extreme approach usually involves less time spent on planning and documentation, and more time spent on coding and development of automated tests.[citation needed] Extreme approaches also promote continuous testing throughout the development life-cycle, as well as having a working product at all times.[citation needed] Structured approaches attempt to assess the majority of risks and develop a detailed plan for the software before implementation begins, and avoid significant design changes and re-coding in later stages of the software development life-cycle planning.[citation needed]

Software development activities

Identification of need

The sources of ideas for software products are plentiful. These ideas can come from market research including the demographics of potential new customers, existing customers, sales prospects who rejected the product, other internal software development staff, or a creative third party. Ideas for software products are usually first evaluated by marketing personnel for economic feasibility, for fit with existing channels distribution, for possible effects on existing product lines, required features, and for fit with the company's marketing objectives. In a marketing evaluation phase, the cost and time assumptions become evaluated. A decision is reached early in the first phase as to whether, based on the more detailed information generated by the marketing and development staff, the project should be pursued further.[4]

In the book "Great Software Debates", Alan M. Davis states in the chapter "Requirements", sub-chapter "The Missing Piece of Software Development"

Students of engineering learn engineering and are rarely exposed to finance or marketing. Students of marketing learn marketing and are rarely exposed to finance or engineering. Most of us become specialists in just one area. To complicate matters, few of us meet interdisciplinary people in the workforce, so there are few roles to mimic. Yet, software product planning is critical to the development success and absolutely requires knowledge of multiple disciplines.[5]

Because software development may involve compromising or going beyond what is required by the client, a software development project may stray into less technical concerns such as human resources, risk management, intellectual property, budgeting, crisis management, etc. These processes may also cause the role of business development to overlap with software development.

Planning process

Planning is an objective of each and every activity, where we want to discover things that belong to the project. An important task in creating a software program is extracting the requirements or requirements analysis.[6] Customers typically have an abstract idea of what they want as an end result but do not know what software should do. Skilled and experienced software engineers recognize incomplete, ambiguous, or even contradictory requirements at this point. Frequently demonstrating live code may help reduce the risk that the requirements are incorrect.

"Although much effort is put in the requirements phase to ensure that requirements are complete and consistent, rarely that is the case; leaving the software design phase as the most influential one when it comes to minimizing the effects of new or changing requirements. Requirements volatility is challenging because they impact future or already going development efforts."[7]

Once the general requirements are gathered from the client, an analysis of the scope of the development should be determined and clearly stated. This is often called a scope document.


Main articles: Software design and Systems design

Once the requirements are established, the design of the software can be established in a software design document. This involves a preliminary or high-level design of the main modules with an overall picture (such as a block diagram) of how the parts fit together. The language, operating system, and hardware components should all be known at this time. Then a detailed or low-level design is created, perhaps with prototyping as proof-of-concept or to firm up requirements.

Implementation, testing and documenting

Implementation is the part of the process where software engineers actually program the code for the project.

Software testing is an integral and important phase of the software development process. This part of the process ensures that defects are recognized as soon as possible. In some processes, generally known as test-driven development, tests may be developed just before implementation and serve as a guide for the implementation's correctness.

Documenting the internal design of software for the purpose of future maintenance and enhancement is done throughout development. This may also include the writing of an API, be it external or internal. The software engineering process chosen by the developing team will determine how much internal documentation (if any) is necessary. Plan-driven models (e.g., Waterfall) generally produce more documentation than Agile models.

Deployment and maintenance

Deployment starts directly after the code is appropriately tested, approved for release, and sold or otherwise distributed into a production environment. This may involve installation, customization (such as by setting parameters to the customer's values), testing, and possibly an extended period of evaluation.[citation needed]

Software training and support is important, as software is only effective if it is used correctly.[citation needed]

Maintaining and enhancing software to cope with newly discovered faults or requirements can take substantial time and effort, as missed requirements may force redesign of the software.[citation needed]. In most cases maintenance is required on regular basis to fix reported issues and keep the software running.

Software development vs. Web development

In computer programming both software development and web development refers to the same engineer or programmer and the process of coding. [8]

Note: software programs, esp. mobile apps can operate on the web.

Software development is focused on the programs (or software) used in computer systems. Software developers are responsible for the concept, creation, programming, some documenting, testing, improving and maintaining the software and its software components. [8]

Software developers (and mobile software engineers) create programs and mobile applications for stand-alone desktop computers and mobile devices and their platforms. [8]

Software developers need to have understanding of not only development best practices, but also the theory behind the programming. [8]

Web developers use coding and writing markup to create interactive webpages.[8]

Web development can be divided into two separates, the client side and server side. Client-side programming is responsible for every element that users can directly access on the web page, and the client-side systems allow the users to tell the webpage what they want it to do, while the server-side systems are responsible for fulfilling those requests. [8]


View model

The TEAF Matrix of Views and Perspectives.
The TEAF Matrix of Views and Perspectives.

A view model is a framework that provides the viewpoints on the system and its environment, to be used in the software development process. It is a graphical representation of the underlying semantics of a view.

The purpose of viewpoints and views is to enable human engineers to comprehend very complex systems and to organize the elements of the problem around domains of expertise. In the engineering of physically intensive systems, viewpoints often correspond to capabilities and responsibilities within the engineering organization.[9]

Most complex system specifications are so extensive that no one individual can fully comprehend all aspects of the specifications. Furthermore, we all have different interests in a given system and different reasons for examining the system's specifications. A business executive will ask different questions of a system make-up than would a system implementer. The concept of viewpoints framework, therefore, is to provide separate viewpoints into the specification of a given complex system. These viewpoints each satisfy an audience with interest in some set of aspects of the system. Associated with each viewpoint is a viewpoint language that optimizes the vocabulary and presentation for the audience of that viewpoint.

Business process and data modelling

Graphical representation of the current state of information provides a very effective means for presenting information to both users and system developers.

example of the interaction between business process and data models.[10]
example of the interaction between business process and data models.[10]

Usually, a model is created after conducting an interview, referred to as business analysis. The interview consists of a facilitator asking a series of questions designed to extract required information that describes a process. The interviewer is called a facilitator to emphasize that it is the participants who provide the information. The facilitator should have some knowledge of the process of interest, but this is not as important as having a structured methodology by which the questions are asked of the process expert. The methodology is important because usually a team of facilitators is collecting information across the facility and the results of the information from all the interviewers must fit together once completed.[10]

The models are developed as defining either the current state of the process, in which case the final product is called the "as-is" snapshot model, or a collection of ideas of what the process should contain, resulting in a "what-can-be" model. Generation of process and data models can be used to determine if the existing processes and information systems are sound and only need minor modifications or enhancements, or if re-engineering is required as a corrective action. The creation of business models is more than a way to view or automate your information process. Analysis can be used to fundamentally reshape the way your business or organization conducts its operations.[10]

Computer-aided software engineering

Computer-aided software engineering (CASE), in the field software engineering, is the scientific application of a set of software tools and methods to the development of software which results in high-quality, defect-free, and maintainable software products.[11] It also refers to methods for the development of information systems together with automated tools that can be used in the software development process.[12] The term "computer-aided software engineering" (CASE) can refer to the software used for the automated development of systems software, i.e., computer code. The CASE functions include analysis, design, and programming. CASE tools automate methods for designing, documenting, and producing structured computer code in the desired programming language.[13]

Two key ideas of Computer-aided Software System Engineering (CASE) are:[14]

Typical CASE tools exist for configuration management, data modeling, model transformation, refactoring, source code generation.

Integrated development environment

Anjuta, a C and C++ IDE for the GNOME environment
Anjuta, a C and C++ IDE for the GNOME environment

An integrated development environment (IDE) also known as integrated design environment or integrated debugging environment is a software application that provides comprehensive facilities to computer programmers for software development. An IDE normally consists of a:

IDEs are designed to maximize programmer productivity by providing tight-knit components with similar user interfaces. Typically an IDE is dedicated to a specific programming language, so as to provide a feature set which most closely matches the programming paradigms of the language.

Modeling language

A modeling language is any artificial language that can be used to express information or knowledge or systems in a structure that is defined by a consistent set of rules. The rules are used for interpretation of the meaning of components in the structure. A modeling language can be graphical or textual.[15] Graphical modeling languages use a diagram techniques with named symbols that represent concepts and lines that connect the symbols and that represent relationships and various other graphical annotation to represent constraints. Textual modeling languages typically use standardized keywords accompanied by parameters to make computer-interpretable expressions.

Examples of graphical modelling languages in the field of software engineering are:

Not all modeling languages are executable, and for those that are, using them doesn't necessarily mean that programmers are no longer needed. On the contrary, executable modeling languages are intended to amplify the productivity of skilled programmers, so that they can address more difficult problems, such as parallel computing and distributed systems.

Programming paradigm

A programming paradigm is a fundamental style of computer programming, which is not generally dictated by the project management methodology (such as waterfall or agile). Paradigms differ in the concepts and abstractions used to represent the elements of a program (such as objects, functions, variables, constraints) and the steps that comprise a computation (such as assignations, evaluation, continuations, data flows). Sometimes the concepts asserted by the paradigm are utilized cooperatively in high-level system architecture design; in other cases, the programming paradigm's scope is limited to the internal structure of a particular program or module.

A programming language can support multiple paradigms. For example, programs written in C++ or Object Pascal can be purely procedural, or purely object-oriented, or contain elements of both paradigms. Software designers and programmers decide how to use those paradigm elements. In object-oriented programming, programmers can think of a program as a collection of interacting objects, while in functional programming a program can be thought of as a sequence of stateless function evaluations. When programming computers or systems with many processors, process-oriented programming allows programmers to think about applications as sets of concurrent processes acting upon logically shared data structures.

Just as different groups in software engineering advocate different methodologies, different programming languages advocate different programming paradigms. Some languages are designed to support one paradigm (Smalltalk supports object-oriented programming, Haskell supports functional programming), while other programming languages support multiple paradigms (such as Object Pascal, C++, C#, Visual Basic, Common Lisp, Scheme, Python, Ruby, and Oz).

Many programming paradigms are as well known for what methods they forbid as for what they enable. For instance, pure functional programming forbids using side-effects; structured programming forbids using goto statements. Partly for this reason, new paradigms are often regarded as doctrinaire or overly rigid by those accustomed to earlier styles.[citation needed] Avoiding certain methods can make it easier to prove theorems about a program's correctness, or simply to understand its behavior.

Examples of high-level paradigms include:

Software reuse

This section may need to be rewritten to comply with Wikipedia's quality standards. You can help. The talk page may contain suggestions. (May 2016)

A definition of software reuse is the process of creating software from predefined software components. A software reuse approach seeks to increase or maximise the use of existing software artefacts in the software development lifecycle.
The following are some common software reuse methods:

See also

Roles and industry

Specific applications


  1. ^ "Application Development (AppDev) Defined and Explained". 13 August 2007. Retrieved 5 August 2012.
  2. ^ DRM Associates (2002). "New Product Development Glossary". Retrieved 29 October 2006.
  3. ^ System Development Methodologies for Web-Enabled E-Business: A Customization Framework Linda V. Knight (DePaul University, USA), Theresa A. Steinbach (DePaul University, USA) and Vince Kellen (Blue Wolf, USA)
  4. ^ Joseph M. Morris (2001). Software Industry Accounting. p.1.10
  5. ^ Alan M. Davis. Great Software Debates (October 8, 2004), pp:125-128 Wiley-IEEE Computer Society Press
  6. ^ Ralph, P., and Wand, Y. A Proposal for a Formal Definition of the Design Concept. In, Lyytinen, K., Loucopoulos, P., Mylopoulos, J., and Robinson, W., (eds.), Design Requirements Engineering: A Ten-Year Perspective: Springer-Verlag, 2009, pp. 103-136
  7. ^ Otero, Carlos. "Software Design Challenges". IT Performance Improvement. Taylor & Francis LLC. Retrieved 19 October 2017.
  8. ^ Edward J. Barkmeyer ea (2003). Concepts for Automating Systems Integration NIST 2003.
  9. ^ a b c d Paul R. Smith & Richard Sarfaty (1993). Creating a strategic plan for configuration management using Computer Aided Software Engineering (CASE) tools. Paper For 1993 National DOE/Contractors and Facilities CAD/CAE User's Group.
  10. ^ Kuhn, D.L (1989). "Selecting and effectively using a computer-aided software engineering tool". Annual Westinghouse computer symposium; 6-7 Nov 1989; Pittsburgh, PA (USA); DOE Project.
  11. ^ P. Loucopoulos and V. Karakostas (1995). System Requirements Engineering. McGraw-Hill.
  12. ^ CASE Archived 2012-02-18 at the Wayback Machine definition In: Telecom Glossary 2000 Archived 2005-11-22 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved 26 Oct 2008.
  13. ^ K. Robinson (1992). Putting the Software Engineering into CASE. New York : John Wiley and Sons Inc.
  14. ^ Xiao He (2007). "A metamodel for the notation of graphical modeling languages". In: Computer Software and Applications Conference, 2007. COMPSAC 2007 – Vol. 1. 31st Annual International, Volume 1, Issue, 24–27 July 2007, pp 219-224.
  15. ^ Merx, Georges G.; Norman, Ronald J. (2006). Unified Software Engineering with Java. Prentice-Hall, Inc. p. 201. ISBN 0130473766.

Further reading

  • Kit, Edward (1992). Software Testing in The Real World. Addison-Wesley Professional. ISBN 0201877562.
  • McCarthy, Jim (1995). Dynamics of Software Development. Microsoft Press. ISBN 1556158238.
  • Conde, Dan (2002). Software Product Management: Managing Software Development from Idea to Product to Marketing to Sales. Aspatore Books. ISBN 1587622025.
  • Davis, A. M. (2005). Just enough requirements management: Where software development meets marketing. Dorset House Publishing Company, Incorporated. ISBN 0932633641.
  • Hasted, Edward (2005). Software That Sells: A Practical Guide to Developing and Marketing Your Software Project. Wiley Publishing. ISBN 0764597833.
  • Hohmann, Luke (2003). Beyond Software Architecture: Creating and Sustaining Winning Solutions. Addison-Wesley Professional. ISBN 0201775948.
  • John W. Horch (2005). "Two Orientations On How To Work With Objects." In: IEEE Software. vol. 12, no. 2, pp. 117–118, Mar., 1995.
  • Rittinghouse, John (2003). Managing Software Deliverables: A Software Development Management Methodology. Digital Press. ISBN 155558313X.
  • Wiegers, Karl E. (2005). More About Software Requirements: Thorny Issues and Practical Advice. Microsoft Press. ISBN 0735622671.
  • Wysocki, Robert K. (2006). Effective Software Project Management. Wiley. ISBN 0764596365.

Media related to Software development at Wikimedia Commons