Software development process

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Software development process
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Core activities
Methodologies
Supporting disciplines
Tools

In software engineering, a software development methodology (also known as a system development methodology, software development life cycle, software development process, software process) is a division of software development work into distinct phases or activities with the intent of better planning and management. It is often considered a subset of the systems development life cycle. The methodology may include the pre-definition of specific deliverables and artifacts that are created and completed by a project team to develop or maintain an application.[1]

Common methodologies include waterfall, prototyping, iterative and incremental development, spiral development, rapid application development, and extreme programming. Some people consider a life-cycle "model" a more general term for a category of methodologies and a software development "process" a more specific term to refer to a specific process chosen by a specific organization. For example, there are many specific software development processes that fit the spiral life-cycle model.

In practice[edit]

The three basic approaches applied to software development methodology frameworks.

A variety of such frameworks have evolved over the years, each with its own recognized strengths and weaknesses. One software development methodology framework is not necessarily suitable for use by all projects. Each of the available methodology frameworks are best suited to specific kinds of projects, based on various technical, organizational, project and team considerations.[1]

Software development organizations implement process methodologies to ease the process of development. Sometimes, contractors may require methodologies employed, an example is the U.S. defense industry, which requires a rating based on process models to obtain contracts. The international standard for describing the method of selecting, implementing and monitoring the life cycle for software is ISO/IEC 12207.

A decades-long goal has been to find repeatable, predictable processes that improve productivity and quality. Some try to systematize or formalize the seemingly unruly task of designing software. Others apply project management techniques to designing software. Without effective project management, software projects can easily be delivered late or over budget. With large numbers of software projects not meeting their expectations in terms of functionality, cost, or delivery schedule, it is effective project management that appears to be lacking.

Organizations may create a Software Engineering Process Group (SEPG), which is the focal point for process improvement. Composed of line practitioners who have varied skills, the group is at the center of the collaborative effort of everyone in the organization who is involved with software engineering process improvement.

A particular development team may also agree to programming environment details, such as which integrated development environment is used, and one or more dominant programming paradigms, programming style rules, or choice of specific software libraries or software frameworks. These details are generally not dictated by the choice of model or general methodology.

History[edit]

The software development methodology (also known as SDM) framework didn't emerge until the 1960s. According to Elliott (2004) the systems development life cycle (SDLC) can be considered to be the oldest formalized methodology framework for building information systems. The main idea of the SDLC has been "to pursue the development of information systems in a very deliberate, structured and methodical way, requiring each stage of the life cycle from inception of the idea to delivery of the final system, to be carried out rigidly and sequentially"[2] within the context of the framework being applied. The main target of this methodology framework in the 1960s was "to develop large scale functional business systems in an age of large scale business conglomerates. Information systems activities revolved around heavy data processing and number crunching routines".[2]

Methodologies, processes, and frameworks range from specific proscriptive steps that can be used directly by an organization in day-to-day work, to flexible frameworks that an organization uses to generate a custom set of steps tailored to the needs of a specific project or group. In some cases a "sponsor" or "maintenance" organization distributes an official set of documents that describe the process. Specific examples include:

1970s
1980s
1990s
2000s

Approaches[edit]

Several software development approaches have been used since the origin of information technology, in two main categories. Typically an approach or a combination of approaches is chosen by management or a development team.

"Traditional" methodologies such as waterfall that have distinct phases are sometimes known as software development life cycle (SDLC) methodologies, though this term could also be used more generally to refer to any methodology. A "life cycle" approach with distinct phases is in contrast to Agile approaches which define a process of iteration, but where design, construction, and deployment of different pieces can occur simultaneously.

Waterfall development[edit]

Main article: Waterfall model
The activities of the software development process represented in the waterfall model. There are several other models to represent this process.

The waterfall model is a sequential development approach, in which development is seen as flowing steadily downwards (like a waterfall) through several phases, typically:

The first formal description of the method is often cited as an article published by Winston W. Royce[3] in 1970 although Royce did not use the term "waterfall" in this article. The basic principles are:[1]

The waterfall model is a traditional engineering approach applied to software engineering. A strict waterfall approach discourages revisiting and revising any prior phase once it is complete. This "inflexibility" in a pure waterfall model has been a source of criticism by supporters of other more "flexible" models. It has been widely blamed for several large-scale government projects running over budget, over time and sometimes failing to deliver on requirements due to the Big Design Up Front approach. Except when contractually required, the waterfall model has been largely superseded by more flexible and versatile methodologies developed specifically for software development. See Criticism of Waterfall model.

The waterfall model is also commonly taught with the mnemonic A Dance in the Dark Every Monday, representing Analysis, Design, Implementation, Testing, Documentation and Execution, and Maintenance.[citation needed]

Prototyping[edit]

Software prototyping, is the development approach of activities during software development, the creation of prototypes, i.e., incomplete versions of the software program being developed.

The basic principles are:[1]

Incremental development[edit]

Various methods are acceptable for combining linear and iterative systems development methodologies, with the primary objective of each being to reduce inherent project risk by breaking a project into smaller segments and providing more ease-of-change during the development process.

The basic principles are:[1]

Iterative and incremental development[edit]

Iterative development[4] prescribes the construction of initially small but ever-larger portions of a software project to help all those involved to uncover important issues early before problems or faulty assumptions can lead to disaster.

Spiral development[edit]

Spiral model (Boehm, 1988)
Main article: Spiral model

In 1988, Barry Boehm published a formal software system development "spiral model," which combines some key aspect of the waterfall model and rapid prototyping methodologies, in an effort to combine advantages of top-down and bottom-up concepts. It provided emphasis in a key area many felt had been neglected by other methodologies: deliberate iterative risk analysis, particularly suited to large-scale complex systems.

The basic principles are:[1]

Rapid application development[edit]

Rapid Application Development (RAD) Model

Rapid application development (RAD) is a software development methodology, which favors iterative development and the rapid construction of prototypes instead of large amounts of up-front planning. The "planning" of software developed using RAD is interleaved with writing the software itself. The lack of extensive pre-planning generally allows software to be written much faster, and makes it easier to change requirements.

The rapid development process starts with the development of preliminary data models and business process models using structured techniques. In the next stage, requirements are verified using prototyping, eventually to refine the data and process models. These stages are repeated iteratively; further development results in "a combined business requirements and technical design statement to be used for constructing new systems".[8]

The term was first used to describe a software development process introduced by James Martin in 1991. According to Whitten (2003), it is a merger of various structured techniques, especially data-driven Information Engineering, with prototyping techniques to accelerate software systems development.[8]

The basic principles of rapid application development are:[1]

Agile development[edit]

"Agile software development" refers to a group of software development methodologies based on iterative development, where requirements and solutions evolve via collaboration between self-organizing cross-functional teams. The term was coined in the year 2001 when the Agile Manifesto was formulated.

Agile software development uses iterative development as a basis but advocates a lighter and more people-centric viewpoint than traditional approaches. Agile processes fundamentally incorporate iteration and the continuous feedback that it provides to successively refine and deliver a software system.

There are many variations of agile processes:

Code and fix[edit]

Main article: Cowboy coding

"Code and fix" development is not so much a deliberate strategy as an artifact of naïveté and schedule pressure on software developers.[9] Without much of a design in the way, programmers immediately begin producing code. At some point, testing begins (often late in the development cycle), and the unavoidable bugs must then be fixed before the product can be shipped. Programming without a planned-out design is also known as cowboy coding.

Lightweight methodologies[edit]

A lightweight methodology has a small number of rules. Some of these methodologies are also considered "agile".

Other[edit]

Other high-level software project methodologies include:

Process meta-models[edit]

Some "process models" are abstract descriptions for evaluating, comparing, and improving the specific process adopted by an organization.

Formal methods[edit]

Formal methods are mathematical approaches to solving software (and hardware) problems at the requirements, specification, and design levels. Formal methods are most likely to be applied to safety-critical or security-critical software and systems, such as avionics software. Software safety assurance standards, such as DO-178B, DO-178C, and Common Criteria demand formal methods at the highest levels of categorization.

For sequential software, examples of formal methods include the B-Method, the specification languages used in automated theorem proving, RAISE, and the Z notation.

Formalization of software development is creeping in, in other places, with the application of Object Constraint Language (and specializations such as Java Modeling Language) and especially with model-driven architecture allowing execution of designs, if not specifications.

For concurrent software and systems, Petri nets, process algebra, and finite state machines (which are based on automata theory - see also virtual finite state machine or event driven finite state machine) allow executable software specification and can be used to build up and validate application behavior.

Another emerging trend in software development is to write a specification in some form of logic—usually a variation of first-order logic (FOL)—and then to directly execute the logic as though it were a program. The OWL language, based on Description Logic (DL), is an example. There is also work on mapping some version of English (or another natural language) automatically to and from logic, and executing the logic directly. Examples are Attempto Controlled English, and Internet Business Logic, which do not seek to control the vocabulary or syntax. A feature of systems that support bidirectional English-logic mapping and direct execution of the logic is that they can be made to explain their results, in English, at the business or scientific level.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Office of Information Service (2008). Selecting a development approach. Webarticle. United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Re-validated: March 27, 2008. Retrieved 27 Oct 2008.
  2. ^ a b Geoffrey Elliott (2004) Global Business Information Technology: an integrated systems approach. Pearson Education. p.87.
  3. ^ Wasserfallmodell > Entstehungskontext, Markus Rerych, Institut für Gestaltungs- und Wirkungsforschung, TU-Wien. Accessed on line November 28, 2007.
  4. ^ ieeecomputersociety.org
  5. ^ Barry Boehm (1996., "A Spiral Model of Software Development and Enhancement". In: ACM SIGSOFT Software Engineering Notes (ACM) 11(4):14-24, August 1986
  6. ^ Richard H. Thayer, Barry W. Boehm (1986). Tutorial: software engineering project management. Computer Society Press of the IEEE. p.130
  7. ^ Barry W. Boehm (2000). Software cost estimation with Cocomo II: Volume 1.
  8. ^ a b Whitten, Jeffrey L.; Lonnie D. Bentley, Kevin C. Dittman. (2003). Systems Analysis and Design Methods. 6th edition. ISBN 0-256-19906-X.
  9. ^ McConnell, Steve. "7: Lifecycle Planning". Rapid Development. Redmond, Washington: Microsoft Press. p. 140. 
  10. ^ Kent Beck, Extreme Programming, 2000.

External links[edit]