Software development is the process of computer programming, documenting, testing, and bug fixing involved in creating and maintaining applications and frameworks resulting in a software product. Software development is a process of writing and maintaining the source code, but in a broader sense it includes all that is involved between the conception of the desired software through to the final manifestation of the software, sometimes in a planned and structured process. Therefore, software development may include research, new development, prototyping, modification, reuse, re-engineering, maintenance, or any other activities that result in software products.
Software can be developed for a variety of purposes, the three most common being to meet specific needs of a specific client/business (the case with custom software), to meet a perceived need of some set of potential users (the case with commercial and open source software), or for personal use (e.g. a scientist may write software to automate a mundane task). 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.
The need for better quality control of the software development process has given rise to the discipline of software engineering, which aims to apply the systematic approach exemplified in the engineering paradigm to the process of software development.
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.
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. A wide variety of such frameworks have evolved over the years, each with its own recognized strengths and weaknesses. There are several different approaches to software development: some take a more structured, engineering-based approach to developing business solutions, whereas others may take a more incremental approach, where software evolves as it is developed piece-by-piece. One system development methodology is not necessarily suitable for use by all projects. Each of the available methodologies is best suited to specific kinds of projects, based on various technical, organizational, project and team considerations.
Most methodologies share some combination of the following stages of software development:
- Analyzing the problem
- Market research
- Gathering requirements for the proposed business solution
- Devising a plan or design for the software-based solution
- Implementation (coding) of the software
- Testing the software
- Maintenance and bug fixing
Software development activities
The sources of ideas for software products are legion. 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.
- Software Product Architecture
- Software Product Design
- Software Product Testing and QA
- Migration and Porting
- Technical Support
- Sustaining Engineering
- Professional Services
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