Stages of software product development
When developing a specific application, it is necessary to clearly distinguish between the concept of “application program” (application) and “software product”.
A software product is a set of interrelated programs for solving a specific problem (task) of mass demand, prepared for implementation as any kind of industrial product.
Currently, there are various options for the legal distribution of software products that have appeared using global or regional telecommunications:
- freeware – free programs, freely distributed, are supported by the user himself, who is authorized to make the necessary changes to them;
- software – non-commercial (shareware) programs that can be used, as a rule, for free. Subject to the regular use of such products, a contribution of a certain amount is required.
A number of manufacturers use OEM programs (Original Equipment Manufacturer), i.e. built-in programs installed on computers or supplied with computers.
The software product must be properly prepared for operation, have the necessary technical documentation, provide a service and guarantee the reliable operation of the program, have a manufacturer’s trademark, and it is also desirable to have a state registration code. Only under such conditions can the created software package be called a software product.
Software products can be created as:
- individual development under the order;
- development for mass distribution among users.
With individual development, fintech software development company creates an original software product that takes into account the specifics of data processing for a particular customer.
When developing for mass distribution, the developer, on the one hand, must ensure the universality of the data processing functions performed, on the other hand, the flexibility and customization of the software product to the conditions of a particular application. A distinctive feature of software products should be their consistency – the functional completeness and completeness of the implemented processing functions, which are used in combination.
The software product is developed on the basis of industrial technology for performing design work using modern programming tools. The specificity lies in the uniqueness of the process of developing algorithms and programs, depending on the nature of information processing and the tools used. Significant resources are spent on the creation of software products – labor, material, financial; highly skilled developers are required.
As a rule, software products require maintenance, which is carried out by specialized firms – distributors of programs (distributors), less often – development firms. Maintenance of programs of mass application is associated with large labor costs – correction of detected errors, creation of new versions of programs, etc.
Maintenance of a software product – supporting the operability of a software product, switching to its new versions, making changes, correcting detected errors, etc.
Since any developed application can be brought to the level of a software product, let’s consider the stages of its development:
1. Statement of the problem:
- collecting information about the task;
- formulation of the condition of the problem;
- determination of the ultimate goals of solving the problem;
- determination of the form for issuing results;
- description of data (their types, ranges of values, structure, etc.).
At the first stage, the organizational and economic essence of the task is revealed, i.e. the purpose of its solution is formulated; the relationship with other tasks is determined; the frequency of its decision is indicated; the composition and forms of presentation of input, intermediate and result information are established; the forms and methods of information reliability control at the key stages of solving the problem are characterized; the forms of user interaction with the computer are specified in the course of solving the problem, etc.
2. Analysis and study of the problem, building a model:
- analysis of existing analogues;
- analysis of hardware and software;
- development of mathematical and informational model;
- development of data structures.
At the second stage of the technological process of developing programs, a formalized description of the task is performed, i.e. logical and mathematical dependencies between the initial and result data are established and formulated. The economic-mathematical description of the problem ensures its unambiguous understanding by the user and the program developer.
3. Algorithm development:
- choice of algorithm design method;
- choice of the algorithm notation form (block diagram, pseudocode, etc.);
- choice of tests and testing method;
- algorithm design.
The third stage of the technological process of preparing the solution of problems on a computer is the algorithmization of its solution, i.e. development of an original or adaptation (clarification and correction) of an already known algorithm.
- choice of programming language;
- clarification of ways to organize data;
- writing the algorithm in the chosen programming language.
The fourth stage of the technological process of preparing the solution of problems on a computer is the compilation (adaptation) of programs (coding). The coding process consists in translating the description of the algorithm into one of the programming languages available for computers.
5. Testing and debugging:
- syntax debugging;
- debugging semantics and logical structure;
- test calculations and analysis of test results;
- program improvement.
Testing and debugging constitute the final step in developing a problem-solving program. Testing is a set of actions designed to demonstrate the correct operation of the program. The process of testing is accompanied by the concept of “debugging”, which implies a set of actions aimed at eliminating errors in programs, starting from the moment the facts of erroneous operation of the program are discovered and ending with the elimination of the causes of their occurrence.
6. Analysis of the results of solving the problem and, if necessary, refinement of the mathematical model with repeated execution of steps 2 – 5.
7. Maintenance of the program:
- refinement of the program to solve specific problems;
- drawing up documentation for the solved problem, mathematical model, algorithm, program for their use;
- acceptance tests;
- trial operation;
- industrial operation.
After the completion of the testing and debugging process, the software tools, together with the accompanying documentation, are transferred to the user for operation. When implementing sufficiently complex and responsible software systems, upon agreement between the user (customer) and the developer, the stage of software operation can be divided into two sub-stages: experimental (experimental) and industrial operation.
Depending on the specific features of a particular task, the professional level of training of specialists and a number of other factors, some stages of the technological process presented in the general scheme can be combined into larger stages or implemented implicitly.