The software development process requires careful analysis, specification, architecture design, and implementation. Next steps include software testing, documentation, training, and ongoing user support. Several different types of computer software development models are available to help software developers create different computer programs. This development life cycle involves all steps from the initial software idea or concept to the implementation of the final product. Some of the processes used in computer software development are waterfall, iterative, incremental, and agile process models.
As the needs for developing computer software change, so will the methods of developing that software. The key ingredients in developing a software program are determined by the different type of development process used. Most software developers will use a combination or parts of each process in computer software development.
The first process in computer software development is called the waterfall model. This development model begins with taking a close look at all the requirements of potential application software, designing and integrating the actual software, conducting the necessary testing or validation, final installation and providing ongoing maintenance for the software. In this computer software development process, each phase must be completed before the next phase is started. Reviews and changes may be used after each development phase is completed.
The process of iterative and incremental computer software development lies at the other extreme of software development processes from the waterfall model. This process is used by developers when a customer may not know exactly what they need from a specific computer program. Needs analysis, programming, and component development are repeated in short cycles, or iterations, until the final computer software program is completed. This process utilizes information gathering and work on a number of smaller components to help bring full functionality to the finished program.
Agile computer software development is less structured than the waterfall or iterative/incremental development models. Developing software with the agile development model requires more creativity than structure. In this model, software is in constant flux, follows no logical process, and remains incomplete. The people developing the software and the ways in which they work together are more important than the actual process. The power of this creative software development process lies in the empowerment and collaboration of the development team as well as in it's capacity to respond to changes needed.