Man has advanced with its technology far enough to a point where it has reinvented himself beyond what was thought as impossible.
The 21st century is a witness to how people live and breathe in a world that is practically run by automated, efficiently multitasking and highly adaptable machines. These computing machines, more aptly termed computers, have evolved together with mankind as to how it “thinks and acts” in solving man’s problems.
As such, computer programmers and engineers need to create the most versatile and most reliable software to match the growing requirements of the society. This gives rise to the question – how does software make a computer the staple machine in every home, school, and office?
The Rise of Software
In simple terms, software refers to a computer program or set of data that are stored electronically and is used to perform virtually any task on a computer machine. Its applications range from the development of popular mobile games and basic office encoding purposes, to highly sophisticated cloud security protocol and launching of exploration teams into space.
With the unlimited potential of become anything a programmer chooses it to accomplish, software development has become one of the fastest growing and the biggest industries of the last few decades.
According to Forrester, a technology and market research company, in 2014, as the economy improved, the software industry grew at a rate of 7.1%. This was the fastest growth rate in the world of information technology for that year. This is due to the fact that business models around the world have adapted to fit Information and Communication Technology (ICT) practices in its framework.
Evidently, the core of this profession is software development precisely because computers are simply scrap metal and wires without programs running these parts. As such, the concept of software development might seem too daunting for an average person. However, proper knowledge and understanding of the science can bring a different light to anyone who ventures into this vast world of the computer age.
A variety of approaches have been defined and designed based on the different phases of software development considered. Specific life cycles, better known as “Software Development Process Models”, are closely followed in order to ensure that the software development process can yield a success on the project’s objective.
These software life cycle models define the software development phases to be considered, and the order in which the phases should be carried out. There are six phases in every software development life cycle model:
1) Identification of Requirements/Analysis: The main focus of this phase is to gather requirements such as who will use the system and how will it be used. It should answer what data need to be inputted in the system and what corresponding output should the system provide. These requirements are then analyzed for their validity and viability in the overall deliverables of the project. All these are compiled into a Requirement Specification document to guide the succeeding phases of the models.
2) Design/Specification: The system and software design is then prepared based on the requirements. System design indicates the hardware and system requirements, as well as the outline for the overall system framework. This is also the phase where the engineers and developers create a test strategy including what to test conduct, and how the test should be conducted.
3) Programming/Coding: Upon validation, system design documents are divided into modules or unit. After the validation, the actual coding is then implemented. This is the most crucial part for the developer, and it happens to be the lengthiest stage of the software development life cycle.
4) Testing: After the code has been developed, the software is subjected to testing to see if the product can actually address the needs identified during the first phase. All forms of functional testing such as unit testing, integration testing, system testing and acceptance testing are done, as well as other non-functional types of testing.
5) Deployment: Once testing has been successful, the product is sent to the customer for trial use and beta testing. If there are any identified bugs or other necessary changes, the engineering team can apply relevant modifications, and then release the final version software for client use.
6) Maintenance: Actual problems with the software may surface once it is already being used by the customer. Providing customer support and product service is the last phase.
Whichever model is chosen for a specific project, the main objective is still to resolve the initial concern of a client. Specific models yield specific results. Some of the more common models are: Waterfall model, Joint application development (JAD), Rapid application development (RAD) model, synchronize-and-stabilize, Spiral model and Prototyping model.
Evolution and Application
This complex industry has been on a constant evolution towards redefining and improving its processes. Thanks to its functionality growth and expansion, software applications has expanded to operating systems, software applications, network management tools, and customized enterprise software systems.
While commercial software is created in response to a demand in the market, enterprise software is a solution to a company’s internal hurdle or as a means of accelerating and improving efficiency of current business processes.
Similarly, as software development evolves to cater more intricate and complex calculations, upgrades to the hardware are also deemed necessary. For instance, just a few years back, messaging has seemed to reach its pinnacle; landline telephones and fax machines are the greatest tool any office could get.
Nowadays, internet has broken the communication barrier with its powerful connectivity. Chat service (FB messaging, Viber and Slack, to name a few) and online fax service (Find out more here: http://www.gmailfaxhelp.com/tutorials/google-fax-number/) have raised the level of connectivity to a higher level. Thus, an office computer and a printer (which is already common set-up in the first place) are more than enough to get the job done.
In this light, the development of more advanced hardware is inevitable. Hardware that are more capable in processing more complex information is bound to evolve with the growing human needs.
Software Creates Opportunities for Everyone
To the casually curious or the intensely interested, James Burt is an experienced software developer of 16 years without any formal qualifications. In an article by The Guardian, he highlights valuable tips on how to become a professional software developer despite not having the degree.
He says a positive attitude will get you far in your career. He then emphasizes the importance of showing enthusiasm in programming. “You need to enjoy programming to do it well.” When an aspiring developer is happy what he or she is doing, taking actions on how to improve the craft naturally follows.
Fortunately, self-studying is easier than ever since the internet is abundant with free online tutorials and countless educational YouTube videos on current relevant practices. There are also plenty of free-to-download e-books on programming languages from the very basic to the advanced.
Technological universities like Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have online courses for fee that can be taken by anyone at any convenient time. Burt highly encourages participation in virtual communities where one can be exposed to professionals in the field. Having peers in the industry both online and offline is a huge boost not only in acquiring up-to-date knowledge but also gaining significant experience.
In addition, joining open source projects is an excellent example of increased self-learning and meeting a diverse group of professionals in one project. It is important to always look for opportunities where one can enhance and further hone his or her IT skills. Burt emphasized that aspirants should consider doing freelance work. This is a great way to get traction in the industry. There are many organizations online such as Freelance Adviser, Guerrilla Freelancing and Freelancers Union, who offer invaluable resources in freelancing in general and there are online communities where you can venture into as a beginner.
Whether software development sparks interest as a degree, profession, hobby, or investment, this industry is definitely worth looking into. It is a challenging and worthwhile discipline that also happens to be lucrative. It is an exciting time for programmers since a lot of other industries from all around the globe are constantly searching for talented people, and it is not showing signs of stopping anytime soon.
In fact, the need only increases as the technology becomes more advanced (which is always the plan).
In a society where everything seems to have already been invented, software development shatters that mindset and paves way to the creation of things no one even knew could be possible.