What is Software Engineering?
As the world is getting advanced day by day and the technical applications and softwares have taken over the world. The process by which these softwares are developed and deployed is known as Software engineering. The process starts from requirement gathering from the clients and noting down their key necessities, then mapping all those jotted down requirements onto an actual tangible software product, testing it and deploying it.
Why Software Engineering?
Software Crisis: Late 1960s era was the time when most of the built software products were starting to fail and would cost more than a fortune in their development. Most softwares used to fail even before deployment as they used to get over budgeted and the output was nothing but a doomed failure; resulting in a massive loss of resources. Even if large softwares pertained to successful development, it was a total mess maintaining them. Large scale softwares used to fail if they were introduced with increased hardware capability. As discussed above, the requirements gathering wasn’t done properly and the client used to bombard the developers with altering requirements on the basis of, “It’s just a single module”, little do the non-technical clients know that this module is dependent upon tens of hundreds of other modules and thus, changing it isn’t a piece of cake. Most importantly, the rise in demand for development of new softwares spiked in such a way that was unable to be coped. Combining all these issues, the term of the ‘software crisis’ was made. Thus, to solve all these rising problems, software engineering came into limelight.
Where is it helpful?
The whole life cycle of the development of any software is now a giant task. Proper teams are set up to maintain and schedule the development activities for the software to be made in time. Software engineering has numerous benefits if followed properly, but most importantly it makes it easier for the developing companies to develop large scale softwares, helps in properly planning and assign equal time to differently prioritized tasks; all leading to a successful development of a software that is both easy to test and maintain. It also helps in other factors such as scalability, adaptability, cost, dynamic nature and quality management. These terms can be further explored as:
- Scalability: Scalability is the feature of software to cater to as many people as possible; according to the rising demands. Scalable software adapts to change and increases demand. For example; a website allows more customers to visit the site in the busy rushing hours and doesn’t get lagged. Thus, if software is developed following engineering principals, it can be easily upgraded to cater scalability.
- Adaptability: It can be defined as the limit of extent to which the software adapts to its environment. It is the toleration of the software of adapting to the changes around it. And if a software is developed using SE practices, it can easily be categorized as adaptable.
- Cost: Following the normal developing practices which focuses on just getting everything done, and not following a proper procedure can result in HUGE losses if the softwares fails at the end because nothing is linked and altering the software is an immense mess. Thus; if software engineering practices are followed, if a disaster is thought of occurring, the path B may be followed by easily changing the modules as everything is pre-mentioned and back-tracking is easier (via the traceability matrix).
- Dynamic Nature: Because most softwares have dynamic nature, meaning they are in need of constant change and adaptability; fluctuating requirements can create a never solvable clutter. But because software engineering focuses on first gathering the requirements and signing off contracts so that the clients think twice before making an amendment.
- Quality Management: Following a proper set of rules and creating documentation of everything, it will be much easier for the Quality and Assurance (QA) team to debug the software, and the testers can easily backtrack to the root cause of the problem using the traceability matrix, instead of using the brute force approach.
Software Development Life Cycle
The Software development process, also known SDLC consists of some basic steps which must be followed in order to produce High quality softwares. The SDLC goes as Requirements Elicitation -> System Analysis -> Software Design -> Coding -> Testing -> Deployment ->Maintenance. In this process, the first phase, Requirement gathering phase is the most critical and the one on which the most time shall be served at. As if requirements are elicited carelessly, the product will be a definite failure. Thus, one shall not try to move forward onto next phases until this basis first step is ample enough. Once it’s done, system analysis is done to be sure that the requirements elicited are tangible or not. After that, an architecture design gets made which defines all the modules of the final product and cuts back the extra time and confusion which can be later caused. After design, the implementation phase takes place where the actual programming and development of software is done which then gets tested by the QA team. Eventually, after all modules are tested and all requirements are fulfilled, the product is deployed successfully and the developing team shall provide life time maintenance of the product. Some testing can be done AFTER deployment also, which is known as Beta testing (the one done by the actual users).
Once the softwares is developed using a proper Software development life cycle (SDLC) and tested via Software Testing Life Cycle (STLC), it is guaranteed that the software will have the following characteristics which make a software product unique and usable.
The main goals of following a proper SDLC is to end up with softwares which possesses these properties such as software’s efficiency, reliability, maintainability, robustness, usability, user-friendliness, scalability, reusability, portability, flexibility and adaptability etc.
Good practices in Software Engineering:
This article has been constantly talking about software engineering practices. But what in general are those practices? Good Software Engineering practices include:
- Make sure to properly finish one phase of the SDLC before moving onto the next.
- Try to make your products reusable; which saves both time and cost for the future developments.
- The development team shall make sure to not go deeper into inheritances and play smooth with the complexity of the softwares; so that they can be easily modified if needed.
- The testing team shall divide the modules and perform different types of testing like Unit testing -> Integrated testing -> Complete functionality testing. Proper reports with keenly written test cases shall be provided so that the requirements can be easily back traced.
- Proper guidance for the setup should be provided by the team for the clients at the time of deployment.
- If the client faces any issues after deployment, proper maintenance shall be provided as per the contract.
If all these practices are followed along with a proper SDLC, the software developing companies will prosper as with providing trust and honesty factor to its clients along with softwares with the best performance and efficiency.