Five Popular Custom Software Development Models
It’s undeniable that the market for software development is vast, with many companies budgeting as much as $1.5 million over a 12 to 18 month period for custom application creation.
There is a wide variety of methodologies and processes when it comes to fulfilling that demand, and each one brings its own set of values to the table.
The methodologies vary in scope with regard to the way they approach planning, testing, and execution of the development process. And while each particular model has its own fanatical adherents, two of them are head and shoulders above the rest when it comes to adoption.
In this article, we’ll examine the various methodologies used in five popular custom software development models and how they work.
Software Development Models
In an effort to constantly remain congruent with programming necessities of the day, varying software models have emerged and evolved over time. Methodologies have a tendency to shift in line with trends and forecasts, not to mention gravitating toward what is considered the “popular” way of developing applications.
Indeed, there is no clearly-defined preferred methodology. What works for one developer or firm may not be appropriate for another. Still, it’s interesting to note which methods are currently in favor and which ones have been relatively left behind.
Let’s take a look at the common software development models.
Agile. The agile development model has been likened anywhere from a methodology to a movement. While it has been around for decades, most practitioners of this method are fairly recent adopters.
It’s popularity certainly can’t be called into question, having emerged as a methodology of choice according to a recent survey. A pure agile model is favored by 16% of respondents, with 51% leaning toward it.
What makes agile so appealing is its reliance on a set of principles revolving around collaboration and cross-functional teams. As stated in the Agile Manifesto, it focuses on “individuals and interactions over processes and tools”, and relies on a set of 12 core principles outlining collaborative best practices for software development.
These guiding principles range from providing customer satisfaction to building projects around sustainability to welcoming and embracing changing development conditions.
A key difference between agile and other methods, particularly waterfall, lies in its approach to testing. With agile, testing is done at the same stage as programming, for example, while other methodologies employ rigid and compartmentalized iterations.
Overall, agile’s flexibility, adaptability and repudiation of traditional software development models make it an appealing choice for the latest generation of developers.
Waterfall. Early iterations of the waterfall method appeared on the scene as early as the 1950s with it being formally codified several decades later. It’s a much more traditional, sequential approach to development that still remains the dominant development method despite agile’s meteoric rise of late.
In fact, a survey of developers reveals that 79% rely on a derivative methodology called “fast waterfall”, noting that while it’s viewed as a more conservative approach it still has its legions of fans.
With waterfall, steps in the development process are firmly and sequentially laid out ranging from laying out the requirements through design implementation, verification and implementation. New steps can only be actioned once the previous stage has been completed in a downward direction mimicking a waterfall.
The predictable schedules and workflows allow for tight deadlines and an exacting amount of design and implementation discipline. It’s considered to be exceptionally well-organized as opposed to the seemingly semi-chaotic nature of agile.
Waterfall is not without its limitations. With a firm reliance on pushing testing to the end of the process, there’s very little proactive adaptability build into the system. As well, with customers unable to view working prototypes until the end there is a higher risk of client rejection.
Despite this, alongside agile, it remains one of the dominant methodologies and is likely to stay that way for some time.
Spiral development. The spiral model incorporates four phases into the process, taking a concentric or “spiral” approach to completing the application development. The four spirals include planning, risk analysis, engineering, and evaluation.
Its approach appeals to developers dealing with large projects with a large amount of inherent risk, as a robust risk analysis is conducted at the beginning. This helps to mitigate the dangers and the iterations have a fair amount of flexibility.
However, it’s advantage can be a weakness as the exhaustive risk assessment phase can be costly to implement and will likely determine whether or not the project is ultimately successful.
Extreme programming. Considered a variant of agile programming, the extreme process features very short cycles that seek to speed up and improve the responsiveness of application development.
Extreme takes a layered approach, usually starting with a pared-down code and adding features later in the process. Programming is typically done in pairs while extensive code reviews are recognized as being integral to the development phase.
Rapid application development. The RAD approach, as the name suggests, puts a greater emphasis on the actual development process than the planning phase.
It’s considered to be a less-rigid expression of the waterfall model, with more built-in flexibility and adaptability. It’s known to be useful for speedy product delivery; however, it does have the disadvantages of sometimes resulting in poorly-designed applications due to a lack of emphasis on planning.
These software development models represent a fraction of the whole. Not only are there many other processes out there, each method listed above has its own list of factions and derivatives, making for a large playing field.
While the traditionally-oriented waterfall method has historically remained the go-to software development method, agile and its many derivatives are on the cusp of taking over. Agile’s inherent flexibility, collaborativeness and make it a development model to watch.