No matter if you are writing a multi-million dollar operating system or quick mobile app, there is a well known process to build computer software. The whole goal of the process is to create software as quickly as possible while at the same time make sure that it does what is needed without too many bugs. There are many ideas in computer science on which is the best technologies to build software from using programming languages like Java to web rapid development tools. But almost every software development follows certain time honored steps to build the computer software.
- Decide on what needs to be built: This step is also called gathering requirement. It is hard to build software if you do not know what it needs to do. In this step the goal is to figure out and document everything that you want the software to do. Often times it is impossible to do everything you want all at once and you will have to break the software up into different releases. This allows you to break up the project into manageable chunks as well as allows you to get the first release out quicker.
- Figure out when you are done: This is also called creating an acceptance criteria. Many software programs never get finished because the programmers did not know if they are done or not. So it is very important to document what the software needs to do to be called done based on the requirements. These acceptance criteria are often expressed as tests which can be run so that the programmers can measure their progress.
- Design the software: Software design can be simple notes on what needs to be done to complex diagrams specifying how each piece of code will be written. Well designed software will save time during coding because it prevents code that is not needed or code that does not work with other parts of the software. It is much quicker and cheaper to design software right the first time than to have to go back re-code it multiple times.
- Code the software: This where the rubber hits the road and it is the most important end product. All of the other steps are just leading up to programming and if this does not work, you have nothing. For programming, use whatever technology best suits your needs and with which you are most comfortable. The most important parts of this stage is to build quality software and document what you did so that you can go back and fix any problems or upgrade the software later.
- Test the software: Testing is critical to determine if the software works or not. Use the test created from the acceptance criteria to see if it does all that you need. If there are problems, go back and fix the bugs. Once all of the acceptance tests are passed, you are done. Congratulations, you have built your own computer software.