Whether it’s software development in UK or elsewhere, the process involves a few basic rules that are common to all projects. The phases of the lifecycle are a prime example. From gathering requirements to undergoing final implementation, such components are a norm for any type of software development project. Speaking of lifecycle phases, there is another layer of introspection that needs to be added in order to make the application you eventually build a sustainable one. This might sound like things are being made more complicated than they already are, for even the most minuscule of projects are complicated ones.
So what gives? In due course of delivering and repeating, many hiccups that could have otherwise been eliminated from the very beginning tend to repeatedly occur. In turn, this can significantly compromise the overall quality and workability of your software. Behind the scenes, the project lifecycle can also manifest itself into an operation that is complex and difficult to understand, thereby giving both existing and newcomer developers much trouble whenever they need to take over. Software design principles, as a result, focus on establishing an integral foundation that assures versatility and scalability – no matter what changes, and however often. It also maintains software that is ever-evolving and evergreen, thereby reducing the likelihood of (if not completely eliminating) legacy software.
Aside from the conventional software development lifecycle, the foundation of principles pertaining to software design introduces a plethora of advantages. Additionally, these advantages also address concerns from a 360-degree perspective, therefore offering optimum leverage that’s holistic as it is intuitive. Read on below to know just what some of these principles are.
In case you’re wondering, software design principles should not be confused with product design, or the actual phase of design within the software development lifecycle. These are 2 different components which serve different needs when it comes to building any piece of software. For clarification, software design principles strive to offer your overall project lifecycle a foundation to assure sustainability. On the other hand, product design or the design phase of your lifecycle aims to visualize how your application will look like.
In other words, the former affects the entire lifecycle, while the latter only focuses on one individual phase of the entire project. The principles outlined below are by no means exhaustive. They may change, or be added/removed depending on the unique needs of your project.
Whether you’re newly embarking on building your software, or have been at it for a long time, there is always a learning curve associated with the product you are developing. Likewise, your software design principles also depend on the insight your team gathers with every iteration, to improve your digital product. With reference to software design principles in particular, perpetual research and analysis can be segmented into 3 major components.
It is easy to get caught up with the nitty-gritty of each process, without realizing the effect that this can have in the grand scheme of things. On top of that, it is particularly easy to lose sight of the objectives that need to be attained via the software that is being developed or maintained. Long-term projects are more prone to this, especially if more elements are added to the mix. As projects get more intricate, your team may be susceptible to only focusing on individual elements at hand, instead of strategically thinking about how these need to be integrated with other working components to complement the entire product.
Therefore, it is important to always take a step back and look at the big picture. This may even seem counter-productive at first, since you may need to briefly halt what you are doing and make all-round observations of what lies at hand vs. how it needs to be incorporated into the product for optimum value. At the end of the day, your software exists to deliver a certain product or service which improves the lives of your users, while being a crucial source of income for your business. It is imperative to not lose sight of this fundamental goal, no matter how intricate your application grows to be.
It may be viable to perceive a small project as one big working operation – but this is as far as it goes. On top of that, even the smallest projects have the tendency to expand over time. If you’re looking to develop something on a long-term basis, this becomes even more apparent, and also more complex to handle. As a result, developing software as one big working chunk is seldom going to prove viable. So it is crucial to break the overarching project into smaller, bite-sized pieces. This provides a multitude of advantages, especially from a maintenance standpoint. For one, developing each module independently will support faster turnaround times. In turn, this can transfer over to a working product that is released much quicker than normal. If each module is provided a layer of abstraction i.e. a clear outline of what the module is supposed to do, new developers who take over if there is a change of team members will be able to understand what needs to be done with better clarity and ease.
In the event of a breakdown, troubleshooting by module also offers a more organized route into identifying problem areas. It is more efficient to pinpoint bugs via searching by module, as opposed to investigating problems across one highly intricate moving component. Adding and removing features also becomes more streamlined, as this then translates to adding or removing relevant modules to cater to updates within your application.
With a modular architecture, making amendments becomes less unnerving overall, as the addition/removal/editing of one module won’t affect other modules without prior understanding of why. Conversely, when making a change to one big software operation, errors that erupt may do so abruptly, without any knowledge of where they are originating from. As a result, identifying the source of these errors can prove to be a tedious and confusing operation, causing many more complications in due course of routine updates.
Being able to make one-line amendments to your software’s code for the purpose of improvement is a hallmark sign of quality software, without a doubt. As an AWS partner that constantly strives to leverage our clients’ digital expectations, being mindful about every service that is reserved for their use is also carried out with long-term implications well considered beforehand. While every resource, be it networking, compute or storage is reserved based on each client’s specific needs, it is also given a strategy that is equally specific for the purpose of maximum utilization and best value for money.
Likewise, your software’s code is no exception either. Well before the development phase begins, your development team needs to convene in order to structure a plan that will help build code which is sustainable for a long time to come, and can be transferred over to new developers should the need arise. Ideally, improvements should be made possible over the existing code, by inserting or removing a line or two.
If code needs to be re-written, it is a sign that your code isn’t the most sustainable. This can make your application prone to errors; even if bugs aren’t discovered during the testing phase, they may show up once the product is released and customers begin to use it. On top of that, this can make it confusing (and subsequently disconcerting) for new developers to take over.
Have you ever experienced a complete breakdown of a website, mobile app or proprietary software, so much so that you cannot use it at all? There can be many reasons for something so drastic to happen, but poor code or back-end systems are factors that can be conveniently controlled in this day and age. This can be circumvented in many ways, from modular software architecture (as elaborated above) to error messages that provide users guidance on what they can do in the wake of a breakdown. Risk management is a crucial but underrated constituent in today’s software systems, especially since a fast-paced digital landscape demands record turnaround times and an instant service culture. Aggressive competition leaves no space for gaps of any kind; whether it’s time or the supply of a product/service, it is imperative to continue operations at all times, else lose out on sales.
Enabling sufficient and effective risk management involves trying to first understand the possible sources of a breakdown. While routine malfunctions can cause program crashes, compromised security is also a contributing reason. Cybersecurity is essential these days, as no online presence is spared from the possibility of experiencing a breach. Another aspect is app containerization. This is typically done with resources from a cloud support provider. Containers can be stored in multiple locations with no affect whatsoever to the app’s performance. While these are just some solutions for risk management, the exact initiatives you will need to take depend on your specific software development needs.
As a business owner, you want your online presence to be up to mark. But as you embark on the journey of building your own piece of software, there are a few key things that you need to keep in mind, as you provide your development team with all the information and resources they need. Software development isn’t as straightforward as simply delegating your requirements over to a technology provider, and expecting the best. On top of that, if you’re looking to sustain your online presence over a long-term basis, many more integral variables are further added to the mix.
That is why it is crucial to know what software design principles are, and what they can do for you. Apart from the conventional phases which are dedicated to the software development lifecycle, software design principles aim to regulate how software is built and maintained over a lengthened period of time. From modular app structures to sustainably written code, such rules-of-thumb ensure your software doesn’t only function well, but can evolve with constantly changing user demands and economic climates.