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What is software development?
Software Development is a broad topic that covers the full life cycle of a computer program. To clarify, software is the programs that a computer reads and translates and the user interacts with. Software complements hardware, which is the physical items that facilitate the use of software. The software development process begins with a problem that needs to be solved.
For example, how to get a computer to communicate with a printer so that the printer can do its job. Another problem could be, I am bored, and I would like a computer game to play. Once the problem is identified, programmers set to work analyzing the problem and translating it into a computer program. It is wise to spend significant time analyzing the problem and to develop a set of goals. With the problem analyzed and goals in place, software developers begin to code the programs that will accomplish these goals.
With a first draft of the software completed, it is time to test the software and make sure it does in fact solve the problem that was initially proposed. Does the printer now print? Do we have a fun game? It is extremely likely that by the time a first draft has been accomplished, new problems or ideas for improvements have shown up.
Perhaps the printer jams up more than it should, or the game gets dull after a few levels. The second round of development begins, sometimes with different goals than the first round of development. Again, the issues are analyzed and programmers attempt to solve them. The cycle continues until the developers or satisfied or run out of money.
After the programmers are satisfied, they will deploy their final draft to more testers and marketers. These people may request other changes or tweaks to the software. With any final in house concerns alleviated, the software will be distributed to the end user.
The software development process is not completed just yet, however. The software should be maintained over time when issues are discovered. On a project of significant size, it is probable that some inherent bugs slipped past all of the testing. These bugs will need to be addressed and fixed with 'patches' that the software developers can release over time. Beyond bugs in the program at release, other problems will emerge as the software and hardware that the product interacts with will change and evolve.
A new type of ink may be released so that it is necessary to update the printer software to accommodate the new ink. It may be that an intermediate piece of software is updated, such as the word processor the user is printing from.
The communication the printing software used to reach the word processor may become useless, though there was no problem with the printing software originally, if the word processor is updated in such a way that it stops listening to the printer software.
The development will need to address these concerns if their software is to survive. The software can be abandoned, but up to that point, the development process never really ends.