Without software, we couldn't use our computers, smartphones, or tablets. From the operating systems on which our hardware runs to the games you download and play when you can't sleep at night, it's the thing that makes the digital world such an integral part of our lives, and people are creating new software every day. An Android developer creates apps so you can shop on your phone, software designers create programs you can use to do your banking, and businesses formulate their own software for everything from accounting to digital marketing.
If you know a little bit about computer science and programming, you can even learn how to create a computer program from scratch with practice and a course or two from the Udacity Catalog. But first, it's important to know the steps that go into creating software. The process is called the software development life cycle (SDLC), and it's usually broken down into six or seven steps that start with an idea and end with implementation, testing, and maintenance.
Step 1: Planning
It all starts with an idea the software designer comes up with to fulfill a need, whether it's a general idea or a specific request from a client or employer. After that, everyone involved with the process starts brainstorming and laying out a blueprint for the software. There may be some back and forth between team members about what will and won't work.
Step 2: Analysis
Once the plan is laid out, it's time to analyze it. During this portion of the SDLC, each team member or the software developer goes through the plan. They determine whether every aspect of it will work within the constraints of timing, budget, and expected function.
Step 3: Design
Once it's determined that the software idea is feasible, it's time to design it. This is the second-most involved stage of the SDLC. It entails creating the software's features, determining what type of hardware runs it, and laying out detailed specifications.
Step 4: Coding
Once the software developer has designed the product, it's time for the software programmers to come in and write the code to make it a reality. This is the most involved stage of the cycle and typically requires the most time.
Step 5: Testing
Of course, no one is going to send brand new software out into the world without a little quality control. During the testing phase, experts run through the software in search of bugs or errors. They're fixed, and testing begins again until the software runs smoothly.
Step 6: Implementation
This is when real-world customers begin using and testing the software. These beta users can experiment and report back to the software development team if they run into any issues.
Step 7: Maintenance
Once the SDLC is complete, it's time to offer it for sale to the general public. Most companies and developers provide customer support and regular updates and upgrades throughout the life cycle of the software.