Software development uses a planned and structured process to develop software products. ‘ Software Development’ involves writing the code. This is used to produce a software. However, often the process of software development includes steps like, developing the concept of the software, designing the software through to the last stage of development, and then finally handing over the tested software to the client. There are different models that serve to develop software. They include, the waterfall model, spiral model, prototype model, incremental model, agile model, etc.
The term agile stands for ‘moving quickly’. Agile development model is well known for its quick adaptability to the changing realities. It is a lightweight software development model. This was prepared in the 1990s’.
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The delivery of the software is performed at regular intervals, as opposed to months. This is the case with the waterfall model. The measure of progress used in agile modeling, is the different working models delivered to the client. Since the software is developed in small batches, changes can easily be fed into the product. There is a lot of emphasis laid on technical excellence and good layout of the software. The software development team has to adapt regularly to the changing circumstances.
Traditional modeling methods in software development projects have given way to the agile practices. These are implemented in a more flexible manner. It supplements the different agile methodologies like extreme programming, scrum models, and agile unified process.
The more common and modern SDLC is called Agile. Within Agile there are several different methodologies including XP (Extreme Programming), Scrum, Agile Modeling, Agile Unified Process, Kanban, and quite a few more. This form of software development has been approved by many top name software development shops and is now the most common method.
Software development is normally done with a team of people ranging in size from three to hundreds. The size of the piece of software will generally determine the extent of the team. Larger projects with very large teams are prone to failure. The failure of large projects is another reason why Agile software development has grown in popularity. Most Agile methodologies advocate for releasing software with what is referred to as minimal marketable features. The likelihood of failure is greatly reduced by releasing as soon as possible.
The first and the foremost stage in the development process is the requirement definition. The customer needs are made available to the development team. This communication should be clear, so that there’s no ambiguity left while developing the software.
Once the needs are well understood, the team sets their expected outputs. After the software has been developed, these expectations should match with the actual results.
As is the case with any project development, the next stage in the agile model is planning. The team leader, The product owner, and the development team brainstorm over the expectations, and the action programme for developing the software is designed.
The development process starts based on the planning. This is termed as the first iteration. The code is functionally tested, deployed and quality checks are done. After demonstration, if the results don’t match the expected ones, then the next iteration starts.
However, if the code is according to the expected results and it satisfies customer needs, then the unit testing takes place and the software is released.
The model is built on four values. These are essential for making the development process function smoothly, and give the desired end result. The four values are; communication, simplicity, feedback, and courage.
There is always a difference between what the developer creates, and what is commercially viable. And when we’re referring to agile model, where slightest of changes are incorporated quickly, it is necessary to bridge this gap at the earlier. The smallest of miscommunication can delay the entire project for days. Thus, communicating the needs of the project properly to the entire team of developers is very important. For this purpose, the model suggests the technique of pair programming, where two programmers work in collaboration to build the software. The aspect of unit testing can also turn out to be fruitful, only when the feedback is communicated properly to the developers.
The second value is simplicity. It is human nature to become overambitious when we work on an important project. But the key to success, according to agile model, is to hold it simple. The reason behind keeping the model simple is that the changes can be easily incorporated, without wasting a lot of time. Complex models will consume a lot of time even when subjected to smallest of changes.
The 3rd and the most important value is feedback. It is near impossible to be aware of the drawbacks of the software that has been prepared without a proper feedback system. As and when developers receive feedback, they immediately try to make the necessary changes. These changes put forward a sample image of the new software model that will be developed.
The last value is courage. Courage, in this context, is the capacity to respond to the feedback, in the proper manner. The entire development team should work together to achieve the targets, even though it means rewriting the entire code or simply making minor changes. The members should trust the other and also the customers, so that continuous improvements can be carried out in the project.
Values and principles go hand in hand. The first principle on which the model is developed is to provide useful, effective, and timely feedback. If you run out of milk powder while making a glass of coffee, it is important to provide this feedback immediately, else it will take no importance. Such a feedback will ensure that timely action is taken. Such open points are resolved immediately.
The next important principle is the incremental change. It means that the team will continuously make small changes as and when they come across any error. This will verify that the developers don’t have a lot of changes that are to be referred to, at the end of the project. Also, such changes will keep on taking place, even after the project is completed.
Welcome changing requirements, even late in development. Agile processes harness change for the customer’s competitive advantage. This is a declaration of attitude. The participants in an agile process aren’t afraid of change. They view changes to the requirements as good things, because those changes mean that the team has learned more about what it will take to meet the customer. An agile team works very hard to maintain the structure of its software flexible, so that when requirements change, the impact to the network is minimal.
The third principle is the encouragement of quality work. All the work that is being carried out in the development process should be appreciated. Such an appreciation will keep the employees motivated and thus, they’ll work enthusiastically to make the project a success.
Workersactually use and work with what we develop. Or, if we’re the preparation of a new product, they’ll be making it in production. The details of how their work will change, and the problems of learning the new tools or system are a central focus.
The last principle is to welcome change. While working on this model, it is extremely important to be open to changes and suggestions. There can be a position where the trade-off between changes and suggestions takes place, however, it may still require to receive a few changes.
Welcome changing requirements, even late in development. Agile processes harness change for the customer’s competitive advantage.
Even though, there are many principles for agile model, the only important aspect that all of them focus on is the correct approach that the developer needs to take while developing the project.
The most important benefit of this model is the capacity to respond to the changing requirements of the project. This ensures that the initiatives of the development team aren’t wasted. This is often the case with the other methodologies. The changes are integrated immediately. This saves trouble later. There is no guesswork between the development team and the customer, as there is face-to-face communication and continuous inputs from the client. The culmination of this situation is that a high quality software is handed over to the client in the shortest period of time, and leaves the customer satisfied.
If the projects are comparative smaller, then using the agile model is certainly profitable. But, if it is a major project, then it is difficult to judge the efforts and the time needed for the project, in the development life cycle. Since the requirements are ever-changing, there is hardly any emphasis. This is laid on designing and documentation. Therefore, chances of the project going off the track easily are much more. The added problem is if the customer representative isn’t sure, then the probability of the project going off-track increases manifold. Only senior developers are in best position to take the decisions necessary for the agile type of development. This leaves hardly any place for an inexperienced programmers.
Scrum process focuses on delivering the highest business output, in the shortest period of time. The inspection and verification of software takes place very frequently, in about every two weeks to one month.
As the inspection and verification is done so frequently, the working of the software can be seen and judged. Depending on its working, and upon verification of actual results with the expected ones, the business unit can decide on continuing with the iteration or not. If the results aren’t satisfactory enough, the business unit always has an option of going to the following iteration. In each iteration, the product is developed, tested, and demonstrated.
The people involved in this process are; the product owner, scrum team, client, and scrum master. They play a very important part in the development process. The product owner is zero but the stakeholder who defines content, the features, and release time of the product. He is the one responsible to write user stories (customer requirements), and then add them to the product backlog. These user stories are documents that are written without any formal method or administrative allegations.
Thus, the response given to user requirements is faster. The scrum master is responsible for removing impediments, and is worded as it represents the management in the project. He ensures that the team adheres to scrum values and principles. The scrum team is a cross functional one with designers, programmers, UI Designers, testers, etc. The team is involved from design of the project to the software release stage.
The main disadvantage of this model is the absence of formal documentation. The unavailability of physical records, makes it hard to keep a track of the changes made in each iteration.
Another agile software development methodology is ‘Extreme programming’. This method focuses on customer satisfaction, by incorporating frequent changes in the design process. The need to meet the customer requirements is of paramount importance, despite the fact that the changes are made much later in the life cycle.
Out of the 12 core practices of XP; pair programming, unit testing of small releases, the code, and collective code ownership are the prominent ones. The XP method emphasizes on releasing even the smallest feature set, at the earliest. Any changes in the features are later considered. The code is changed accordingly. All the codes are written by two programmers, and so, no single programmer can claim authority for the same. Employees are always advised to keep the 40-hour work week schedule, without spending extra time on the project.
Agile model testing is carried out from the standpoint of the end user. No emphasis is laid on the rigid testing procedures. However, the focus is rather on conducting the tests iteratively on the newly developed software component. Regression tests are likewise carried out on the entire software, to check if any new bugs were fed into the software. In the agile testing model, the focus shifts from ‘testers as quality watchdog’ to ‘the entire team quality watchdog’.
As the behalf of the testing methodology suggests, testers have to adapt themselves to rapid development cycles, and make the required changes to the test suite. In this software testing type, the purpose is to test from the viewpoint of the customer, as early as possible during the development process. Because the testers are involved early on in the entire process of software development, they give the necessary information, feedback and suggestions to the development team, rather than giving them after the development came to the final stages.
Agile model has provided the software development process an effective and practice-based methodology. Therefore, the principle ‘maximize stakeholder value ‘, can actually be called into practice, leaving the customer satisfied and happy.