18 Types of Software Development – Definitions, Examples and Applications
It can be pretty difficult to find the right type of software developer to bring your unique business idea to digital life. That’s because after 2000s, the world has seen rapid technological advancements, resulting in various kinds of software products.
But when you move out in the market to avail a software or app development service, you meet tens of different professionals who have hundreds of different ‘jargons’ to offer.
Because these startup owners don’t know who exactly will build their app, or develop the custom software solution for their ecommerce business, or who will integrate block-chain based payment gateways to their existing financial software program, their innovative ideas just vanish in the thin air.
To make the subject easier, I have covered 18 different software development types and approaches in this article. This list, with examples and applications is meant to help you choose the right software development service for your next million-dollar app idea!
What Is Software Development?
Software development is the process of building any kind of application program that performs a specific function on a specific device. It involves programming the code, testing, debugging, introducing updates and maintaining a software.
There are different types of software programs based on their function, features, scope, size and development approach. Simple computer games like Mario to feature-rich mobile applications like Uber and Instagram are all examples of software programs.
18 Different Types of Software Development – Explained
A quick note: this list has 18 types of software development that distinguish on the basis of device, development side, product type and the integrated technology.
While we have these different types of software development, there are also different types of software developers and engineers who do know the theoretical basics of each type of development, yet have expertise in one or two specific fields.
Types of Software Development According to Devices
1. Web App Development
Web development is the process of creating browser-based applications. It includes everything from coding an application that works on a browser to programming advanced features to maintenance and support.
These apps are hosted on web and need network connection to function. Because these can be accessed and used on web browsers, web applications can run on multiple platforms including desktops, smartphones and tablets.
Why should businesses opt for web app development?
- Sell a product or service via a web app with ecommerce features.
- Improve user engagement and retention.
- Collect data about your target users and send personalized recommendations.
Web development is a broader term. Back-end, front-end and full stack development (covered later in this article) also fall under web app development.
2. Mobile App Development
As the name suggests, mobile app development is the process of building smartphone applications and software programs that run natively on smartphones, typically with Android and iOS operating systems.
With almost every business going digital, the need for mobile app development services is growing exponentially. And to acquire a bigger number of customers, businesses are developing native, as well as hybrid apps that perform similar functions on multiple operating systems.
Considering the functionality and platform orientation in smartphone applications, subtypes of mobile app development have also stemmed out, including: native app development (Android and iOS app development), cross-platform app development, ecommerce app development, social media app development, and so on.
Why should businesses opt for mobile app development?
- Acquire new users and expand your reach.
- Invest in a mobile app to experience higher returns on investment.
- Provide another, electronic outlet to your customers.
- Let your product or service buyers engage with you through smartphones.
Considering the growing importance and commercial values of business apps, mobile app development companies usually have cross-functional teams with business analysts, strategic advisors and project managers alongside developers to guide their clients on how to make money with business apps.
3. Desktop Software Development
Desktop software development refers to creating applications and software programs that work on desktop and laptop devices with Windows, Mac or Linux.
Unlike web apps, these software solutions are stored on the local storage of a computer and does not usually require network connection for major functionality. Most of the desktop software programs (except video games) are developed to facilitate desktop users: individuals, professionals and businesses.
Desktop software developers commonly use Java, C++, C# and Python for developing these computer programs. Microsoft Office is the most common example of desktop software development.
Why should businesses opt for desktop software development?
Desktop software development is ideal for companies who offer offline services and dashboard analytics products.
- Process your users’ real time data.
- Show them on-screen real time analytics.
Types of Software Development According to Development Tiers
4. Front-end Development
Front-end development is process of creating the on-screen app features that an end-user interacts with. Programming the functions and workflow of the user interface is one of the major tasks in front-end development.
While back-end development is for server-side, front-end development is called the client-side development as well.
If you see the structural side of an application program, front-end is the top layer of development and comes before API and back-end in the software development lifecycle. API is the middle layer and back-end is the last. Though, front-end, back-end, full-stack and API developers working together is still the best practice in the industry.
Though front-end developers aren’t required to design an application or software program (that’s what web designers do), their role requires them to strike the right balance between technology, design, programming and usability. That’s why, front-end developers work closely with designers, back-end developers, and especially Flutter developers so their on-screen features work similarly on multiple platforms.
5. Back-end Development
Back-end development is the process of coding and programming the server-side of a software. Back-end developers then create the core functional foundation of any application or program.
As the name suggests, back-end is actually the back side of computer program or a mobile app that an end-user doesn’t see or interact with, but the major functionality and performance of a product depends on how robust the back-end is.
The features, for example saving data and fetching results are the technical specifications of back-end development. If an app or computer program suddenly or repeatedly crashes while running, know that there are problems with the code in the back-end development of the program.
Back-end development ensures that the data (a user feeds in the front-end / screen of an application) is stored, returned correctly, and exchanged with the relevant functions in the program. Therefore, back-end development also involves a big chunk of database management too.
6. API Development
API development is the process of building and maintaining the middle layer between the front-end and back-end of the program.
API abbreviated as Application Programming Interface is the intermediary between the front-end features and back-end code of application programs. These are sets of code and instructions that allow flow of information between internal and external access points. Therefore, API development ensures smooth communication between these layers, plus it ensures seamless exchange of data and information with third-party tools and applications.
Learn more about API Development.
7. Full Stack Development
Full stack development is a process of building the front-end and back-end of applications, as well as debugging the applications.
Theoretically, full stack development includes everything done to develop a software program from bottom up: building the client-side and server-side, and joining them through APIs, then testing the applications for bugs and crashes.
Types of Software Development By Product
8. Game Development
Game development is the process of creating video gaming applications. Because games have specific concepts, they require software and code (set of instructions) that perform the predefined functions in a game environment.
Game development involves steps like concept generation, defining the front-end game features, programming the back-end game code, testing the game product and releasing it in the market.
Game developers can undertake different game approaches depending on the device they are developing the game for. The technical specification differs if those games are designed for desktops for offline functionality, or as web applications for online game participation, or for smartphones.
Also, games can be created via the cloud computing development method and can be hosted on game streaming services.
Learn more about how to make a mobile game.
9. Software Tools Development
Software tools development is the process of building parts of programs, kits and related tools that other professionals can use for creating, maintaining or testing their computer and mobile applications.
In software tools development process, a professional programmer does create smaller software, that can be used as parts of other programs or mobile apps. From a logical standpoint, these tools and kits themselves are software program made of code, yet limited to their core functionality. Their target end-users are not software users, but other software developers.
Common software tool development examples include penetration testing kits, Android and iOS SDKs. In fact, Flutter, a modern software development kit brought by Google is also a software development tool.
10. Security Engineering
Security engineering also referred to as security system development and security software development is the process of building cybersecurity tools, frameworks, and penetration kits for an organizations’ overall network and IT infrastructure.
Cybersecurity engineering involves sub-functions like penetration testing (aka ethical hacking), data breach security management, and information system management. Security engineers, or cybersecurity specialists have one core objective: to protect the internal technical infrastructure of any organization from external, malicious attacks.
Considering the core objective of security development, logically, this field of software development is one of the most sensitive and one with an expansive scope.
Why should businesses opt for security development?
- Protect your organization’s IT and network infrastructure from hacking attempts.
- Strengthen the security and privacy of your organizational data.
- Audit, evaluate and improve the security standards of your hardware and software.
11. Cloud Computing Development
Cloud computing and development is the process of building applications and software programs that are stored on a network of computers over the internet – and not on the typical local storage of devices.
Traditional software programs are developed and stored on the hard drive or other storage media devices of computers, let’s say. And that’s where cloud computing makes a difference.
Cloud computing allows the end users to utilize the application program in any way they want, however, the program is not on their specific hardware, and rather on a remote computer connected through the internet.
SaaS products and media storage software programs are the most common examples of clouding computing development. Dropbox, Google Drive, and Hubspot’s CRM and marketing software programs are leading cloud-based applications.
In fact, pretty much every software program we use online these days, like video conferencing tool Zoom, task management program Trello and payment processor Square are all results of cloud computing.
Why should businesses opt for cloud software development?
- Avail or offer software services to your clients.
- Subscribe to a software tool without paying the full price.
12. Database Development
Database development is the process of analyzing data requirements and building newer systems and subsystems that will utilize the relevant collected data. In database development, engineers design fully functional data operation systems and it’s usually practiced in data-driven organizations – marketing companies and financial organizations.
Database development, though is a type of software development, it is more of an approach followed to automate the utilization of operational data and minimize dependence on human personnel for processing such data.
Therefore, in database development, engineers initiate by setting requirements for data collection and utilization. Then, they build infrastructures that automatically gather data based on the defined organizational principles, then classify, analyze and take further actions.
Some users do get confused between database administration and database development. Know that the former only involves management and security of data, while other involves building an application that automates overall utilization of data within an organization.
13. Embedded Systems Development
Embedded systems development is the process of building applications and software programs that run on unconventional hardware and not on traditional computers and laptop devices. These hardware devices that use embedded systems are connected to Wi-Fi and work in a network.
Take example of smart home devices, thermostats and alarm systems that run on Wi-Fi. These hardware devices are different from traditional computer, yet still require software to function.
Digital cameras, DVD and music players, medical equipment and smart home systems are examples of embedded system development.
Types Of Software Development By Integration Technology
14. IoT Software Development
IOT software development is a process of building software programs that connect different devices to work together. This involves creating access points that exchange data to and from other hardware and software.
Quite related to embedded systems development, IoT development allows connections and flow of information within a network of routine use hardware. That’s why, IoT software development often contains code that work as sensors and transmit real time performance data between devices.
In embedded systems, developers create standalone software programs to make unconventional hardware work, while IoT is an advanced application of these systems where multiple embedded subsystems work together to make a bigger system.
Smart home settings are the most prominent example of IoT software development. An alarm software processes time for a user’s entry inside the home, meanwhile the connected IoT software switches on the AC or heater to prepare the room environment for a user.
15. Block-chain development
Block-chain development is the process of building software programs that solely or partly utilize blockchain technology and cryptocurrency. Considering the growing commercial value of different cryptocurrencies, startup owners and enterprise level businesses have started integrating blockchain technology into their business operations.
Applications like MetaMask and Binance are common examples of blockchain development. Tech world is now seeing mobile applications that use cryptocurrency and blockchain strings as a payment gateway to facilitate receipt and transfer of payments globally.
Why should businesses opt for blockchain development?
- Send and receive payments from around the world at lower transaction cost.
- Give an alternate, additional payment method to your clients.
- Leverage the growing value of Ethereum coins and make capital gains.
- Enjoy decentralized ledger of your business transactions.
Learn more about how to make your own cryptocurrency token.
16. VR Software Development
VR Software development is the process of building mobile apps, web apps and desktop programs that use virtual reality (artificial 3D) environments. Ecommerce virtual shopping applications and training programs use VR integration modules so that end-users can virtually ‘live’ the environment.
VR/AR games are the most common example of VR software development.
Why should businesses opt for VR development?
- Give an enhanced shopping experience to your clients.
- Let them test and try your products and services in virtual reality.
Types of Software Development By Development Approach
17. Lean Software Development
Lean software development is process in which product is of core focus. According to this approach, the resulting software program should be cost-effective, built in the stipulated time and strictly sticks to the original software development plan in terms of its functions and features.
18. Agile Software Development
Agile software development is a software development approach in which ‘process’ and ‘workflow’ are the core focus. Further, it emphasizes more on value addition and allows flexibility to improve a software during the process.
Software programs developed through agile methodology are more customer-centric, while products made in lean methodology are technically complete and error-free.
As classified in this article, you can look at software development and software products from different technical standpoints and approaches. So, you can’t really look at a software product and decide which category it should strictly fall in.
While service businesses create and capitalize cloud computing software programs, business owners go for custom software development to have full control of their digital asset and data.
At TekRevol, because our motto is to revolutionize the business ecosystem, we follow modern app development methods, and our teams use a mixture of these development types, technologies, tools and approaches based on the nature of the product we want to create and the type of target users our software products cater to.
Also, we look into several other factors when deciding on a certain method which includes development time required by a project, the feature complexity, the platform orientation, the cost of the product and much more.
- Interested in Software Development for your Business?
- Have a unique, million-dollar app idea? Partner with us to make it a digital success story!
Frequently Asked Questions:
1. What is software development?
Software development is the process of developing, programming, testing and debugging computer programs and applications
2. What is software development lifecycle?
Software development lifecycle is a systematic procedure that software and app development companies use to create a full software program or application. This involves managing a software project in a cost-effective and time-bound method. The software development lifecycle, though is continuous process, yet it starts with discovery or project scoping and the last stage is testing and maintenance.
3. Who is in charge of software application development teams?
Usually, head project managers or full stack developers are the in charge of software application development teams. But the roles and designations can differ based on the size, scope and complexity of application projects.
4. Why is a quality assurance tester needed on a software development team?
Quality assurance testers are responsible for user acceptance and functionality testing. In the software development team, they identify bugs, crashes and any other glitches in the functionality and appearance of software and ensure correction and improvement of the software.
5. What is wireframe in software development?
Though wireframing is a core part of designing, it is the process of sketching or preparing initial diagrams of the software or application’s user interface. This is exactly how a program or app will look on the screen of the user.
Author : Saba Sohail
Saba Sohail is a tech enthusiast with academic majors in Economics and Information Sciences. A content writer by day, her favorite niches are cybersecurity, graphics, and digital marketing. She dedicates her free time to The Big Bang Theory, hoping to achieve an IQ like Sheldon Cooper some day!
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