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The steps in the software engineering process include requirements analysis, functional specification, software architecture development, software design and implementation, also known as coding. These steps are followed by testing, deployment and maintenance. There are a number of software development models that commingle these steps, but the models all incorporate these procedures. This list of steps implies that software is created in a step-by-step manner, which is true when one considers beginning-to-end software development, but it frequently is necessary to backtrack and repeat the procedures. Thus, there might be cycles in software engineering that change the order in which the steps occur or cause steps to be repeated.
The software engineering process can be viewed as an engineering process: gather information, analyze, design, implement, improve, deploy and maintain. To put this more simply, a software developer would ask, imagine, plan, create, improve, use and fix. An easy way for one to remember these steps is to create a saying such as, “Ask imaginative planners — creativity improves useful features.”
During the requirements phase, it is important to define exactly what the problem is or what the software will be required to do. Gathering information by asking pertinent questions of all concerned parties is paramount to a smooth development cycle during the software engineering process. Problem analysis is often blended with information gathering so that a complete understanding of the requirements can be obtained.
When the requirements of the software have been finalized, a number of design processes must occur. Issues such as inputs, outputs, functionality, algorithm design, software architecture and module integration are addressed during the design phase. Analysis is often performed during this time to ensure that software runs efficiently.
After the software has been designed, it must be implemented. This is accomplished by programming or coding the design specifications into files called source code. Company policy or software requirements typically determine the programming language that is used. Compiling software is used during this phase of the software engineering process to convert source code into an executable program.
When the program has been created, it is important for one to make sure that it runs and functions correctly. The testing phase of the software engineering process ensures that the program meets quality standards and functional criteria. Once testing is complete, the program can be given to users.
During the deployment phase of the software engineering process, users might need to be trained. Documentation must also be created so that users can utilize the program properly. After the software has been deployed, there normally will be corrections and adjustment made to the program. This is the maintenance phase. Sometimes new features are requested and added during this phase.
Creating software can be a straightforward process. The general steps involved are essentially the same as those used in general engineering. The software engineering process has become more complex, and this trend is likely to hold true as the methods used to engineer software evolve.