Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC) is a methodology that is typically used to develop, maintain and replace information systems for improving the quality of the software design and development process. The typical phases are analysis, estimation, design, development, integration and testing and implementation. The success of software largely depends on proper analysis, estimation, design and testing before the same is implemented. This article discusses SDLC in detail and provides guidance for building successful software.
Life cycle models describe the interrelationships between software development phases. The common life cycle models are:
throwaway prototyping model
evolutionary prototyping model
reusable software model
automated software synthesis
Because the life cycle steps are described in very general terms, the models are adaptable and their implementation details will vary among different organizations. The spiral model is the most general. Most life cycle models can in fact be derived as special instances of the spiral model. Organizations may mix and match different life cycle models to develop a model more tailored to their products and capabilities.
The Spiral Model
The spiral model is a software development process combining elements of both design and prototyping-in-stages, in an effort to combine advantages of top-down and bottom-up concepts.The spiral model was defined by Barry Boehm in his article A Spiral Model of Software Development and Enhancement from 1985. This model was not the first model to discuss iterative development, but it was the first model to explain why the iteration matters. As originally envisioned, the iterations were typically
6 months to 2 years long.Each phase starts with a design goal and ends with the client (who may be internal) reviewing the progress thus far. Analysis and engineering efforts are applied at each phase of the project, with an eye toward the end goal of the project.
1. The new system requirements are defined in as much detail as possible. This usually involves interviewing a number of users representing all the external or internal users and other aspects of the existing system.
2.A preliminary design is created for the new system.
3.A first prototype of the new system is constructed from the preliminary design. This is usually a scaled-down system, and represents an approximation of the characteristics of the final product.
4. A second prototype is evolved by a fourfold procedure:
1. evaluating the first prototype in terms of its strengths, weaknesses, and risks;
2. defining the requirements of the second prototype;
3. planning and designing the second prototype;
4. constructing and testing the second prototype.
5. At the customer's option, the entire project can be aborted if the risk is deemed too great. Risk factors might involve development cost overruns, operating-cost miscalculation, or any other factor that could, in the customer's judgment, result in a less-than-satisfactory final product.
6. The existing prototype is evaluated in the same manner as was the previous prototype, and, if necessary, another prototype is developed from it according to the fourfold procedure outlined above.
7.The preceding steps are iterated until the customer is satisfied that the refined prototype represents the final product desired.
8. The final system is constructed, based on the refined prototype.
The incremental model is an intuitive approach to the waterfall model. Multiple development cycles take place here, making the life cycle a “multi-waterfall” cycle. Cycles are divided up into smaller, more easily managed iterations. Each iteration passes through the requirements, design, implementation and testing phases.
A working version of software is produced during the first iteration, so you have working software early on during the software life cycle. Subsequent iterations build on the initial software produced during the first iteration.
Just like the waterfall model, the V-Shaped life cycle is a sequential path of execution of processes. Each phase must be completed before the next phase begins. Testing is emphasized in this model more so than the waterfall model though. The testing procedures are developed early in the life cycle before any coding is done, during each of the phases preceding implementation.
The high-level design phase focuses on system architecture and design. An integration test plan is created in this phase as well in order to test the pieces of the software systems ability to work together.
The implementation phase is, again, where all coding takes place. Once coding is complete, the path of execution continues up the right side of the V where the test plans developed earlier are now put to use.
Software life cycle models describe phases of the software cycle and the order in which those phases are executed. There are tons of models, and many companies adopt their own, but all have very similar patterns. The general, basic model is shown below:
General Life Cycle
REQUIRMENT DESIGN IMPLEMENTATION TESTING
Each phase produces deliverables required by the next phase in the life cycle. Requirements are translated into design. Code is produced during implementation that is driven by the design. Testing verifies the deliverable of the implementation phase against requirements.
Business requirements are gathered in this phase. This phase is the main focus of the project managers and stake holders. Meetings with managers, stake holders and users are held in order to determine the requirements. Who is going to use the system? How will they use the system? What data should be input into the system? What data should be output by the system? These are general questions that get answered during a requirements gathering phase. This produces a nice big list of functionality that the system should provide, which describes functions the system should perform, business logic that processes data, what data is stored and used by the system, and how the user interface should work. The overall result is the system as a whole and how it performs, not how it is actually going to do it.
The software system design is produced from the results of the requirements phase. Architects have the ball in their court during this phase and this is the phase in which their focus lies. This is where the details on how the system will work is produced. Architecture, including hardware and software, communication, software design (UML is produced here) are all part of the deliverables of a design phase.
Code is produced from the deliverables of the design phase during implementation, and this is the longest phase of the software development life cycle. For a developer, this is the main focus of the life cycle because this is where the code is produced. Implementation my overlap with both the design and testing phases. Many tools exists (CASE tools) to actually automate the production of code using information gathered and produced during the design phase.
During testing, the implementation is tested against the requirements to make sure that the product is actually solving the needs addressed and gathered during the requirements phase. Unit tests and system/acceptance tests are done during this phase. Unit tests act on a specific component of the system, while system tests act on the system as a whole.
So in a nutshell, that is a very basic overview of the general software development life cycle model. Now lets delve into some of the traditional and widely used variations.
Throwaway Prototyping Model
Useful in " proof of concept" or situations where requirements and user's needs are unclear or poorly specified. The approach is to construct a quick and dirty partial implementation of the system during or before the requirements phase.
Use in projects that have low risk in such areas as losing budget, schedule predictability and control, large-system integration problems, or coping with information sclerosis, but high risk in user interface design.
If you don't use a methodology, it's likely you are doing code-and-fix. Code-and-fix rarely produces useful results. It is very dangerous as there is no way to assess progress, quality or risk.
Code-and-fix is only appropriate for small throwaway projects like proof-of-concept, short-lived demos or throwaway prototypes.