Decoding Software Development Buzzwords

8 months ago
Decoding Software Development Buzzwords Image

Software developers have their fair share of development buzzwords, lingo, slang, and jargon. Walking into a developer’s office can sometimes feel like stepping off the plane in a new country. You think you know which direction you are going but can’t read the signs because your phrasebook is still packed in your suitcase. We hope this post helps to decode some of those development buzzwords and provides you with a basic understanding of common software development terms.

Terms That Describe Development Methodologies

There are a number of ways to approach the management of a development project. Depending on your company’s goals and the scope of the project, some development models may be more useful than others. Here are the top four commonly used software development methodologies:

Waterfall: This model is simple to understand and use. Also referred to as the linear-sequential life cycle model, the Waterfall Model is a step-by-step illustration of the development process. Any phase in the development process begins only after the preceding phase has been completed, no two phases overlap. These phases include: requirement gathering and analysis, system design, implementation, integration and testing, deployment of system, and maintenance. Each phase cascades into the next, creating a series of downward flows through each step in the process.

Agile: This model is designed around a combination of iterative and incremental processes that focus on adaptability and rapid delivery. The Agile Model breaks down the development project into small, incremental builds tasked to deliver specific features for a release. Detailed planning ahead of time is not necessary in this method as each project’s unique requirements are tackled in every iteration of the build. Central to this design model is customer interaction as feedback informs the next iteration of the build. Terms like Scrum, XP, and Crystal all reference types of agile methodologies.

Rapid Application Development (RAD): Under the Agile parent umbrella, this model is designed around the ability to quickly adjust to changing requirements. The method is divided into four phases, requirement planning, user design, construction, and cutover. The middle two (user design and construction) are repeated until the features are approved by users. This method is especially effective for budget and time-sensitive projects.

DevOps: This development model is designed to bring the development and operations teams together to optimize development productivity and operations reliability. In many organizations, these two teams operate in silos. DevOps development aims to remove the barriers that separate development and operations to create one team that manages the entire lifecycle of the project more efficiently. More details can be found in this detailed guide to DevOps from Amazon.

Other Common Development Buzzwords

Regardless of the methodology employed by your development team, there are a number of development terms commonly heard when building out the platform:

Front-End: The simplest definition of front-end is everything the user sees. It is the presentation layer of the project that the end-user interacts with. If the app being developed were a car, the front-end would be the body, paint-job, and dashboard; the parts of the car the driver sees every day. A seamless, well-designed front-end is crucial for a successful development project. The more accessible and easy-to-use the application is, the easier it will be for users to adopt.

UX vs. UI: When discussing the functionality and appearance of the front-end, the acronyms UX and UI are often referenced. UX stands for User Experience while UI refers to User Interface. These may seem interchangeable but there are important distinctions between the two terms. We provide a brief overview below, but if you desire more, CareerFoundry’s blog offers a deep dive.

User Experience Design is the process central to enhancing customer satisfaction by understanding user needs, task flow, and objectives. This process includes research, testing, and evaluation of content and features. UXD is essentially charged with optimizing a product for effective and enjoyable use. It is the frame of a sculpture.

User Interface Design, on the other hand, is like the plaster on the sculpture. It is focused on the look and feel, creating the interactive elements that guide the user. It takes into account things like brand guidelines and is the point in the process where everything from button design to color selection is determined. UI complements UX by providing the visual guidance the user needs to successfully navigate the app.

Back-End: If the front-end is the body of the car, the back-end is the frame underneath and the design of the engine. Also known as the “server-side,” the back-end controls how the site works, updates, and changes. While the user is the one driving the car, the back-end determines how fast or how far the car can go. This article goes into further detail about the difference between front-end and back-end design.

Cross-Platform: is the development practice that allows the application to function in more than one digital habitat (think Android phone vs iOS phone) without having to create separate code for each. This is the alternative to Native development, where the application code is written specifically for a particular platform. Native works within the requirements of a specific environment by using its SDK, as well as hardware memory, peripherals, and other applications.

A Few Software Development Acronyms

Every developer loves their code but no need to pull out the enigma machine, we will quickly decode these development acronyms for you:

API: stands for Application Programming Interface, and is basically a common, standardized way to access specific features or data sets. It is defined by a set of protocols and tools that allow different systems and components to communicate with each other regardless of their architecture.

SDK: a Software Development Kit is a set of tools used to create applications. An SDK would include any tools, documentation, or sample code a programmer would need to develop an app. For example, the Java Development Kit is used to create android apps, and the iOS SDK is used to create iPhone apps.

MVP: is the Minimal Viable Product, or a product with the least number of features sufficient to satisfy early adopters. It is a pared down version of the final project meant to collect user feedback that will be considered in development of later versions.

While there are many more terms relevant to software development, we hope this overview has helped to cover some of the basics. Feel free to contact us with any questions.

Download our free development guide

In How to Design Digital Products for Every Generation, we share practical takeaways for any company looking to create a successful digital product—with audience strategy on designing for each generation and designing for all.
Recent Posts

InspiringApps News

InspiringApps Shares Advice for Women Managing Tech Teams

Boulder, CO—In the latest article from Built In Colorado, InspiringApps’ Director of Operations, Stacy Griffin, joins other leaders in sharing their career journeys, the lessons they’ve learned, and their advice for other women. Describe your career journey and current role. My career journey spans over 20 years in technology, project management, and people management. I started out as a developer at IBM and then moved into a developer lead role, which is when I began managing projects. From there, I pivoted to a formal project management role, which involved interacting with the business, gathering requirements, and managing technical project delivery. I eventually joined InspiringApps as a project manager, applying those same skills. Recently, I was promoted to director of operations, a new strategic role. I manage people and projects as a member of the leadership team. I’m also involved more on the sales side. My job requires managing a team of developers and overseeing client engagements and project lifecycle and delivery. It requires a lot of communication with clients and developers, both of whom have distinct working styles. To set expectations, I draw from years of experience in listening and applying empathy. I also have a master’s in computer science, which gives me aptitude and credibility with technical audiences. What advice do you have for other women who manage tech teams or aspire to? I have two pieces of advice for women who aspire to manage tech teams. First, find a role model. Look for mentors, ask questions and try to learn from the people around you. Secondly, avoid imposter syndrome. You should feel comfortable in your own skin. Remember that you’ve earned your seat at the table. What’s one important lesson you’ve learned in your time as a leader, and how has that made you a better manager? I’ve learned that there’s no single right way to manage people. Having the courage to manage in a way that’s comfortable and authentic to my personality allows me to lean into my strengths and improve in areas where I need to grow.  It’s also important to know that treating people with autonomy and respect builds trust. People appreciate it when you’re honest and open. I’m not a micromanager, and I naturally take the role of supporting people. I’ve learned to combine open dialog with frequent check-ins. Bringing my authentic self to work makes me a better manager.

4 days ago

InspiringApps News

Creating a Great Company Culture

Culture is what we share; it’s the values, goals, attitudes, and practices that make us who we are as an organization. A strong culture can give your company an advantage by fostering loyalty, creativity, and motivation. But what are the ingredients of positive company culture? Each company has its own unique culture and way of crafting it. The best cultures dovetail perfectly: employees and leaders focus on the same mission and encourage rewards. Discovering the perfect combination, however, doesn’t happen overnight.  This article shares our approach and recommendations to create an intentional company culture, offering insights and strategies that any company can apply to nurture a positive environment that leads to success. What is intentional company culture? Every company has a culture. While culture may form organically, consistent and intentional cultivation will result in greater success. Intentional company culture combines organizational values and mission with the rewards of employment that come in four main styles:  Loyalty-based Performance-based Opportunity-based Lifestyle-based No style is better than the other; it’s dependent on the company and the employees hired. For instance, if your staff prefers lifestyle-based culture (flexible work or other perks) over performance-based culture (raises and promotions for a job well done), the employees may stay dissatisfied and leave to find a company culture that suits their preference. In InspiringApps’ infancy, the personalities of the relatively few people involved drove our culture. But as the company grew, we were careful to emphasize the characteristics that fostered a positive work environment and eliminated any contrary to what we’ve come to value—empathy, inclusion, and personal growth for our employees.  Why do your employees need an intentional company culture? A recent survey found that 79% of employees who left their jobs did so because of a lack of appreciation, and 50% said they were more motivated by appreciation than money. This sounds like a job for company culture! In an ideal world, company culture and performance should work in tandem. Employees who are happy with their jobs have higher satisfaction rates. However, lousy work culture can hurt employees, bringing high turnover rates, burnout, and subpar work. Creating an intentional company culture requires consistency and time. There is no shortcut.  Intentional company culture benefits from open minds. Influential leaders seek to:  Understand what employees appreciate and what causes them pain. Hear employees’ suggestions for improvement. Follow through with promised changes. Repeat the above frequently. Intentional company culture requires commitment from everyone—especially the leadership team. InspiringApps understands this fundamental truth. An InspiringApps employee explains it best:  How To Develop & Maintain a Great Company Culture  Engaged employees are critical for business success. Experience is the best teacher, and we’ve learned plenty of lessons regarding things that keep our employees a happy part of the team. We built our culture slowly and methodically, and we’re proud to celebrate strong retention, with over 40% of our staff staying with us for more than five years. Among all the lessons we’ve learned, the following best practices stand apart from the rest: Promote from within. Offer excellent benefits. Be inclusive. Communicate consistently. In the following sections, we discuss each best practice in detail and share our experiences to help every company develop and maintain a great culture. Promote From Within Today’s employees are looking for a company with opportunities for career advancement and appreciate roles with a clear path to growth and promotions, as they give them personal goals to work towards. Along the employee journey, InspiringApps offers professional development opportunities that help our team members stay on top of their skills, expand their capabilities, and incorporate new and developing interests. By doing so, our employees can have long tenures at InspiringApps, while remaining competitive. At the same time, we can hire the best candidates for our growing positions right from our own team. As the InspiringApps client roster scaled, so did our team. We promoted long-time employees into our development team lead roles, recognizing their wisdom and honoring their commitment to our team through their tenure. Offer Excellent Benefits Many startups, including InspiringApps, may be resource-constrained in the early days. Health and retirement benefits are expensive, so we focused first on benefits that didn’t require a direct cash outlay. Establishing a two-day-per-week remote work policy over a decade ago, accommodating part-time employees, and offering flexible work hours were all low-cost ways to treat our team with respect. As InspiringApps matured, we also added more traditional benefits. In addition to a 401(k) plan with match, profit sharing, and a generous and flexible PTO policy, we recently increased the company’s health premium contribution from 50% to 100% and added company-paid vision, dental, disability, and employee assistance (EAP). Be Inclusive Inclusivity is a mandate kept top-of-mind in the projects and clients we take on and the staff we hire and promote. In a historically homogenous industry like tech, inclusivity can be a challenge. Through intentional recruiting and a focus on providing opportunities for traditionally underrepresented groups to join the field, InspiringApps is working to build a more diverse team that better reflects the communities we serve. Promoting women in tech is one way we’ve made strides in our company. At InspiringApps, women make up 40% of our leadership team and more than a third of our employees, which is 20% more than the US average. Promoting diversity and inclusion provides various perspectives, which is essential for the challenges we’re addressing in our consumer apps. We consider it a competitive advantage as we continue to innovate for our clients. Additionally, we’ve made a concentrated effort over time to welcome new employees. Years ago, that welcome included a team lunch on Pearl Street. Since our team has grown, that lunch is now digital—and the efforts to be inclusive extend much further than that. Communication and connection are ingrained into the way we set up projects, make progress on initiatives, and more. Communicate Consistently Secrecy and unexplained decision-making from leaders lead to unengaged employees. Transparency is the answer. About 85% of employees are most motivated when they know what’s happening and why. Open and frequent communication, including standups and all-hands meetings, project or team demos, company newsletters, and social media, encourages employees to gain trust in leadership. When you share company goals regularly, your employees will feel confident in knowing the direction they’re working. The more your employees see open communication from leaders and are encouraged to participate in decision-making, the better communicators they’ll be with your clients, modeling positive communication behaviors in everything they do. Technology is your ally when it comes to employee engagement. Offering a Slack channel or other internal chat features, an employee app, or an intranet site where employees can share and talk directly to leaders can inspire a transparent culture. The Value of Culture InspiringApps nurtures a culture of respect, empathy, and inclusivity. Our commitment to culture is exemplified by an official Great Places to Work ® Certification™. But that recognition is only a small window into the little things that our team is doing every day to reinforce the culture we’ve been nurturing for years. Our culture is one of our most valuable assets. It defines our expectations for the way we treat one another. Beyond making InspiringApps a pleasant place to work, our culture is evident in our client relationships and in the apps we create. Building award-winning apps starts with a language that’s foreign to many of us: code. For more than 15 years, our app development team has built easy-to-use iOS, Android, and web applications serving over 100 companies in a dozen industries. See our work.

1 month ago

Blog Categories
App Design
App Development
Business & Strategy
Client Projects
Events
InspiringApps News
Mobile Industry
Technology