Decoding Software Development Buzzwords

2 years 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

Business & Strategy

How Company Culture Drives Innovation in App Development

In today’s fast-paced, high-demand digital world, clients expect app development agencies to deliver highly innovative and top-notch solutions—an impossible task without the right people working. Companies that prioritize creating creative workplace cultures are well suited to hire and keep talent that drives productivity, teamwork, and respect.  A company’s culture is critical to its success in the app development industry. This blog post explores how an innovative workplace culture within an app development agency can lead to better solutions and experiences for digital product owners. What is innovative company culture? An innovative company culture is a collaborative environment that encourages out-of-the-box thinking and fosters a spirit of exploration and experimentation. It’s a paradigm that values diversity and inclusion, understanding that unique perspectives are the bedrock of originality and innovation. A supportive company culture: Practices clear communication and mutual respect, creating a space where everyone feels heard and validated. Emphasizes creativity and intellectual curiosity, encouraging employees to challenge norms and create disruptive solutions. Trusts employees, cultivating a landscape where individuals feel safe to express ideas without fear of judgment or ridicule. Shies away from office politics, focusing on collective progress rather than individual agendas. More and more employees are seeking this innovative and empowering company culture. A recent study by Glassdoor found that 77% of job seekers consider company culture before applying for a job, and 56% of employees rank culture as more important than salary. These numbers indicate a shift in the job market, with employees prioritizing personal growth, creativity, and job satisfaction over financial remuneration. This shift changes how companies attract talent and significantly impacts team synergy and client satisfaction. How Company Culture Fuels Innovation Among App Development Employees Consider a high-performing app development team. Behind their success, you’ll often find a vibrant, supportive company culture providing the backbone for their achievements. This culture doesn’t just exist; it actively molds, empowers, and inspires the team in key ways. Employee Longevity & Retention A positive company culture: Fosters employee loyalty. Boosts morale. Reduces turnover rates. Leads to a more dedicated, efficient, and satisfied workforce. This culture is a noteworthy factor in retaining talent and attracting new, competent employees, thereby contributing significantly to an organization’s success and efficiency. At InspiringApps, we prioritize building a workplace culture that inspires creativity and empowers employees to innovate and contribute meaningfully. All these facets of the company culture allow our team to thrive and grow at the company, leading to long tenures. Nearly 40% of our team has worked together for six years or more.  A statement from an InspiringApps team member on our recent anonymous survey illustrates the power of culture to impact retention: “I have never worked with such a talented and supportive group of people. Management is incredibly honest, transparent, and ethical, and if anything, I never want to leave!” Collaboration, Teamwork & Respect Maintaining respect in the workplace and presuming the best of your teammates is essential for any successful company. Errors are usually a result of process problems, not people, and a good company acknowledges that to make room for understanding and learning rather than blame and defensiveness. This approach significantly reduces the negative impacts of office politics on team dynamics, fostering a more supportive and collaborative atmosphere. An environment where each member feels valued, heard, and judgment-free, truly fuels innovation. When people feel safe to think differently, take calculated risks, and push boundaries without fear of retribution, they can contribute to creating innovative products that resonate in the marketplace. InspiringApps values teamwork and collaboration, with employees contributing in good faith and focusing on producing the best work. The absence of politics and the encouragement of mutual respect create a positive atmosphere where everyone’s voice is valued. In another quote from our recent employee survey: “Management finds the best people to hire in every department. Mutual respect is genuine among all team members.” Impact of Positive Company Culture on Clients A vibrant and positive company culture benefits employees and profoundly impacts clients. When employees are motivated and respected and work collaboratively, it translates into their work and service quality. Clients receive exceptional quality products and services, building trust and strengthening relationships. The energy of a positive work environment permeates through every interaction, making clients feel valued and appreciated in a few specific ways. Client Benefits of a Positive, Supportive Culture Good communication with app partners brings clients a significant business advantage. Working with a flexible, positive, and problem-solving-oriented team ensures that client needs are accurately understood, prioritized, and effectively addressed, resulting in tailored solutions that align perfectly with their business goals. This transparent, open, and consistent communication minimizes misunderstandings, reduces project delays, and increases efficiency. It fosters a synergistic relationship in which clients are regularly updated and are part of the decision-making process, thereby nurturing trust and satisfaction. Ultimately, these elements contribute positively to the client’s bottom line, as the more accurately the solution addresses their needs, the greater the return on their investment.  InspiringApps’ style brings these benefits to the forefront. While bringing an outside expert perspective, our honest approach to problem-solving helps propel solutions forward. For example, our client, Fidelity National Financial, commended our collaborative approach: “We appreciate that the InspiringApps team is straightforward and honest. If there’s something we’re doing that doesn’t make sense, or that’s hard, we just have conversations about it. No games, no dancing around it—you just tell us, and we work through it together.” Client Benefits of a Collaborative Culture In many situations, clients who partner with app development companies boasting a robust collaborative culture enjoy amplified project success. Having access to a top-tier talent pool, they are privy to the best and most innovative ideas coming to the fore. This collective talent shares many perspectives, brainstorming ways to approach the project to optimally meet the client’s vision and goals. The collaborative culture ensures that the team is not merely ticking off a task list but engaged in a continuous process of ideation, refinement, and innovation.  At InspiringApps, our culture results in a bespoke solution that encapsulates the client’s unique needs and aspirations, far exceeding a standard, one-size-fits-all product. As a recent InspiringApps client, Good Nutrition Ideas, stated: “Working with the InspiringApps team of designers and developers was an excellent first app experience for us. They were already familiar with accessibility issues in apps and app development, and they continued to learn and deliver on this app directed at people with disabilities. We anticipate working with them again, which is the best recommendation there is!” Supportive Company Culture: A Win for Employees & Clients An innovative workplace culture within an app development agency is vital in creating better solutions and experiences for digital product owners. Creating a supportive work environment emphasizing teamwork, innovation, and respect leads to a highly motivated, engaged, and productive workforce. Moreover, these qualities lay the groundwork for creating a solid foundation for employees’ personal and professional growth, resulting in an overall positive experience both for employees and clients. At InspiringApps, we remain committed to fostering an exceptional workplace culture, driving employee engagement and productivity, and developing innovative solutions. We’re proud that, as a result, we’ve been Certified™ by Great Place to Work®  for three consecutive years. Discover how culture fuels everything we do by viewing our Inspired Employees Make InspiringApps series.

3 months ago

App Development

People, Process & Scalability

The goal of building an app is to eventually watch it grow in popularity. No business owner has ever said, “I’ll spend money on an app and hope it stays at the bottom of the download chart!”  Scalability is the end game for most apps, but it is more than just building the app and hoping someone downloads it in a crowded app store. Defining scalability—the balancing act between taking an application’s capacity to grow while maintaining its performance—should be top of mind for any organization developing or adapting applications. Dozens of factors complicate scaling. Development teams must consider future-proofing code, responding quickly to scope or requirement changes, and focusing on the people involved: end users, developers, and designers. People-first scaling demands thoughtful strategies on how best resources can efficiently meet customer needs while aiming for superior results. In this blog, our engineers and developers offer insights into the power of people and processes and how they work together to reach scalability goals. What is scalability? Scalability refers to the capability of expanding a system in a focused and strategic manner, allowing it to effectively handle increased traffic and accommodate growing demands. App scalability involves thorough documentation and the accumulation of knowledge right from the outset, ensuring a solid foundation for future growth. When done right, scalability enables you to spend more time solving business vs. technical problems—and saves money in both coding and maintenance. While there may be multiple approaches to achieving scalability, the key lies in carefully selecting one method and remaining consistent throughout the system’s development and evolution. By doing so, organizations can ensure the scalability of their systems and effectively adapt to changing needs and requirements. Considerations for Scalability Clarify Your Goals: Engineering teams need to set crystal-clear goals to achieve scalability. Understand different ways to achieve scalability, including a surge in traffic, orders, sales users, or speed. Map out a timeline and budget for your scaling endeavors, ideally before you begin the project. Build for the Future: Launching a minimum viable product (MVP) is a quick and cost-effective way to get started on a small virtual machine. However, it’s crucial to approach it with a forward-looking perspective. Engineers and developers may need help with the temptation to optimize too soon, so leaving room for future optimization and app growth is vital. Plan for Scope Changes: In a project, it’s not a question of whether the scope changes but when it does. Scaling brings changing requirements in terms of technology and features. It is crucial to acknowledge this from the beginning while building. The key is to ensure extensibility. People-First Scaling Developers and engineers should remember that their creations are not solely meant for fellow developers (although a widely used application will inevitably involve interactions with many developers along the way). It is equally important to consider other stakeholders who will interact with the application, such as designers, stakeholders, and end users. Here are some valuable insights on scaling with a people-first approach. Test Assumptions Don’t rely on untested assumptions about what users want from an app. Users generally desire fast, high-quality, cost-effective solutions, but achieving all three can be challenging. Instead of presuming, ask the right questions. For example, inquire about the importance of loading videos quickly or whether security or speed takes precedence. You can gain valuable insights to guide your decisions by asking these pertinent questions. Delay Decisions Delay decisions as long as possible. Small decisions made over time can compound into something unattainable. This is especially true with end users, particularly in the case of native mobile apps. Users have specific expectations regarding how these apps should operate compared to web apps. While many things may change and evolve, having good, clean code will facilitate these changes. Investing time in writing quality code is always worthwhile. Stay Focused To achieve scalability, developers should decouple components to enable independent functionality, making updates more manageable. When considering mobile scaling, there are three key aspects to focus on: Evaluating how to scale new features effectively. Implementing compartmentalization to enable independent work for future developers joining the project. Developing strategies to ensure updates are tolerable. Respect Your Team You’ll undoubtedly add new team members who bring a fresh perspective to a complex project. However, it’s essential to carefully evaluate recommendations and changes. How one new person does something could lead to developing a bad habit that becomes the norm. To scale an app with your people on top of your mind, it all comes down to respect. You’re all learning from one another, from the developer to the designer to the user who downloads. Focus on building a collaborative environment for everyone to be able to scale together. Establishing a Process To Scale Your App Maintaining and managing a project is crucial for building a solid code base. If you continuously onboard developers to work on an ever-expanding list of features, prioritizing your process becomes paramount. Avoid taking shortcuts and establish a robust foundation for long-term success. Here are a few tips for creating a process that will stick. Defining a Process When working with multiple developers, teams, and leaders, it is crucial to establish transparent processes. Leaders play a vital role in determining the essence of the application, while smaller teams focus on tackling specific feature sets. Frequently, these teams operate in parallel but independently, emphasizing the need for proper staffing and training to ensure consistency and seamless integration. However, avoiding overstaffing is essential, as involving too many individuals can hinder progress. Research suggests that there is a tipping point where additional resources slow down progress in the wrong direction. Documentation Matters To mitigate potential issues, anticipate future questions from your team, establish well-defined tickets, clearly define your workflow and responsibilities, and clarify specific acceptance criteria. Things To Watch Out For Rushed coding can lead to sloppy development and an app vulnerable when scaled. Refactoring or restructuring the code without altering its original functionality may be necessary to address these issues. However, refactoring can pose a significant challenge when it comes to scaling, as it requires keeping the base code of the project intact, even as scope and requirements change. Refactoring can add years of work to the project, especially at the platform level. Secret to Scaling: Value Your People & Process Successful scaling of an application is not solely dependent on technology but equally hinges on the people involved and the processes they follow. People-first scaling, focusing on the suitable composition of teams, well-defined roles, and proper training, is integral to achieving streamlined operations and meeting project goals. Equally important is establishing robust development processes, which guide the production of high-quality code and form the bedrock of a scalable application. Processes ensure an app remains resilient despite changing requirements. Scaling is about balancing the human element with the technical and ensuring that one complements the other.

5 months ago

Blog Categories
App Design
App Development
App Marketing
Business & Strategy
Client Projects
Culture & Innovation
Digital Products
Events
InspiringApps News
Mobile Industry
Technology
Webinars