What is Software Engineering?

DEFINITION

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Software engineering is defined as a process of analyzing user requirements and then designing, building, and testing software applications which will satisfy those requirements.

Let us first understand what software engineering stands for. The term is made of two words, software and engineering.

Software is more than just a program code. A program is an executable code, which serves some computational purpose. Software is considered to be collection of executable programming code, associated libraries and documentations. Software, when made for a specific requirement is called software product.

Engineering on the other hand, is all about developing products, using well-defined, scientific principles and methods.

Software Evolution

The process of developing a software product using software engineering principles and methods is referred to as software evolution. This includes the initial development of software and its maintenance and updates, till desired software product is developed, which satisfies the expected requirements.

Evolution starts from the requirement gathering process. After which developers create a prototype of the intended software and show it to the users to get their feedback at the early stage of software product development. The users suggest changes, on which several consecutive updates and maintenance keep on changing too. This process changes to the original software, till the desired software is accomplished.

Even after the user has desired software in hand, the advancing technology and the changing requirements force the software product to change accordingly. Re-creating software from scratch and to go one-on-one with requirement is not feasible. The only feasible and economical solution is to update the existing software so that it matches the latest requirements.

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Features Of A Good Software

Any software should be judged by what it offers and what are the methods which help you to use it.

Every software must satisfy the following attributes:

  • Operational
  • Transitional
  • Maintenance

Here are some important characteristics of good software developed by software professionals

Operational

This characteristic let us know about how well software works in the operations which can be measured on:

  • Budget
  • Efficiency
  • Usability
  • Dependability
  • Correctness
  • Functionality
  • Safety
  • Security

Transitional

This is an essential aspect when the software is moved from one platform to another:

  • Interoperability
  • Reusability
  • Portability
  • Adaptability

Maintenance

This aspect talks about how well software has the capabilities to adapt itself in the quickly changing environment:

  • Flexibility
  • Maintainability
  • Modularity
  • Scalability

Relationship Between Software Engineering And Other Disciplines

The following are the relationship between software engineering and other disciplines.

  • Computer Science: Gives the scientific foundation for the software as electrical engineering mainly depends on physics.
  • Management Science: Software engineering is labor-intensive work which demands both technical and managerial control. Therefore, it is widely used in management science.
  • Economics: In this sector, software engineering helps you in resource estimation and cost control. Computing system must be developed, and data should be maintained regularly within a given budget.
  • System Engineering: Most software is a component of a much larger system. For example, the software in an Industry monitoring system or the flight software on an airplane. Software engineering methods should be applied to the study of this type of systems.

Need For Software Engineering

The need for software engineering arises because of higher rate of change in user requirements and environment on which the software is working.

  • Large software – It is easier to build a wall than to a house or building, likewise, as the size of software become large engineering has to step to give it a scientific process.
  • Scalability- If the software process were not based on scientific and engineering concepts, it would be easier to re-create new software than to scale an existing one.
  • Cost- As hardware industry has shown its skills and huge manufacturing has lower down he price of computer and electronic hardware. But the cost of software remains high if proper process is not adapted.
  • Dynamic Nature- The always growing and adapting nature of software hugely depends upon the environment in which user works. If the nature of software is always changing, new enhancements need to be done in the existing one. This is where software engineering plays a good role.
  • Quality Management- Better process of software development provides better and quality software product.

Challenges of Software Engineering

Here are some critical challenges of software engineering

  • In safety-critical areas such as space, aviation, nuclear power plants, etc. the cost of software failure can be massive because lives are at risk.
  • Increased market demands for fast turnaround time.
  • Dealing with the increased complexity of software need for new applications.
  • The diversity of software systems should be communicating with each other.

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