In this post, I’ll attempt to highlight the major steps of application development for beginners working on a small or individual project. This content assumes knowledge of the software development life cycle and some basic programming experience.
Step 1 – Think of an Idea
It’s true what they say…everything begins with an idea. Whether you are thinking of working on something original, or if you plan to build your own version of an existing application (a great practice for soon to be engineers), you cannot move forward without the idea.
Consider keeping an idea journal & make it a point to constantly jot down random thoughts, regardless of how you feel about the thought itself. Constant brainstorming is an excellent habit to have in order to promote your own enthusiasm for project development.
Step 2 – Requirements Analysis & Choosing a Technology Stack
There are more than a handful of well known options available when it comes to what can be used for putting together a project. In order to decide which stack is for you, first seek to understand your idea from a project management perspective and analyze its requirements and goals.
Your requirements analysis should come in the form of answers to questions. Answer questions like, “How can I break my project idea into smaller parts or modules?“, and “How do I want a user to interact with creating an object in the system?” List these out in a word doc or on a piece of paper. These requirements will turn into your checklists during the prototyping phase of step 4, and will also serve as a base of documentation & planning, allowing smooth transition into Step 3.
Based off your conclusions here, you can accurately research a tried and true group of technologies (languages, IDE’s, frameworks, database servers, etc..) to utilize when working on your own project ideas. Keep it simple and try to find a stack with lots of community support & online resources.
Step 3 – Documentation & Design Planning
Yes, a small project should have some documentation and careful planning, even if in the form of a few torn pieces of paper with to-do lists that resemble chicken scratch. Docs can be represented in many different ways because all that matters is that they aid the engineer (you) in implementing solutions to your problems.
Therefore, taking the time to plan your individual project’s code base and life cycle is absolutely critical to ensuring things like its scalability and support down the road. Expect drafts and edits to be ongoing throughout your project.
Step 4 – Prototyping
This is the part where we start programming.
A proper prototype should demonstrate the core functionality of the project’s goal(s). It’s constructed so that changes can be made to an application’s planned life cycle, which is inevitable in real-world scenarios. Prototyping is also still a part of the design phase. Feel free to experiment with different concepts and evolve the original idea of your software. There are no limits to what you can develop when programming.
Step 5 – Testing & Refining
As with many of the steps of application development, there is some overlap and back-and-forth work which takes place during the different stages. This is most evident when it comes to testing and refining your project.
In this step, you will be testing and going over code you wrote during the prototype phase, and correcting any mistakes made during the designing and planning of your software’s code base. Work to ensure that your application is robust and can handle random interactions from users. Cleaning & organizing code into blocks of functions that make sense and an architecture that is laid out nicely is the best way to guarantee your software will have a life past its first deployment.
Step 6 – Deployment
The deployment process depends on the type of software you are constructing. A mobile app is packaged, encrypted and signed before being uploaded to the mobile store. Web applications usually have their code base and resources copied over to what are known as “production servers”. If your application is a client-based program, there may be information which your users are required to download before utilizing the software.
Regardless of what type of deployment process meets your specific needs, you can be proud for a brief moment and understand that you’ve accomplished something that is anything but easy.
From here, the next phases would look something like working on marketing strategies, listening to feedback and analyzing your users’ trends. Then, of course, it’s time to plan your first update and continue the cycle!
Thank you for reading!
Thank you for checking out this post. I really hope this helps those of you who have been wanting to start your own projects but were unsure of how to get started or what it means to develop an application on your own.
If you liked what you read, you can check out this post here to find out some challenges I faced working as a new software engineer.
Please share and comment on some of the projects you have worked on and any steps that I left out of the application development cycle. You can also comment on some other topics you may be interested to see me write about.