Understanding Software Development

You don’t need to have a background in computer science in order to understand how software work or even how to develop them yourself. So what is software development?

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By Adrian Sappleton

When developing software there are a few things that are necessary to know before you can get started. The first thing that you need to know is the type of development that is necessary for what you want to do.

That is due to the fact that there are multiple types of development:

  1. Applications development: to create user-centric programs, from mobile apps to testing and development software such as SAFE.
  2. Systems development: Focused on using life cycle development to create and maintain operating systems often involving network operability and data security. ex. windows
  3. Signal processing: to create algorithms that process data into results that we can interpret

The second thing to know when developing software is knowing which programming language should be used to create the functions you need in the software you want to develop. But what is a Programming Language?

A programming language is the set of instructions used by a developer for a machine to understand and execute. You don’t need to learn them all as there are over 700 programming languages. Primarily, there are 2 ways you can program; either using a code language or using visual development with other forms of programming falling somewhere in the spectrum between these two.

Spectrum of Programming Languages
Programming Language Spectrum

What is code language?

A code language is a programming language in which you have to write lines text to make a function. When many lines of code are put together in an executable document, it’s can be called a script, module, package etc.

As shown on the spectrum, Coding languages includes different types of code such as high-level code to machine code i.e. the codes are understood by the developer but contains the written format of executable instructions for the machine to follow.

  1. High-level code:- which are more understandable by humans as they are written in understandable phrases e.g “sum(x)”. This can be languages such as Matlab from Python
  2. Low-level code: Which is harder for humans to understand because it is more similar to the language the computer/machines would understand and is characterized by the simplicity of the language.
High level code
High level
low level code
Low level

Benefits of code languages

Traditionally code language has been the go-to choice for many of the people who want to become developers.  This led to many developers becoming very adept at using both high and low-level code to create software with various unique and innovative functions. Here are some of the benefits of using the traditional coding language

Due to the fact that the codes are written in lines, it is possible for a developer to go back and edit any line of code to give it a new function.

Knowing precisely whats going on
Due to the nature of written lines of code, in which they are written in understandable language to developers, they can then go back and check each individual line of code to make sure each line is doing exactly what it is supposed to do.

Coded data can be more secure if people don’t know what it means. Due to the fact that codes can be customized with different security levels

What is Visual Development?

Visual development is the name given to the method of developing software by using a series of visual graphics elements arranged in a systematic order to create and executable function. 

The visual development language can be seen in one of few ways such as, as diagramming languages or even icon-based languages. On the software platform SAFE, visual programming is represented through the use of dragging and dropping blocks to create test sequences for which you would otherwise have to write many hundreds of lines of code to achieve.

Visual development platforms

Visual development platforms can be used for a variety of functions. On the simpler side of visual development, you will find programming teachers such as SCRATCH where you use the drag and drop method to assemble patches of executable code to create more complex functions. Looking to the more complex side you will find software platforms such as SAFE which allows developers to create their own test sequences. 

SAFE on the Programming Laguage Spectrum
SAFE on the programming language spectrum

 These test sequences are created by dragging and dropping blocks and clicking buttons to execute complex calculations. These complex and time-consuming calculations and processes can be easily repeated without rewriting the same lines of codes.

Picture of SCRATCH visual development
Diagram over IR processing

Benefits of Visual Development

Easy to learn
These languages are easy to learn and use without having to know or use difficult coding languages.

Onboarding can be easier and faster than getting to know code

Easier to build, develop or use long and complex lines of code segments: These languages provide the facility to attach code to each interface component. The attached code is executed when the user interacts with the interface component.

Makes developing much quicker than traditional methods

It’s about preference not comparison

With both sides of the spectrum coming with their own advantages and disadvantages, getting an answer as to which type of development is better is almost impossible. That is because developers each have their preference for the different styles for their own reasons. Many developers prefer the text programming language as it may just be easier or more comfortable for them to type the scripts they want instead of just dragging and dropping. While on the other hand, some developers will prefer to use the drag and drop of visual programming to save themselves time and to add some convenience to their endless hours of coding

Plug: SAFE, The Platform for Testing

Diagram over IR processing
processing data in SAFE

SAFE is Encidas platform that lets you test audio and electronic devices easy and fast, helping you build high quality tests. With SAFE you don’t waste development time interfacing with equipment, writing code or writing documentation. SAFE helps you build your audio and electronic test by handling test sequencing, storing important data and documentation while you simply drag and drop. SAFE can interface to other programs and languages such as Matlab, Python and LabView making your tests as customisable as possible. 

Tests in SAFE is 100% reproducable, meaning data and test information will not get lost by your team. You will always know exactly what equipment and processing were used to get your results. Entire test cases can also be shared within teams, increasing the transparency and productivity.      

Try it for free

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