Stages of software development

Stages of software development refers to the development of software from the idea stage to the full release for public use.

Software always starts up as an idea. A way to make tasks easier or an entirely new way of doing things.

In many software companies, there are think-tanks that are set up to brainstorm ideas for new apps. They are usually hard at work daily pitching ideas. When they cook up a brilliant one, the bigwigs would then give the green light for development to start on the idea.

Idea stage of software development
Software programmers coming up with ideas (credit: Shutterstock)

Read: Layers of software on a smartphone

In other cases, it may not be a company. It could just be two people or even just one person thinking up ideas and going to work on them.

There are several stages of software development.

1. Pre Alpha stage

This is the first stage of software development. It also includes the idea stage. When the greenlight for an idea is given, the programmers go to work on the idea. They write software codes and build the app until the completion of the project.

Pre alpha stage of software development
Programmers working on software (credit: Shutterstock)

2. Alpha stage

The Alpha stage is the first stage of testing. Software at this stage is known as alpha software. It is usually incomplete, unstable, contains errors and is prone to crashing. Alpha software is not meant for public use. When the software is complete and well tested, it then moves on to the next stage.

Read: What are bugs in software?

3. Beta stage

The Beta stage is the second stage of testing. Beta software is usually feature complete and good enough to be released to the public but it still contains bugs and errors. This is why beta software is only open to beta/pilot testers. A Beta or pilot tester is a regular member of the public who signs up for either public or private beta/pilot testing programmes.

Beta stage of software development
A Chrome beta app

Before software is released to the public, beta testers would receive and use the software for a certain period of time. Their job is report bugs, errors and make recommendations to the developers. The developers then receive such feedback and implement them on the software.

It is rather sad these days that prospective beta testers only join up for clout i.e. bragging about being the first to use a software. Many do not offer constructive feedback to the developers. As a result smartphone software has become more buggy. MIUI testers, I am looking at you guys most especially.

There are three types of beta software

a. Open and Closed beta:

Open beta programmes are available and accessible to the general public. It simply means that anyone can join the programme. Closed betas are private and are not accessible to everyone save a select few picked by the developers.

b. Perpetual beta:

This is software that remains in beta stage with new features being released all the time. Some developers keep their apps in beta phase so as to avoid the issues that comes with a app being buggy. In most cases, the cop out is, “well the app is still a beta software”. Fortnite has been a beta since its release. The same thing can be said about PUBG as well.

Release candidate:

This is a beta app that is complete and has passed all beta software tests. Such app is ready for release.

4. Stable release

A release candidate that has passed all tests and verification, and is now ready for full public consumption is known as a stable release. Such software or app has been deemed safe and suitable for public use. The remaining bugs are also considered acceptable (Lubarsky’s law).

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