Software is a series of codes and instructions that tell a particular computer how to perform a certain task. This is opposed to physical hardware where the machine actually performs the task and is constructed from parts. There are two kinds of software: one is used internally by a specific application and the other is used externally. This article will discuss the latter kind. The information is also applicable to the former kind.
Applications are the main source of information for a computer. A particular application software consists of all the instructions, types, and procedures required to start a particular program. An example of such an application software is MS Word. Other examples of application software are the Windows Operating System (OS), the Linux kernel, and Sun’s Open Source projects.
The development of application software is controlled by the designers and developers. The computer hardware and other components are not used during the process of development and maintenance. Instead, these are operated by the application software during its operation. Application software engineers also do most of the maintenance. In fact, it is their prime responsibility to check and make sure that the programs are functional, efficient, and bug-free.
Now, if we look at how the process of application software engineering works, we will see that the implementation can be loosely separated into three phases. First, the concept or idea is conceived. This involves the compilation of needed information and constructing a working model or prototype of the product. This prototype is then tested through various means including but not limited to the use of simulation programs. Once approved, it is now ready to be sold under a free software program.
After the concept phase, the implementation phase consists of compilation and implementation of the application software on a particular computer system. Compilation involves the integration of programming languages and data structures into the source code of the software itself. During this phase, source code changes may be made if necessary. Changes may be required in both the source code and the device drivers as well. Device drivers are those components that are needed to properly operate electronic devices such as computers, printers, scanners, and keyboards. These are also part of the operating systems.
Lastly, the maintenance phase refers to updating and repairing the computer hardware as well as the operating system and other user software included with the application software. Maintenance is done to prevent malfunctions that may result from changes in the computer hardware and the operating system. It also delays the release of new products by allowing the manufacturers to properly test their applications before they are released in the market.