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App Development
8 minutes read

The Different Types of Software Development 

By Jose Gomez
Types of software development
By Jose Gomez
App Development
8 minutes read

There are several types of software development, but in essence, we can zoom out and identify three major categories of software development. If your business wants to hire a software developer, it is vital to understand the different types of software development and what each entails. 

There is a plethora of software developers to choose from. Unfortunately, if you hire the wrong software developers, it will be far more challenging to execute the project your business envisions, and you may discover you don’t have the software development skills required to bring your desired product to life. 

This post will explore the various types of software development to give your organization an understanding of what is required to create the software system it wants to build. 

The Three Pillars of Software Development 

While there are a variety of different types of software development, to begin to understand the variances in software development projects, it is easiest to broadly identify three main types:

  • Web development 
  • Mobile app development 
  • Desktop app development 

Let’s start by examining these three broad categories of software development because they are the most common type of development projects businesses are interested in. 

Web Development 

Web development involves building web apps and websites. Web applications, just like websites, are accessed through web browsers. As a general rule of thumb, if you access the product online, you’ll likely need a web developer to build it. 

Building a website or web app requires using core web technologies, which include the programming languages JavaScript, HTML, and CSS. 

These languages are some of the widest known in the software development industry. As a result, it will likely be easier for your organization to find a web developer proficient in these technologies than other languages and technologies. 

Web development is a broad term that encompasses front-end development and back-end development. There are web developers who specialize in front-end or back-end development, and there are also developers capable of doing both tasks. These professionals are called full-stack developers. 

Front-end developers are responsible for everything users see on a web app or website. These developers are concerned with the UI and UX of the product. Back-end developers are responsible for the infrastructure, web server, and the behind the scenes functionality. 

A full-stack developer handles all of the tasks associated with web development. 

Mobile App Development 

Mobile application development involves building mobile apps for smartphones. There are several approaches to mobile app development that businesses can pursue, including:

  • Native app development 
  • Cross-platform app development 
  • Hybrid app development 
  • Progressive Web App development 

Native App Development 

Native apps are built for a specific operating system or device. These apps can take full advantage of the operating systems and device components of a specific ecosystem. For example, the two major mobile platforms are iOS and Android

Native apps are designed and built specifically for these mobile platforms. As a result, native apps offer users the best performance levels and complete integration with the underlying operating system and device, which leads to an unmatchable User Experience. 

Typically, native developers specialize in one platform or another since each platform has its own native programming languages. For iOS, the native languages are Swift and Objective-C; for Android, the native languages are Java and Kotlin. 

Organizations that want to reach users on both mobile platforms must develop two apps, one for iOS and one for Android. Not only does this take more time, but it also costs more to double develop, test, deploy, support, and maintain. 

Cross-Platform App Development 

Cross-platform applications allow developers to develop and deploy one codebase on both mobile operating systems. To develop cross-platform apps, developers must use frameworks like React Native or Flutter.

Cross-platform apps sacrifice a small amount of performance, and they won’t completely integrate with the underlying operating system and device, but they enable businesses to develop, deploy, and maintain one codebase.

As a result, cross-platform development is significantly cheaper than native development. It can also be completed faster since only one codebase is being developed. Near-native performance and UI levels can be reached with the right frameworks and a skilled development team. 

Hybrid App Development 

Hybrid app development is half web development and half mobile app development. Essentially, a developer uses development frameworks and libraries to run a web application inside the body of a mobile app. 

Hybrid apps are built with the core web technologies JavaScript, HTML, and CSS so they can be deployed on all operating systems. These apps don’t perform quite as well as cross-platform apps, but they can arguably be developed faster at a lower price since they are built with the core web technologies. 

Progressive Web App Development 

Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) are web apps built to perform like mobile applications. PWAs are not downloaded from app stores but can be saved to a user’s home screen through the Internet. 

While these applications are built with the core web technologies, new HTML features enable them to offer limited offline functionality, push notifications, and other features typically associated with traditional mobile applications. 

More organizations are getting interested in PWA development because it enables them to circumvent the app stores and reach users directly. 

Desktop App Development 

Desktop app development is similar to mobile development in that developers build applications for specific operating systems. The primary desktop operating systems are Windows, Linux, and macOS. 

Like mobile development, developers can create cross-platform desktop applications to reach users on all devices. Desktop applications, or software programs, are downloaded and installed directly on a user’s computer. 

Other Types of Software Development 

While mobile, desktop, and web application development are the most common projects for most organizations, you should be aware of other software development projects. Some of the other popular software development projects include:

  • API development 
  • Security software development 
  • Embedded systems development 
  • Cloud software development 
  • Database development 

API Development 

Application programming interfaces (APIs) are vital to mobile, desktop, and web application performance. APIs connect computer systems and software programs, enabling them to communicate and share information. 

For example, if you wanted to add a map or weather feature to your application, there is no reason to develop this feature since it already exists. Instead, you can quickly add a map feature to your application using the Google Maps API or a similar offering. 

There are APIs for almost every service imaginable. Some APIs are free, some require a license to use, and others are developed for private use. Organizations can develop an application programming interface to connect internal programs and systems like CMS, EMR, etc. 

Security Software Development 

Security software is developed to help secure systems and programs. Digital security is more critical now than ever before as more sensitive data and processes are digitized. While most organizations tend to purchase security software solutions, some may develop them themselves to have a security solution built specifically for their systems and processes. 

Embedded Systems Development

An embedded system exists within a device not typically associated with computing or the Internet. For example, digital cameras, refrigerators, automobiles, and even manufacturing equipment utilize embedded software systems. 

Embedded systems development requires using a software development tool known as middleware. As a result, middleware experience is vital for developing embedded systems. 

Cloud Software Development 

The emergence and popularity of cloud computing have led to an influx of cloud software development. Cloud software development enables businesses to run their applications and services in the cloud and optimize their costs

Instead of paying for physical servers or IT infrastructure, cloud computing platforms enable businesses to deploy their apps and services in the cloud and only pay for the computing resources that are used. 

Cloud app development is one of the leading trends in software development as businesses look for ways to be more efficient in performance and cost. 

Database Development 

Database development is the task of designing and building databases. In some cases, a database developer will be tasked with modifying existing databases to ensure that they satisfy the requirements of the programs and users. 

Database development is critical for HiTech services like AI and Machine Learning. If your organization utilizes data analytics, database development is an important service that should be strongly considered. 

Final Thoughts

This is not an exhaustive list of software development projects that can be completed. While most projects can be categorized as mobile, web, or desktop development, there are several types of development that don’t easily fit into these categories. 

If you want to learn more about the different types of software development, contact an experienced app development partner like Koombea.

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