Software development smorgasbord

There are several variations when it comes to alternative software development approaches. Here are definitions of some of them and other key concepts.

Agile development: In this alternative to traditional software development, programmers and end users work together to create software through a series of short iterations often called sprints. Constant feedback between the groups quickly addresses coding errors and changes in user requirements.

Lean software development: Borrowing ideas from lean manufacturing disciplines, this relative of agile development seeks to reduce wasted effort in development projects, such as those associated with excessive administrative overhead and costly commitments to software features that would be nice to have but are not essential.

Scrum: One of the most widely adopted agile variations, it taps ScrumMasters to keep teams of programmers and end users focused on creating and testing the software iterations that go into creating the new application.

Spiral development: This methodology uses an evolutionary series of iterations that each result in the creation of reduced-scale prototypes that approximate the desired end-state product. The design stage for each iteration involves a fresh opportunity for risk assessment and program changes.

Waterfall: A traditional programming method that breaks the development process into discrete steps, such as requirements definition, design and implementation. Each step must be completed before engineers move to the next one. It’s increasingly being seen as risky for software development because it doesn’t easily accommodate changing user requirements and might not uncover coding errors until late in the process.

Extreme programming: A distinguishing feature of this agile development variation is pair programming, in which two software developers share coding and over-the-shoulder evaluation duties at one workstation.

About the Author

Alan Joch is a freelance writer based in New Hampshire.

FCW in Print

In the latest issue: Looking back on three decades of big stories in federal IT.


  • Anne Rung -- Commerce Department Photo

    Exit interview with Anne Rung

    The government's departing top acquisition official said she leaves behind a solid foundation on which to build more effective and efficient federal IT.

  • Charles Phalen

    Administration appoints first head of NBIB

    The National Background Investigations Bureau announced the appointment of its first director as the agency prepares to take over processing government background checks.

  • Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.)

    Senator: Rigid hiring process pushes millennials from federal work

    Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) said agencies are missing out on younger workers because of the government's rigidity, particularly its protracted hiring process.

  • FCW @ 30 GPS

    FCW @ 30

    Since 1987, FCW has covered it all -- the major contracts, the disruptive technologies, the picayune scandals and the many, many people who make federal IT function. Here's a look back at six of the most significant stories.

  • Shutterstock image.

    A 'minibus' appropriations package could be in the cards

    A short-term funding bill is expected by Sept. 30 to keep the federal government operating through early December, but after that the options get more complicated.

  • Defense Secretary Ash Carter speaks at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference in San Francisco

    DOD launches new tech hub in Austin

    The DOD is opening a new Defense Innovation Unit Experimental office in Austin, Texas, while Congress debates legislation that could defund DIUx.

Reader comments

Please post your comments here. Comments are moderated, so they may not appear immediately after submitting. We will not post comments that we consider abusive or off-topic.

Please type the letters/numbers you see above

More from 1105 Public Sector Media Group