News from the World of Software Development – June 2017

Welcome to the June edition of the Betica Blog software development news digest. We hope this month’s stories provide a measure of insight and inspiration to compliment your daily work routine. If you are interested in checking out last month’s stories, including the increased use of Agile at government agencies and Microsoft embracing Git, simply click on the following link.

The Forecast for Software Development is Cloudy

Companies continue to leverage Cloud-based services to make their software development processes more efficient. This trend was reported on earlier this month at the blog for the document management software company, Formtek, as well as other sources.

 This migration to the Cloud is a natural outgrowth of organizations increasingly adopting Agile, DevOps, and other modern development frameworks with the hopes of achieving continuous integration or to simply deliver software faster. Some of these Cloud-based services include containers and virtualized server environments, as well as QA and database services.

Formtek explains that because many development companies are actually writing software to be run in the Cloud, it makes using Cloud-based tools a natural fit. This fact is highlighted in their three top reasons why software engineering becomes more efficient in the Cloud. In short, developers are already using the Cloud in their daily work; they want to use new tools which are largely Cloud-based, and DevOps and Continuous Delivery largely depend on Cloud-based tools.

The future of software development is quite cloudy, indeed.

Volvo and NVIDIA working on Driverless Car Technology

While NVIDIA is primarily known as a developer of graphics processor chip technology, the company is working with Volvo and two other companies on a driverless car system. News about this futuristic consortium first appeared this week in Forbes.

The heart of this new technology is NVIDIA’s Drive PX automotive computing platform. The company’s graphics processing background comes into play with Drive PX’s auto-pilot functionality, which is able to read real-time information from 12 HD cameras, processing 1.3 gigapixels of graphics data per second. The system uses dual high-powered Tegra X1 chips, capable of recording two 4K streams at a refresh rate of 30Hz.

Software routines using AI and deep learning are able to make intelligent decisions based on all that graphical data. This facilitates object detection while allowing for the automated control of the vehicle. The first driverless cars from the Volvo/NVIDIA group are expected to hit the marketplace by the end of 2021.

Crowdtesting grows in Popularity

As software companies hope to improve their QA processes, a new form of quality assurance – crowdtesting – is growing in relevance. Applause, a company involved in the practice, recently described how it works on its ARC website.

At its essence, crowdtesting uses the targeted audience demographic of an app as part of its testing team. The hope is to have the QA process mimic the real world environment of a website or mobile app as closely as possible. Applause currently has over 300,000 testers available across the world, so it is able to match a group of testers to most applications.

It will be interesting to see if crowdtesting becomes part of the QA mainstream in the next few years.

Stay tuned to the Betica Blog for additional news and insights from the constantly evolving world of software development and QA. As always, thanks for reading!

Software Architects need these Four Essential Skills

Of course, strong technical ability is a requirement for anyone employed as a software architect. This role is almost always filled with someone who forged their skills working at least a few years as an application engineer. What separates the best architects from those merely holding the job title are the other intangibles necessary to thrive in today’s business world.

O’Reilly Media recently looked at four essential abilities a software architect needs to truly be successful in this era of Agile and DevOps. Let’s take a closer look at these skills to see if adding them to your toolbox makes you better at the practice of software development. Good luck!

Technical and Business Leadership

A good software architect knows how to lead the developers on his team, while also working closely with business stakeholders and project managers to ensure the project requirements are clearly defined with sufficient progress being achieved. Mark Richards, an experienced software architect and author, commented on the importance of this trait.

“It’s being a technical as well as business domain go-to person, it’s really to help clear roadblocks to the team so they can actually move forward. Being a leader as an architect means providing technical help and guidance, it means to help the team make decisions and form those decisions and validate them, and also to provide motivation to the team and support whether it be technical or non-technical support,” said Richards.

The Ability to Negotiate

Software architects also need to be able to negotiate at times to ensure a technology project proceeds in a smooth fashion. This skill comes into play when first determining the technology stack and basic architecture for an application. Sometimes, stakeholders may want a feature beyond the scope of the project or its budget. Similar negotiations happen with project managers and even the development staff, ensuring buy-in before the actual work commences.

Strong Decision-making is a Must

While the product owner or project manager typically rank higher in the hierarchy of most technology projects, a software architect still needs to possess strong decision-making skills. This especially comes into play regarding the technology stack used on a project, i.e. programming language, database, virtualization platform, etc. A strong-minded and confident approach definitely helps to formulate a robust architecture for a software application.

Collaboration is Vital in Today’s Technology World

It stands to reason any software architect working at a company with a DevOps organizational structure knows how to collaborate with their coworkers. Many enterprises also use architectural teams to define system architectures as a group. In this latter case, being able to share ideas and concepts with other like-minded professionals – in an ego-free fashion – helps ensure the best possible applications are built for the organization. Richards feels a mediator role helps when architectures are defined using a team instead of an individual architect.

In any case, it is obvious the best software architects possess a variety of skills that go beyond writing great code. Consider developing these abilities in your own work to take your software development career to a higher level.

Thanks for reading the Betica Blog; check back soon for additional news and insights from the constantly changing software development world.

Business continue to strive for Continuous Integration

One of the major reasons companies eschew older software development methodologies for Agile is to make the process faster, more nimble, and ultimately better able to meet the constantly shifting needs of the business. The “holy grail” of this effort is usually continuous deployment or continuous integration, where software updates typically happen on an hourly basis. In a competitive business world, this kind of transformation is sometimes necessary for survival.

Embracing state of the art innovations like containers and automation also remain part of the process, but let’s take a closer look at the current struggle for enterprises to achieve continuous integration. Maybe these insights help your own company undergo a similar evolution in software engineering.

Continuous Integration not widely Implemented… yet

A recent study by Dimension Data, and reported on in Information Week, looked at the adoption of Agile and continuous integration at the modern business. Over 700 industry professionals responded to the study; working at companies of all sizes from the enterprise to the SMB. The survey noted the wide popularity of Agile throughout the technology world, and while continuous integration is a worthy goal, a relatively smaller number of organizations have yet to achieve it.

About one-third of the respondents reported a full engagement with Agile among all their software development teams, while 94 percent noted at least part of their organization’s software engineering process used Agile. The other six percent either didn’t use Agile at all or were experimenting with the methodology on a pilot project.

For the purposes of the study, continuous integration is considered to be the ability to deploy software updates on an hourly basis. 28 percent of the surveyed organizations consider that level of CI to be their ultimate goal with Agile, while only half of those firms achieve it today. Dimension Data noted that 18 percent of last year’s survey respondents had CI as a goal, showing a notable increase on the current survey.

Faster Software Updates and Bug Fixes

Even if companies don’t reach that final goal of hourly software updates, they are still reaping the benefits of Agile, according to the survey. 35 percent of the respondents integrate updates on a daily basis, while 17 percent are able to do so every week. Another 20 percent update their systems on a less than weekly basis, but still faster than with older methodologies, like the Waterfall.

Naturally, bug fixes also happen more quickly when using Agile – likely with other software development innovations contributing to the higher efficiency. These speed improvements were relatively minor – a few percentage points – probably due to software enhancements being more important than anything but critical fixes. Around 20 percent of the respondents use test-driven development and are seeing fewer defects as a result.

87 percent of those surveyed embrace some form of automated testing, with either Selenium and/or Appium being used by 70 percent. The use of DevOps is also emerging with 88 percent of the respondents either considering it or already leveraging some of its practices.

The bottom line remains simple: If your organization is interested in a faster development process, obviously Agile needs to be on your radar if it isn’t already. You may never reach continuous integration, but benefits are able to be achieved throughout your journey.

Stay tuned to the Betica Blog for additional dispatches from the world of software development.