News from the World of Software Development – March 2017

Welcome to this month’s software development and QA news digest. As 2017 enters its third month, the application engineering world continues to evolve at a rapid pace. If you are interested in February’s digest, simply click on this link.

Hopefully, you are able to leverage these insights to improve or inform your organization’s software engineering process.

Software Engineering Trends going Mainstream

Earlier this month, The Next Web published a story from the software intelligence company, Raygun, looking at three software development trends essentially becoming standard practice. We covered some of these same directional shifts in our 2017 industry trends article, and it is interesting to see them widely adopted.

The growth of ChatOps to enhance communication amongst a development team is one trend Raygun noted. ChatOps even allows software engineers and QA personnel to kick off builds and automated tests from a chatbot interface, while the entire team stays in the loop. The use of bots works well for companies already embracing DevOps and a continuous deployment model.

Speaking of continuous deployment, it is another one of the trends highlighted in the Raygun article. An increasingly competitive business world places the onus on companies to build and maintain applications faster than ever before. Following a continuous delivery model allows firms to deploy new code several times a day.

The increased use of software intelligence was the third trend discussed by Raygun, which isn’t a surprise, considering the company’s main line of business. Leveraging this form of automated intelligence hastens the discovery of problems or issues before the customer.

“Software intelligence gives you the ability to automatically detect when a user’s experience was poor and how you can improve it, with full diagnostic details being provided for every individual user error, crash or performance issue,” the article mentioned. This new era of application performance monitoring is one worth watching by anyone responsible for public-facing applications.

The Principles of Agile Software Development

Late March saw the appearance of a Forbes article in our news feed detailing the daily principles of Agile software development. While this is more of an evergreen topic than “news” per se, anyone new to Agile would benefit from studying these concepts. Scott Stiner, the CEO of UM Technologies, a software firm focusing on innovative user experience (UX) design, authored the article.

Stiner highlights the fact that traditional software engineering methodologies – most notably the Waterfall – lack the iteration compatible with the modern business world. The high cost of finding defects too late in the development process isn’t a risk many organizations want to take. This, combined with the faster speed of business noted earlier, is a major reason many software shops have embraced Agile over the last decade.

Early delivery of prototypes and strong customer interaction remain a major focus of Agile. Changes to requirements are welcome; not considered to be scope creep as with older methodologies. Analyze the rest of these Agile principles to see if a change in how you write applications makes sense for your organization.

Keep coming back to the Betica Blog for additional news and information regarding the wide world of software development. As always – thanks for reading!

2017 Trends in Software Development

With the New Year now upon us, it becomes a great time to take a look at some of the major trends impacting the world of software development. Understanding the shifts in a continually evolving industry helps position your application engineering team for success both now and in the future. Maybe your shop is already part of making these trends the new reality in the technology sector?

Chat-based Tech becomes Commonplace for Developers

Last year, we talked about the use of ChatOps for software development teams, allowing engineers and QA staff to use smart chatbots to streamline portions of the process. Users can easily start builds, test scripts, automate virtual environments, and more using a simple messaging app that keeps the entire team in the loop.

One of the most popular technology trends for 2017 is the increased use of chatbots and Business Bots throughout the business world. Expect chatbot usage to greatly expand among software developers. The era of DevOps requires efficiency, communication, and collaboration, with chatbots and ChatOps making life easier for all.

Another notable 2017 business trend is Advanced Collaboration, and the use of chatbots is helping to make this reality happen for developers and other departments within many technology businesses.

Mobile App Development grows in Importance at Businesses

Mobile apps have been around since before the introduction of the iPhone. Their increased use at businesses of all sizes – especially at smaller organizations – is a predicted trend in the tech world for 2017. Nearly half of all small businesses are expected to leverage mobile apps in their daily operations over the next year, according to the mobile development platform, Biznessapps.

Software development shops focusing on business apps need to look at ramping up their Android and iOS development efforts. Java remains the language of choice for the majority of Android projects, while Swift is gaining on Objective-C for iOS initiatives.

Docker becomes Mainstream at Development Shops

Many businesses strive for continuous deployment to stay competitive in the modern business world. This is one of the reasons for the popularity of Agile as a methodology and DevOps or Tribes as an organizational structure. This places the onus on development teams to leverage a wide variety of tools to make processes more efficient, like Docker for migrating applications across virtual production, development, and QA environments.

In 2017, Docker, as well as other package-based tools, are expected to become commonplace at shops across most business sectors. Vagrant, which works like Docker but is able to package an entire environment, is another similar application now becoming the standard for managing virtual development environments. Virtualization and packages are now a must for nearly all application engineering shops.

Functional Programming keeps Cloud Servers running Smoothly

As more and more mobile devices connect to the Internet – with their users expecting a seamless experience – servers on the Cloud need to prevent becoming bogged down in a massive amount of traffic and requests. Enter functional programming. Functional languages, like Clojure and Scala, are essentially stateless, allowing them to run more efficiently in parallel on servers using different processor cores or in distributed environments.

2017 is expected to see a rise in popularity of these and other functional programming languages, given the continued growth of the Cloud and mobile device connectivity.

Keep an eye on these trends throughout the upcoming year to see if they come to fruition. Check back regularly at the Betica Blog for additional dispatches from the world of software development. Thanks for reading!

ChatOps — a Way to facilitate Agile and DevOps

Improved collaboration is at the core of the Agile and DevOps methodologies — especially the latter. All this interaction between technology professionals — developers, software testers, network engineers, and business stakeholders — requires enhanced and timely communication, either in person, over the phone, or increasingly using some form of messaging client. The speed of the software development process depends on it.

The term for this modern software engineering model is known as conversation-driven development, or a catchier moniker: ChatOps. Let’s take a closer look at ChatOps to see it makes sense to use it at your shop. Maybe it can supercharge your software development efforts?

A Closer Look at ChatOps

ChatOps takes the instant messaging communication model and enhances it by adding the capability for the chat bot being used to recognize certain commands and execute them as scripts. These scripts are used to run builds, message everyone on the team, or any number of relevant functions. A variety of open source chat bots (that are in turn compatible with different chat clients) are able to be configured to execute commands that work with build servers, deployment servers, and more.

Some of the chat clients able to be used with ChatOps include Campfire, Slack, and HipChat. They need to be paired with a chat bot, such as Hubot, Lita, and Err. Since the bots are all open source and written in popular languages, like Ruby or Python, modifying them to suit your team’s purposes shouldn’t be difficult.

Many software development pundits credit GitHub for devising the conversation-driven development model and coining the term, ChatOps. For an example of the methodology in action, Flowdock describes in a blog post how they implemented ChatOps as part of their development process.

Essentially, ChatOps adds a functional layer to the conversations at the heart of collaborative software development in the Agile era. The ability to perform some development tasks, like starting a build, deployment, or automated test scripts, while exchanging messages with the other members of a DevOps team simply adds efficiency to the entire process.

Agile continues to evolve how Software gets Written and Managed

ChatOps, in a similar manner as DevOps, is simply a continued evolution of Agile’s influence on software development. No longer do programmers and QA personnel sit in their cubicles working alone except for a daily meeting. Team members are able to interact through messaging, in addition to the added visibility and functionality provided by a chat client executing builds or notifying everyone when errors bubble out of a production server.

This model is especially effective when considering the widely distributed nature of many software development teams. The other programmers may be working in a different continent instead of in the same building. Additionally, leveraging automated tasks implemented using the chat bot reduces the adverse effects of human error on software projects.

In short, if Agile and/or DevOps is your methodology of choice, you need to consider using ChatOps to truly get the most out of your investment. It even offers advantages to any software development methodology.

Stay tuned to the Betica Blog for further insights from the world of software development.