Custom Software Apps & SharePoint Consulting

Understanding the Different Types of Software Development

The global applications development market size grew to $260.79 billion in 2022 and is projected to reach $915.96 billion by 2027, recording a CAGR of 28.6% between 2023 and 2027. But what is contributing to this soaring growth?

It turns out that organizations are looking for solutions that meet the specialized and complex needs of their growing businesses, not forgetting the fiercely competitive environment. Personalized experience is a key goal for most organizations.

As such, there’s a rising demand for software that is not only efficient but also adaptive to a diverse range of environments. For instance, a large organization with thousands of employees may approach a custom software development company for an employee portal where their employees can accomplish common needs at their convenience.  An employee can, for instance, log in from their phones, wherever they are, and apply for leave. They do not need to come to the office to fill forms, or inform their managers to find a stand-in colleague. The software does everything. This is just an example of the level of personalization that is being sought. 

These diverse and complex business needs have given rise to equally diverse types of software development. So much that now, software is no longer just the traditional rigid type that defined the software development landscape for a long time. Instead, today’s software is broken down into many different types, mostly distinguished by what the software intends to achieve. 

This guide discusses the different types of software development, including the popular programming languages and frameworks employed in each type.

The main types of software development

  1. Front vs Back-end development
  2. Web development
  3. Mobile app development
  4. Desktop software development
  5. Cloud computing development
  6. Video game development
  7. Security software development
  8. API development
  9. Embedded systems development
  10. Software tools  development

Let’s discuss each at a time.

Also Read: Custom Software vs. Off-the-Shelf Software 

1. Front & Back-end development

When you go to a website or use an application, you notice the different sections you can visit, the colors, styles, graphics and alignment of content on the pages. That’s the client-facing side of a website or application.

Essentially, front-end development employs scripting languages such as JavaScript, HTML and CSS to shape and structure the product for an optimized user experience.

Popular frameworks for front-end development

  • Bootstrap
  • EmberJS
  • AngularJS

The knowledge of Ajax, JQuery, UI and UX skills is also significant for front-end development.

On the other hand, back-end development focuses on server-side logic to ensure all the components, including databases and different modules, communicate. It involves integrating modules, creating libraries and writing APIs for seamless integration.

Programming languages for back-end development

  • Python
  • .Net
  • Ruby

Popular back-end development frameworks

  • Django for Python
  • Laravel for PHP
  • Spring for Java

Database technologies such as Microsoft SQL Server, Oracle and MySQL are also important in designing application databases.

Front-end and back-end development are inseparable. The front-end development determines how the website or application appears, and the back-end development determines how it works. 

For instance, with front-end development, you click the register button to enter your details. The back-end development allows the application to save your details on its database.

While some developers specialize in either front or back-end development, other developers handle both as full-stack developers..

2. Web app development

Web development involves designing, building, deploying and maintaining websites and web applications. Unlike mobile apps, web development allows users to access the application through the browser on multiple devices over the internet.

Web development follows the same procedure from requirements gathering through design, coding, testing, deployment and maintenance. However, the complexities of the applications differ from a single page to multiple pages.

A good example of a web application is the Google Office Suite, which encompasses multiple web pages such as Google Docs, Google Workspace, etc.

The languages and frameworks used in front-end and back-end development, including scripting languages, Python programming language and database technologies such as MySQL, are ideal for creating web applications.

3. Mobile app development

Mobile app development involves building applications that are accessible through digital assistants, tablets and smartphones.

Studies have shown that 85 percent of consumers prefer mobile apps to traditional websites. And with the rapid global spread of smartphone users,  mobile apps have become more of a need than a preference. This is because they are more reliable, convenient and easily accessible compared to websites.

Some applications come preinstalled on the device, and you can download as many applications as you need from the mobile app store or mobile app browser for both Android and iOS operating systems.

There are two major types of mobile app development:

  • Native app development: Building a mobile app that runs on a single platform or operating system such as Android or iOS.
  • Hybrid app development: Building a mobile app that can be deployed across multiple platforms such as Windows, Android and iOS.

Popular programming languages and frameworks for mobile app development

  • Android development: Java and Kotlin
  • iOS development: Swift
  • Multi-platform development (iOS and Android): Javascript and React Native framework

Examples of native mobile apps include Spotify and WhatsApp, while hybrid mobile apps include Instagram and Twitter.

4. Desktop software development

Desktop software development involves locally building applications for operating systems that run on laptops and desktops, such as Microsoft Windows, macOS and Linux. It’s the creation of programs that can be installed on a laptop or desktop to run directly on the system.

Desktop software development is widely used in enterprise applications, data analysis & visualization software, scientific & engineering applications, graphic design & multimedia applications. Examples of such applications include Adobe Photoshop and VLC media player.

Popular desktop application development programming languages

  • Python
  • Typescript
  • Node.js
  • Java
  • C#
  • PHP

Like mobile app development, desktop software development has frameworks that help build software programs that run on a single platform, such as Windows or macOS and cross-platform frameworks that help adapt the program to different operating systems.

Popular desktop application development frameworks

  • Windows: Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF) for UI/UX design, Universal Windows Platform (UWP)
  • macOS: Cocoa, SwiftUI
  • Linux: GIMP Toolkit (GTK), 
  • Cross-platform: Electron, Xamarin, React Native, NativeScript

Also Read: How to Choose the Best Software Solution for Your Business

5. Cloud computing development

This approach employs agile and DevOps methodologies to build, test, deploy and run software services in the cloud environment. 

Cloud computing development is one of the fastest-growing approaches as it can largely accommodate the latest technologies, such as machine learning, artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things (IoT), for unlimited, real-time and efficient data processing.

The demand to utilize cloud resources has given rise to three types of cloud development:

Cloud-native development

This approach involves continuous development/integrations, niching down cloud applications into smaller services that can be accessed independently for increased accessibility, flexibility and scalability.

Examples of cloud-native applications include Netflix and Airbnb.

Cloud-enabled development

This approach entails moving on-premise software to a cloud environment by refactoring the code to work with virtual cloud resources while retaining the underlying on-premise architecture. 

The approach limits applications from reaching optimum scalability and availability due to the on-premise architecture.

Cloud-based development

To find a balance between cloud-native and cloud-enabled development, cloud-based development offers the availability and scalability of cloud services without changing the application code. 

For instance, you can move your web application to a cloud service provider’s server without altering the underlying code. You are no longer responsible for managing the application’s resources and only pay for the resources you use.

Popular programming languages for cloud computing development

  • Java
  • PHP
  • NET
  • Python
  • Golang
  • Ruby
  • Node.js

6. Video game development

Video game development involves transforming a game idea into a playable reality through coding the visual elements and user interfaces, then testing iterations until the game is market ready.

Video game developers incorporate game logic, artificial intelligence and visuals to convert a game designer’s storyboards and design into an executable program.

The video game development industry is rapidly evolving to accommodate in-demand technologies such as Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) gaming, AI and esports. All these advancements have greatly contributed to the industry’s soaring growth.

Organizations looking to venture into the video development market can utilize game development kits for a single platform, such as Xbox, or use existing engines, such as Unreal Engine, to build video games. 

Alternatively, you can work with a team of developers to develop your own game engine by building a game from scratch, establishing yourself as experts in the industry.

Popular programming languages for game development

  • C++
  • Java
  • C#
  • Python 
  • Javascript

Examples of video game applications include Fishdom and Coinmaster.

7. Security software development

Security software development involves designing and developing, testing and deploying software applications that promote the integrity, confidentiality and accuracy of data.

The developers leverage secure coding practices, data encryption techniques, and access control measures to build software that is resilient against cyber attacks and threats.

With statistics showing that many firms are receiving an average of 1248 attacks weekly, the global security software market size continues to blast. Most organizations now prefer acquiring sophisticated security software to recruiting more security staff.

The preference is driven by the changing nature and frequency of cyber security attacks, which increasingly call for real-time threat identification and mitigation. 

As a result, security software developers have been investing in creating software that can automatically identify, analyze and respond to incidents and threats in real time. 

These security software are based on machine learning and deep learning technologies. These technologies can help detect different versions of a cyber attack through inbuilt algorithms and pattern-matching techniques.

Popular languages for security software

  • Python
  • Shell Scripting
  • HTML
  • Javascript
  • SQL

8. API development 

Have you ever linked your Facebook account to Instagram such that whenever you post on Instagram, your post is automatically posted on Facebook as well? This is possible thanks to API development.

API (Application Programming Interface) acts as an interface between applications. This interface allows the applications to communicate with each other. API development, therefore, is the creation of instructions, requirements, or standards that allows an application to use the services or data of another application.

Additionally, instead of writing each functionality from scratch, you can integrate new programs into existing software through API. Leveraging existing code reduces the delivery time. It’s no wonder many businesses are investing in developing APIs for their applications.

Popular programming languages for API development

  • Python
  • Flask
  • Node.js
  • Express

9. Embedded systems development

Have you ever wondered how some household appliances, such as washing machines or microwaves, operate? They have dedicated systems (microcontrollers) designed to accomplish a specific task. These are what we refer to as embedded systems.

Embedded systems development involves creating programs that run within a larger system, machine or device. 

From smart devices such as digital watches to medical devices such as CT scanners and MRI, embedded systems development blends hardware design and software development to accurately and efficiently control the operation of the hardware.

The software program can only operate efficiently within the hardware for which it was designed.

Popular programming languages for embedded systems

  • C
  • C++
  • Java
  • Python
  • Assembly language

10. Software tools development

Every software is designed to solve a particular problem. And there are programs, utilities or applications designed to help software developers easily design, develop, test, deploy and maintain other software.

Think of IDEs, code editors, version control systems, documentation generators, containerization and deployment tools. These tools provide an organized and controlled way of building software. They enhance developers’ experience in creating software solutions.

Examples of software tools include Docker and Kubernetes, which help pack applications into containers for deployment in various cloud environments for optimum resource utilization.

Popular programming languages for developing software tools

  • Python
  • C++
  • Java
  • Javascript
  • C#
  • Ruby

Conclusion: Diversity in software development is healthy 

The ever-changing business needs have largely contributed to the rise in diverse types of software development. 

As organizations embrace digitalization and try to cope with the fast-paced market demands, the need for more niche-based solutions arises.

Here are some of the most competitive market demands contributing to the rise in different types of software development:

  • The need for customizable and scalable solutions
  • The need for a personalized user experience (human-centered software solutions)
  • Data-driven decision-making for predictive analysis and business intelligence
  • Cross-platform compatibility for deployment in different platforms and environments
  • Security and compliance to protect user data from breaches
  • Effective collaboration and communication to promote teamwork

Meeting these market demands requires continuous innovation around the technologies that power software development . Hence, we can expect even more sophisticated types of software development.

Different projects may require distinct approaches, and having a diverse range of software options enables organizations to select the best-fit solutions.

While here, please have a look at why many people prefer custom software

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