Understanding the Full Range of the Software Stack

Traversing the Software Stack

The components that are necessary for winning software are essentially the same across industry, user, and the application’s purpose. Companies can choose the best development path by first understanding the full range of the software stack.

User Interface

One might argue that the user interface is the most critical component of software development. Why? Because your end-user interacts with the front-end design. It’s their first impression. Perhaps their only impression. It’s valid to say that if your user is presented with an unappealing and complicated screen, there’s a chance you lose them before the application has a chance to show what it can do. So, from that perspective, yes, interface design makes a major contribution to the user experience.

The user interface must be simple, yet attractive, and the layout must draw attention to important content headlines. Interactive objects are of foremost consideration. Clarity is key. Great designers know that the user should not be required to think. Menus, buttons, forms, and other call-to-action items should be easy to identify and easier to use.

Circling back to the ranking importance of each stack component, what happens when a user clicks on a registration button and nothing happens? Read on.

Client Platform

Software has an obligation to perform perfectly and equally well on various operating systems and across all screen sizes available to the user.

In the not so distant past, designated operating systems determined how desktop software was built. Simply put, programs were either developed to work on Windows or a Mac (ok, mostly on just Windows). IoT and cloud computing has completely changed this paradigm. If you’re developing cloud-based software, your team needs to understand the role of Platform as a Service and Infrastructure as a Service technologies (such as Amazon Web Services or Microsoft Azure).

Another challenge is assuring your software will work on mobile platforms. True cross-platform mobile development ensures that the native application operates consistently across Android, iOS, and other mobile operating systems, while still meeting the unique experience demands of each platform. Comprehensive testing is critical.

Client platform performance is another component that affects the overall user experience. Getting back to the point previously made, an exquisite and fine-tuned user interface is worthless if it doesn’t perform well on your user’s device.

Communication

A scalable communication interface connects systems across a room or across the globe. This is how software does its job –  through the design of the application’s information flow.

New digital innovations in communications are born nearly every week. When making these technology decisions, the available options far exceed the desirable ones. You need an expert on your software team who can stay abreast of this ever-changing world. With this, the ideal solution for your product can be extracted through a precise vetting system.

Great software designers can confidently and successfully use the best of these revolutionary infant technologies while avoiding the transient ones that are here today, gone tomorrow. To leverage communication innovations, development should use a “Swiss Army Knife” style. Understanding how a new interface can integrate with your current technology choices will result in an efficient and versatile communication platform.

Servers

Enterprise frameworks and distributed systems are built with cutting-edge technologies. Traditionally known as full-stack development, expertise in the server portion of the software stack requires skills in both front-end and back-end technologies.

Even if it isn’t obvious, most applications used daily are connecting to a back-end cloud server in one form or another, and many use IoT technology. Whether you’re interacting with a web-based GUI, or you’re using a mobile app that syncs its data across all your devices, the server infrastructure is a critical component of the overall experience.

Building with the future in mind entails thinking through how the system will scale when your solution requires 1,000, 10,000 or even 100,000 end points. It requires not only robust, modular coding, but also IT infrastructure and failover expertise. Above all, your quality assurance disciplines must be top-notch to ensure that your solution is ready to handle the broad spectrum of failure scenarios generated by your global user base.

Databases

As a foundational element to any connected solution, the underlying data models and storage technology must be built to last. This absolute requirement is well understood in the industry. But in today’s fast-paced agile world with emerging IoT opportunities, the key is to start small, leaving room to grow.

As with each stack component, database development is a discipline that requires a specific area of expertise. Cloud storage addresses the ever-growing need for data. Robust architectures, such as SQLServer, mongoDB, and PostgreSQL can supply secure and widely available data storage to all your connected client devices. Meanwhile, mature micro-infrastructures like Realm and SQLite power your mobile application to cache data for fast retrieval in the palm of a user’s hand. Whichever solution is determined for your software program, be sure that security is in the vanguard of its data system.

In many cases, your database will live on for the life of your solution, even while mobile and front-end technologies are changed out. Be sure that interoperability and scalability are set goals during the architecture stage.

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