Nine best Java development methodologies for your business
By Jamie Mercer
When developing an application, there are several things a business will need to keep in mind, and one of those is which Java development methodology will be suitable for a project.
Creating a piece of Java software can be challenging. Your business will require a team of skilled developers to keep the build on track, and for that to happen, you’ll need to provide them with the right tools.
Choosing the right methodology can put you on the path to success, but with so many available to manage a given project, how do you know if you’re making the right decision?
When it comes down to building the software, you’ll need to adopt an approach that suits your needs, so FRG Technology Consulting has listed some of the top Java methodologies you should consider.
What is a software development methodology?
Before deciding on the development method that suits your business, you should have a basic grasp of what a methodology can offer your development team.
Full of extra features and practical ideas that help manage the production of an application, each methodology package includes specific ‘methods’ to help you meet project deadlines.
Methodologies are commonly used to assist the development by offering a strict plan and structure for each task to be completed. They normally fall under two categories, Agile and Waterfall, although there are some that buck that trend.
When deciding which method to introduce onto your development floor, you’ll need to make sure you plan thoroughly, and weigh up the positive and negatives of each methodology.
The Waterfall development method is one of the most traditional methodologies utilised by businesses, and is considered the classic method organisations should call upon to successfully develop Java software.
Providing teams with a sequential development cycle to follow, during which software production flows downwards like a Waterfall, it’s the only method that ensures all development tasks are fully completed.
A linear, rigid development model, it’s a very simple-to-understand method, which makes it perfect for use in a business scenario. Waterfall ensures each phase of a project is built, tested, reviewed, and delivered before a team moves onto the next.
This helps save time further down the line, as rigorous testing will have already taken place. Waterfall is perfect for projects that require a stable development environment and clear objectives.
Waterfall also works well with smaller applications, and if you have limited development resources, the methodology can assist with project management tasks to allow every member of your team to be involved in the development process.
While the Waterfall development method can be effective and complete projects quickly, one negative from using this method is there is no way to produce a working application until the model reaches its final stages.
During development, you’ll want to know whether your build has been a success, but if you’re unable to check this before the end of a project, it can lead to longer delays when your developers fix bugs and issues.
Another disadvantage of the waterfall model is you can only use it to develop an application if all of the requirements are known up front, as the methodology offers zero room for manoeuvre further down the line.
A further drawback to this model is there are zero opportunities to make changes to an application after moving it to the testing stage, which means you’re committed to using the code you’ve already put together to deploy an application.
Iterative development methodology
If your business favours the waterfall model, but you’re looking for something that is simpler to manage and maintain, the iterative development methodology could be the perfect alternative.
Breaking down large development projects into smaller, more-manageable chunks, the code used to build an application is developed and tested in repetitive cycles to make sure all of the features work correctly.
A positive of using this development methodology is that additional features can be developed and incorporated until the piece of software is fully functional and ready to be deployed.
Iterative development contrasts with the traditional waterfall method, as each phase of software development is gated, and coding won’t start until the design is fully approved. But it does offer more flexibility, thus providing your business the best of both worlds.
Skyrocketing to popularity in recent years, Agile is a disciplined software management process that allows for modifications to code and changes in development direction while an application is being created and deployed.
Becoming the most common methodology used in software development, overtaking the more traditional waterfall method, it is a highly structured way of development that favours individuals and interactions over processes and tools.
Minimizing the risk of exponential errors during the development process by using short time periods such as sprints, the Agile methodology allows all changes required by clients to be easily implemented before the testing of an application.
For this to successfully occur, there is a need for constant communication between the team of developers tasked with creating the software and the end user. It’s this stream of contact that allows for developers to respond to changes when they’re needed, rather than sticking to a plan.
A further positive of this methodology is that a working product is deployed after the completion of all coding and testing, whereas the Waterfall methodology requires added documentation before a piece of software can be launched.
Agile development comes in many different flavours, and one of the most favoured in a business scenario is Scrum. Derived from an action in the sport of rugby where every member of the team has a part to play to reach a specific goal, it follows the same logical thinking process.
Based on the strong concepts of software development, Scrum allows teams to break down coding and testing tests into biweekly or monthly iterations called sprints, during which they track progress through regular stand-up meetings.
When a team uses the Scrum methodology, their roles and responsibilities during development will never change, eradicating all aspects of unpredictability and increasing the continuous delivery of all elements in the software application.
By introducing the scrum into your business, you’ll come across three roles that members of your development team will need to become familiar with when creating any new parts of an application.
The product owner
This person has the vision and overview of the entire product, and how it should ultimately look when the product is finally complete. These guys and gals should be guiding developers down the right path and be available to answer questions if they arise.
Acting as the facilitator for the product owner and the team developing the piece of software, Scrum Masters work to remove any obstacles that developers will face when piecing an application together.
Also tasked with delivering new features to products owner, they’ll report back any necessary changes and new elements that end users would like introducing into the application during the next sprint.
The development team
If your scrum is running correctly, your development team should be self-sufficient. Tasked with organising and monitoring their own workload, a scrum team will be a mix of software engineers, programmers, QAs and testers who’ll work together to meet the sprint deadlines.
A lean, agile methodology, Kanban is a popular development method even though it offers much less structure than the likes of Scrum. A model that centres around introducing amendments to code through small incremental changes, it can be incorporated at any point during development.
Organising work in a Kanban board, developers will list their current workload into different sections depending on where in the development cycle they are. In fact, most businesses will have a list dedicated solely to code, testing, and debugging, where all tasks will be organised and ticked off after completion.
All about a continuous improvement, the visual framework used during the development methodology to tackle small changes simultaneously also allows for easier project management to occur during the development of an application.
Kanban is one of the least disruptive methods that a business can use to develop a piece of software. It starts with three foundational methods that centre on not making changes to your existing setup instantly and not making radical changes to your current setup.
Differing from other agile methodologies by not having predefined roles, and focusing on the continuous delivery, it gives developers a faster method to deliver a project, and allows them to balance the demand of tasks if there are a number of changes to software.
One negative of using the Kanban development methodology is that any variability or unpredictability can affect its function, so you’ll need to make sure it all goes to plan so your developers don’t receive mixed signals and lower production levels.
The big bang developer model
Often in the world of development, you’ll come across a client who isn’t fully aware of what requirements they have for a project and how the end application should look.
Generally used for smaller development projects, the Big Bang model is a straightforward development methodology that follows no formal procedure and takes very little planning to deploy and create an application.
One of the easiest methodologies to manage due to this lack of planning and formal interference from external sources, Big Bang can be a productive way to give new developers the chance to hone their skills before letting them loose on larger projects.
But with all positives, there are of course negatives, and the primary issue associated with this methodology is that it isn’t recommended for use with complex or larger-scale projects.
You can also face problems if your development team is unable to meet the client’s requirements, and if that happens to be the case, you may have to restart the entire project from scratch.
Rapid Application Development (RAD)
Offering a quicker and more precise development methodology than its counterparts, RAD is designed to achieve higher-quality results by accelerating the entire development process.
Allowing active user participation during development, RAD helps reduce the potential of risks that can occur, as the end user will perform a quick review of the code and application to ensure it meets their requirements.
One thing you’ll need if you choose to use this method to complete your applications is a team of developers who have strong business knowledge as well as top-class Java expertise, as they’ll need to identify the exact requirements of the end user.
A further consideration you’ll need to make before choosing this methodology is the budget of a project, as this may not be suitable for many businesses due to the high cost margin of modelling and automated code generation.
Predominantly used for creating software in volatile environments, XP is another agile methodology that allows for greater flexibility during the modelling process.
Aimed at lowering the costs incurred by an end user when building a piece of software, the method is focused deeply on customer involvement and also forces the end user to commit to a schedule for the software to undergo development, testing and deployment.
Although this methodology can produce high-quality software with a limited amount of effort, XP is only as effective as the developers charged with completing a project.
A further concern with this methodology is the amount of development change that can occur during the software development process. Too many changes can lead to the developers becoming overrun with extra work, which can lead to more delays.
This development model does exactly what it says on the tin. Having your development team complete a prototype of the application before the start of the major coding phase, it ensures all of the project needs are met and understood by everyone working on the software.
While this may seem a counterproductive option, as creating a prototype can slow down the development process due to the extra workload. The creation of this prototype will allow the end user to preview the final product, and then change the look and feel if they’re not happy with the first outcome.
In the development world, the sentiment of being safe rather than sorry rings particularly true when it comes to deploying an application. Testing is a vital part of the development process, and this methodology favours this above all others.
Focusing on the risk testing during the development of software, it is a welcome compromise for businesses that need to also operate with high risk factors when they’re creating new applications.
Although it allows your development team to regularly identify risks and eradicate them before they’ve had a chance to take hold, the negative attributes often outweigh the positives when it comes to using this methodology.
One further issue your business can face is the cost to implement the Spiral Model successfully. The tools to monitor the risks you can potentially uncover won’t come cheap, and if you’re running to a strict budget when it comes to development, it can put added financial strain on your business.
Each of these development methodologies have their strengths and weaknesses and, as each work effectively in different situations, you may need to combine a number of them together to complete a project.
Many businesses now favour the agile methodology due the flexibility and speed afforded with the development methodology. But whether you’re a start-up or large enterprise you’ll need to find the one that suits your exact needs.
More often than not, it won’t come down to which of the above methodologies you actually use, it’s actually more about having some sort of structure to help your development process run smoothly and without any issues.