As a custom software development company from Ukraine, Syndicode’s team has been accumulating expertise in building custom software products and solutions. Our experience allows our full-stack engineers to tailor projects specifically for our clients and create digital products that fill their needs. When designing a new product we pay a lot of attention to the software quality attributes and their impact on your business. In this material, we are revealing some of our secrets.
The notion of software quality
If you start to design software architecture for a new product, it is often difficult to estimate available design options and choose the right one. That sometimes occurs when the developers aren’t sure what criteria they should use for the right design. Some of them may think that their previous engineering experience can help. But the problem is that each development team member has a different experience, as well as opinions and assumptions.
The first thing we can do here is to recall the ground of software quality theory and that it refers to two related but distinct notions:
- Software functional quality reflects how well it complies with a given design, based on functional requirements. It’s important to take into consideration how it compares to competitors in the market as a worthwhile product.
- Software structural quality reflects how it meets non-functional requirements that support the delivery of the functional requirements, maintainability for example. It has a lot to do with the degree to which the software works.
Non-functional requirements are criteria for evaluating the performance of a software system. For example, attributes such as performance, security, usability, compatibility aren’t just features of the system but are a required characteristic.
A software product must have certain quality attributes to meet certain non-functional requirements. When we say that a software product is secure, portable, scalable, that are its quality attributes.
It is also important for developers to remember all non-functional requirements if they want to build a successful product. Changing quality attributes software architecture may be expensive in the later stages. That’s also useful to know what quality attributes shouldn’t be in the product architecture. In this case, the developers would know which qualities to sacrifice to meet the important requirements.
Software quality attributes to go through before starting the project
When a developer got to know what non-functional requirements he/she needs to have, it’s easier to understand what software quality attributes should be optimized for the architecture. While checking if everything goes well and if each attribute has its non-functional requirements, it’s good to have a comprehensive list of software architecture quality attributes to go through. We collected them and made such a list and gave definitions.
- Interoperability means the ability of software to be connected to other software systems and communicate with them. That’s how we can exchange the information. Here we can apply such measures like backward compatible APIs, programming language agnostic data format and many others.
- Reliability refers to the ability of software to function correctly under the given conditions. It also includes fault tolerance and recoverability.
- Availability covers the need for the software to be accessible and answer any request.
- Usability measures the extent to which a user can use it with ease. It can be increased and has a strong dependency between usability and other attributes.
- Security refers to confidentiality and authenticity. The user can also implement secure processes and performing two-factor authentication.
- Performance is measured by the response time, latency, measuring processing speed, response time, resource consumption, throughput, and efficiency. Here you need to create the right algorithms and data structures for the problem or load tests to detect regressions.
- Scalability reacts to the changes in the software. Here it’s important to take into consideration all the factors that can influence the result: number of users, new products in the market, the number of requests coming in, and number of developers.
- Extensibility means the ability to add functionality to a software component without touching the other parts.
- Adaptability refers to the ability to easily change the system according to the requirements. This can be possible by loose coupling and abstraction and it depends a lot on the configurability.
- Testability appears on the stages of building and automating tests of individual components. It is responsible for correct interactions between components and the software system as a whole. But sometimes it’s hard to detect an error in distributed software system architectures because components can be connected through an unreliable network, so different versions of services might exist.
- Auditability means the ability to perform audits of the software system. It can be caused by security reasons. That process involves all software systems to be secured for auditability.
- Observability creates a possibility for changes to be reflected in the software system. DevOps culture plays an important role here because the team responsible for changes is also responsible for operations.
- Operability means the level of the system to be deployed and operated during runtime. The software system operations are often supported by automation. Techniques like chaos engineering can check your operability to the test by creating errors on purpose.
There are many more attributes that can be inside the software system process as it all depends on the business you are running. They all can seem to be abstractive from the beginning but the more you will go through each of the security quality attribute, the more you get to understand which of them are important for you.
The reasons for the bad software and its impact on your business
Each IT company sometimes experience difficulties in designing good quality attributes in software architecture. Here are some of the reasons that can affect the appearance of a bad software product on the market:
- The technical manual is weak.
Good projects are never written instinctively. This is the result of organized and structured decisions. A strong leader sets the tone for the rest of the staff. All people, in one way or another, learn from the examples.
- Unclear responsibilities.
The developers need to have a clear understanding of their task. A clear task is a direct responsibility of the management. It is important not only to give them the opportunity to do great things but also to formulate all the conditions and measures on how to achieve this goal.
- No wish to test a code
A large number of projects are written without following the tests. There are sometimes no unit and integration tests. The code can be simply written, compiled and issued to clients.
- No wish to learn
The management can’t expect an employee to know everything and be aware of each technology, so training is necessary. A team of developers who don’t want to learn will only grow in the number of exactly the same employees. Remember that you have to have a curiosity to continue learning because programming is a lifelong learning process.
- Focus on short-term goals
Yes, it is possible to hand over a project without having completed all the appropriate tests, but good developers should understand the whole picture. By getting a good product at the exit, a developer creates a ground for others. If a new developer has to take up a project with a lot of unclear data, this ultimately will slow down the whole work.
It is important to understand that a bad product is a result that can be under control. Knowing and taking a step to prevent such a result is the way towards changes in teamwork. If a company builds its success on technology, software failure and application can have great consequences.
Bad software impact
Here are the most frequent scenarios for the businesses to end up when dealing with bad software:
- Loss of usage
- Bad reviews
- Freebies, discounts, and other perks to bring angry customers back
- Losses to competitors
- Brand damage and bad press
- Financial money pit
- Loss of faith in IT
What should be done to prevent these consequences? First of all, the managers need to monitor the whole process so that they can find a problem and address it as soon as possible. Secondly, the companies should communicate with users always, in all stages and with great transparency. Users need to know what to expect. And the last thing to remember, organizations have to take control under their development, testing, and marketing teams to identify what needs to be tested based. Knowing the user’s possible devices and what aspects of the experience are most important to them should inform testing to ensure quality.
By the way, not only software quality attributes should be considered. To run a successful business you have to embrace new technologies and hacks available nowadays. Do you want to know what innovations can grow your business and save money?
How to develop scalable, failure-resistant software?
The quality attributes are exactly to help you in developing a high-quality product. First of all, they all must be measurable in some way. This allows different teams to know when they did the right thing and completed all requirements.
To get a specific quality attribute, a good starting point will be writing a quality attribute scenario. This is a way to document possible needed testable quality attributes. Such a scenario is usually composed of six elements:
- Source of stimulus. Internal or external people, a computer system and other source creating stimulus.
- Stimulus: A response that arrives at a software.
- Environment: The environment where the stimulus takes place.
- Artifact: Reaction of the stimulus. Some component of the system.
- Response: The response of the artifact according to the received stimulus.
- Response measure: The measure that should be tested to test if the requirement is well performed.
The good thing is that for the most quality attributes (availability, interoperability, modifiability, performance, security, testability, usability) there already exist generic quality attribute scenarios with the most common issues that you need to be aware of. The prioritization of quality attributes make you pick the architecture and the choices that facilitate the priorities of your whole product.
In other words, a quality attribute is what makes a system good with respect to product requirements. Our advice is to choose professionals to work on your project/product that will be able to ensure compliance with all the requirements of developing high-quality software that can work smoothly, securely, quickly, on all devices, and for a long time. Read more on our blog about why do you need to hire from Ukraine. What a coincidence! Syndicode is Ukrainian software development agency!
p.s. What happens when functional requirements are formulated and software architect found the way how the system should work? For such cases, we created a short overview of 12 software architecture quality attributes and quality attributes types.