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13.1: Software Development Life Cycle – Waterfall

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    Let us start with an overview of the waterfall model such as you will find in most software engineering textbooks. This waterfall figure, seen in Figure \(\PageIndex{1}\), illustrates a general waterfall model that could apply to any computer system development. It shows the process as a strict sequence of steps where the output of one step is the input to the next and all of one step has to be completed before moving onto the next.

    Figure \(\PageIndex{1}\): Waterfall model ("Software Development Life Cycle – Waterfall" by Patrick McClanahan is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0)

    We can use the waterfall process as a means of identifying the tasks that are required, together with the input and output for each activity. What is important is the scope of the activities, which can be summarized as follows:

    • Establishing requirements involves consultation with, and agreement among, stakeholders about what they want from a system, expressed as a statement of requirements.
    • Analysis starts by considering the statement of requirements and finishes by producing a system specification. The specification is a formal representation of what a system should do, expressed in terms that are independent of how it may be realized.
    • Design begins with a system specification, produces design documents and provides a detailed description of how a system should be constructed.
    • Implementation is the construction of a computer system according to a given design document and taking into account the environment in which the system will be operating (e.g., specific hardware or software available for the development). Implementation may be staged, usually with an initial system that can be validated and tested before a final system is released for use.
    • Testing compares the implemented system against the design documents and requirements specification and produces an acceptance report or, more usually, a list of errors and bugs that require a review of the analysis, design and implementation processes to correct (testing is usually the task that leads to the waterfall model iterating through the life cycle).
    • Maintenance involves dealing with changes in the requirements or the implementation environment, bug fixing or porting of the system to new environments (e.g., migrating a system from a standalone PC to a UNIX workstation or a networked environment). Since maintenance involves the analysis of the changes required, design of a solution, implementation and testing of that solution over the lifetime of a maintained software system, the waterfall life cycle will be repeatedly revisited.

    13.1: Software Development Life Cycle – Waterfall is shared under a not declared license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by LibreTexts.

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