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Saturday, October 4, 2014

What is Adaptive Software Development (ASD)?

There are many a software development processes, with adherents and proponents for each one of them. Here we discuss about one of them i.e., ASD or Adaptive Software Development. This process is a result of Sam Bayer’s and Jim Highsmith’s efforts concerning RAD process i.e., rapid application development. ASD is based up on the principle that the development process must be continually adapted to the work at hand as a normal affair.
This development process is sometimes used as a replacement for the traditional waterfall approach. The steps in the waterfall model are replaced with repetitive sets of cycles of speculation, collaboration and learning. This cycle is quite dynamic in nature and allows us to maintain a continuous learning process. It also makes it easy to adapt to the project’s next state. An ASD life cycle is characterized by the following characteristics:
• Mission – focused
• Feature -  based
• Iterative
• Timeboxed
• Risk driven
• Tolerant to changes

Here by speculation we mean “paradox of planning”. Adaptive software development assumes that in the mission of a project, fault in certain aspects of it can be traced to all stakeholders’ mistakes. These mistakes are usually made while defining the requirements of the project. Efforts concerning the maintenance of work balance and environment and adapting to the changes in the environment (caused mainly due to requirements, technology, software vendors, stakeholders and so on) come under collaboration.
The learning cycle on the other side consists of many short iterations involving designing, building and testing. The aim of these iterations is to gather knowledge based up on small mistakes made and based up on false assumptions and then correcting them. This leads to great experience in the domain.
A lot of money and time goes into developing a piece of software, but it still proves to be brittle in some unexpected situations. Then how does adaptive software development makes it better? As the name suggests, ASD is focused up on development of such programs that are capable of readily adapting in the event of changes resulting from user requirements and development environment. It includes an explicit representation of the actions that the program can take and also the goals of the user. With this it becomes possible for the user to change the goals without rewriting the code. It is often used for producing what we call as the agent based applications.
We also have object - oriented programming and structured programming methodologies for developing software. With object – oriented approach the reorganization is easy with the changes because here we divide the functionality in to different classes. But still it requires the programmer to intervene to make some change. Therefore, this approach is kept confined to developing user – initiated event based applications. The structured programming was used to develop input/output based applications only since it cannot tolerate any changes in the specifications. The database managing programs are a typical example of this kind of applications.
There are several other methodologies for developing software. But they only provide solution for managing the changes rather dealing with them. It’s only adaptive software development that gives a real way of adapting to the change and dealing with it without having a programmer’s intervention. The best thing about adaptive software development is that it collects information about the environmental changes and uses it for improvement of the software. But today’s complex software and operating environments are making it less effective. Factors such as increasing number of users, systems, number of interactions, resources and goals etc. lead to complexity of the software. Now apart from time and space, programmers have to look out for money, security, resolution and so on.

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