Software Engineering Principles

Software engineering principles, when executed consistently and properly, ensure that your software development process continually runs smoothly, efficiently and delivers high-quality applications. By following software engineering principles, all members of your team will have a better grasp of how your software is built and how they each contribute to the process.

What is Software Engineering and Its Characteristics?

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Software engineering is a branch of engineering that focuses mainly on the development and maintenance of software products. Software engineers build said software using the same (or similar) language that is bound by sets of software engineering principles, methodologies, and best practices.


Software engineering eventually results in a product that is efficient and effective at solving a problem or fulfilling a duty. Following software engineering principles helps to ensure that the product is reliable and safe for customers.

The IEEE defines software engineering as:
1. The application of a systematic, disciplined, quantifiable approach to the development, operation, and maintenance of software; that is, the application of engineering to software.

Software engineering is difficult and complex – it almost always requires teams of people to work together to come up with a result that is effective and blends in seamlessly with the existing software and hardware.

Characteristics of Software Engineering

Software engineering starts out in theory – which goes against many other components of software engineering which emphasize clarity and simplicity.

To start software engineering, IT leaders must think through a problem before trying to build a solution. This is one of the most critical parts of the project and may include various people from many sectors of the company.

Then, the key is to break down that problem and try to find the smaller issues that can be worked on independently. One of the most important characteristics of software engineering is trying to solve simple problems at the same time, which will result in a more substantial problem getting solved as well.

Using software testing tools, one can easily see where mistakes pop up and how those problems can be solved. It is essential to have the software engineering team look at these mistakes so that they can pivot and avoid making those mistakes time and time again.

Software Engineering Process

The software engineering process is one that is complicated, but with discipline, education and guidance it can become predictable. You will likely have the same steps with each product, though the time you spend on each level will vary depending on your goals and team. A software engineering process is the model chosen for managing the creation of software from initial customer inception to the release of the finished product.

The steps of the software engineering process include:

  1. Analysis
  2. Design
  3. Coding
  4. Testing
  5. Maintenance

Several software engineering process models exist and vary mainly in the frequency, application and implementation of the above techniques, for example, different process models use different analysis techniques, other models attempt to implement the solution to a problem in one big-bang approach, while others adopt an iterative approach whereby successively larger and more complete versions of the software are built with each iteration of the process model.

Fundamentals of Software Engineering Principles

There are many fundamentals of software engineering – so many that some will get lost over time. Every software engineer has his or her own set of “fundamentals” that they will pass on – fundamentals that even as technology changes, are still appropriate for everyday building.

  • Do not work for the future is one of the basic fundamentals of software engineering. It is great to think ahead and plan for a future, but that is often just a waste of time and resources. Focus on building reliable, effective code that you can use in the present.
  • You don’t want to repeat yourself. Code is reusable, which is why it has been around for so long. One of the great parts about it is that if you have a problem with the code somewhere and you fix it, you can repeat that fix everywhere. If you try out a new piece of code in one place and it works great, it doesn’t take long to move that code throughout your application. The fundamentals of software engineering make it so that you can change things quickly and easily without having to do too much extra work.
  • Remember open source. One of the biggest time wasters in software engineering is building code to do something that someone has probably already written. This is something simple that is fundamental to the operations of your application. There are so many open source options out there. When you have tools that can check your code and keep your software up to date, you will be able to use code from everywhere without having to worry that it will cause a break somewhere.
  • Think services. If you write code that does one thing really well, you have succeeded. Do not try to do too much with your code or you will go against the software engineering best practices – and have quite a mess on your hands if it does ever break down. Remember that while complex code might look better, readable code is always better. The member of your software engineering team that wrote the code might not be there when you get an alert that something is going wrong, so you want to make everything self-explanatory.

These fundamentals of software engineering aren’t in place to make things easier for you in the present day, though they do that as well. They are in place so that when you need to make changes somewhere down the line, you will have a team that understands everything and can focus on them.

Software Engineering Methodologies

While there are many different software engineering methodologies out there, it is important to note that a lot of the language used is similar enough that people “get” it. Still, it is essential to know that finding and fixing a software problem after it has already been deployed is much, much more expensive than it would be to find it during the design phase. Using a tool to find those bugs and fix them early can be a budget saver. Why is this so effective? Because at least half of the errors in a finished product were committed early on in the design stage.

CAST Engineering Dashboard

CAST Engineering Dashboard helps delivery organizations that you are living up to your commitment to deliver high-quality products that help your company serve its clients.

Our Engineering Dashboard works to:

  • Quickly identify any multi-component software flaws
  • Validate against industry standard rules for security and risk
  • Identifies specific code location of critical flaws in software
  • Finds architectural flaws inside the riskiest objects and transactions
  • Builds action plans based on an optimized list of high impact issues
  • Gives insight into why specific defects are occurring and guidelines for fast remediation

For more information about CAST Engineering Dashboard or any of our other products, contact us today or schedule a free demo.

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