What is software?
The term software refers to the intangible, non-physical components that are part of electronic devices such as computers, smartphones, tablets, robots, and so on. Software is fundamental for the proper operation of an electronic equipment’s system, and it is made up of specially designed applications and programs for this purpose.
Software operates in different ways and with multiple functions to solve problems associated with devices and the needs of the users who use them. Programs and applications tell the hardware (the physical, tangible part of the devices) the steps to be taken through instructions.
What types of software are there?
Depending on its function, software may be:
- System: these programs let users interact with the system, in addition to serving as support for other programs. One example of this type of software is the operating system or server, such as iOS or Windows.
- Application: these programs are specifically designed and installed on the system by the user to perform one or more tasks simultaneously. They don’t have anything to do with the computer’s operation; they’re installed on it to provide functions. One example of this type of software is a video game or a web browser.
What are the requirement specifications for software?
The requirement specifications for software extensively and thoroughly describe the system behavior to be carried out. They establish the guidelines, the steps to follow, and practical examples of the interactions users can have with the software.
In this type of manual, there are functional and non-functional requirements; the latter pose restrictions at the design level or implementation of the system, which are complementary in nature, and they are not indispensable for the proper functioning of the system. The specification document is aimed at both the client who requests the design of the software as well as the development team.
A good requirements specification manual should follow these guidelines:
- Proper, thorough definition.
- Consistency: it must be consistent with the requirements established at the beginning.
- Clarity: the document should be drafted in such a way that its interpretation is clear and unambiguous.
- Traceability: it must enable the proper verification of user history, the location, or the application of a certain point or requirement through the proper storage and documentation.
- Prioritization: each requirement should be organized in order of importance for the client who wants to carry it out.
- Modifiable: it must offer the option of modification and ensure this is easy to perform.
- Verifiable: it must allow for being tested.
On the other hand, the requirements can be organized by type:
- System: components that the system must have to perform certain tasks.
- Functional: services that the system must provide after completion.
- Non-functional: those that are not related to the user’s tasks or operation, but are rather associated with the performance, portability, security, etc., of the system itself.
What are open-source software and free software?
Open-Source Software (OSS) is one of the most popular types. These are freely available programs with publicly available source code so that any user can change it. Open-source can even be contributory in nature.
While the terms open-source software and free software are often used interchangeably, there are slight differences between the two. The latter was a concept introduced around 1984 that sought to give value to the user’s freedom in terms of using programs. Software is considered free software when: it can be used for any purpose, can be studied to know how it works, copies can be distributed, and it can be improved by any user.
On the other hand, open-source software does not necessarily meet all four guidelines for free software. Often, the creators of open-source software are who modify and regulate the distribution of that software.