How Can Software Development Be Automated?

While software development is still a very creative industry, many parts of it imply lots of dull work that is rather logical than creative. So, a question arises: can software development be automated, and if yes, then how? With, you indeed can benefit from automation, but first, let’s see where it applies.

Can a Developer Be Replaced?

If you have no clear image of automation, you may think that it means code written by bots. These images may be fostered by news, for example, about AlphaCode by Deep Mind, a neural network for autonomous coding. Still, the best things these systems generate so far are clickable headlines. In real life, you cannot make an interface with a single make-it-perfect button.

One should rather compare automation with army regulations or legal procedures. The meaning of them is not to get everything done by CPUs instead of human brains (though this is great). Procedures and algorithms mean that prescribed actions lead to predictable results, which saves time and effort while getting the results. It’s hard, though, to separate it with software automation: the two go together all the way.

Which Parts of the Process Can Be Automated?

While you cannot so far get a robot to create a software product from scratch (and that’s great unless you want Skynet to take over and send a T-800 for your ex), there are elements of automation that certainly apply to software development. And it’s not about getting a bot to write the code. It’s rather about automating certain parts of the process that include:

  • Single code repository. Instead of distributing copies independently, everyone involved gets the same source code or its original blocks. The compiled versions are also the same due to common code.
  • Build process. It’s automated, so subsequent versions of the software are also identical, whoever fetches them. There can be an automatic builder module within the project, but if builds are made by human coders, they follow certain guidelines that ensure the result.
  • Automated updates when testers return the results and define what should be changed.
  • Testing and development environments are as close as possible, maybe even replicated, which provides perfect conditions for both testing and implementing required changes.
  • Automated testing. The most formal parts of this job can be done by software solutions. In the perfect world, every time a new build is submitted, it should automatically launch testing procedures.
  • Testing should be done in varying environments. Every change in the software should be followed by a general test.

Where Do We Go?

Automated software development not only saves time and effort; it also grants that the product will work as planned in various environments. So while planning your software development life cycle, you should think of where to apply automated solutions, where they are the most required (given your budget, personnel, deadlines, etc.), and when they are possible at all.

If you have any experience of using automated processes in software development, you can share them in the comments. We’d like to read more cases from those involved and informed.