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General Software Features and Trends


General Software Features and Trends

Introduction

Now a days software projects are becoming more and more complex — in size, sophistication, and technologies used. Most software products are used by huge number of people, not only that, these software support different national languages and come in different sizes and shapes — desktop, standard, professional, Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) packages and so on. Almost all application software products (like word processors, ERP packages) support more than on hardware and/or software platform. For example, we have web browsers for the PC and Mac; we have database management systems that run on MVS, UNIX, Windows NT, and Linux and so on. The competition and the advancements in technology are driving software vendors to include additional functionality and new features to their products— just to stay in business. The Information Technology is revolutionizing the way we live and work. The digital technology has given mankind the ability to treat information with mathematical precision, to transmit it at very high accuracy and to manipulate it at will.



Features: 

The following are the trends that play a vital role in the development of software products:

Ease of use

The software systems are applications are becoming more and more easy to use. Software developers and system analysts are concerned for ensuring that the software they develop are user-friendly than their competitor’s products. The user interfaces are more intuitive, the error messages are more descriptive, there is context sensitive help, and there are wizards and templates to help the user when one encounters a problem.

Graphical User Interface (GUI)

Today’s software applications and products provide users with intuitive, graphical and easy- to-use interfaces. Now the users do not have to remember the cryptic system commands or shortcut keys that were a must in the character based era. Now almost any tasks can be accomplished by a mouse click. For example, in a DOS environment, to copy a file one needs to know the command for copying files, its exact syntax and so on, whereas in the Windows environment, you just have to drag the files you want to copy from the source to destination.

Requirement of more powerful hardware

Because software vendors are incorporating more and more features into their products these software need more and powerful machines to run. They need more main memory, more secondary storage, and faster and powerful processors. It is also not very difficult to go for new powerful computers as the price of computers are decreasing day by day.

Multi-platform capability

Today’s software applications are not developed for just one platform. Most of the software applications supports multiple platforms— both hardware and software platforms. There are software applications that support hardware platforms ranging from mainframes to PCs and different software platforms like MVS, Solaris, AIX, UNIX, Windows and so on. Database like IBM’s DB2 Universal is available for a variety of hardware and software platforms. Another important feature of today’s software application is that they support multiple languages and multiple currencies. Many vendors are providing their application in many languages like English, Arabic, Japanese and Chinese and so on.

Network Capabilities

Network computers are becoming popular as they can work with minimal memory, disk storage and processor power. These computers are connected to a network especially the Internet. The idea behind network computers is that many users who are connected to a network don’t need all the computer power they get from a typical personal computer. Instead, they can rely on the power of the network servers. As the popularity of network computers increase, the demand for software that can run these computers are increasing and the software applications of today and tomorrow will have that capability.

Compatibility with other software

Now a day’s most of the software products are compatible with each other. For example, we can import HTML documents and other text documents into a Microsoft Word document. Also as newer versions of software are released, most vendors maintain backward
compatibility i.e. compatibility with earlier versions. These two features— backward compatibility and compatibility with other products make it easier for the users, as they can choose the application they want and still use the old files they created using other
applications or using older versions of the same application.

Object Linking and Embedding

We have mechanism to interact with other software systems. One of the methods to integrate external tolls into an application is using the Object Linking and Embedding (OLE) architecture to link or embed a component from another application running on the computer. OLE is a compound document standard developed by Microsoft Corporation. It enables us to create objects with one application and then link or embed them into a second application. This embedding and linking of components enables applications to share components.

Group work capabilities

Technologies, which support collaboration, are in greater demand today than ever before. Therefore, vendors are integrating collaborating technologies into their products. Distributed work forces, information overload, and getting products to market as quickly as possible are just a few of the motivational aspects pushing collaboration technology development.

Mail Enabling

The mail enabling of an application is the process through which email is gradually replacing many of the single purpose applications now used on personal computers. In its simplest form, a mail-enabled application is a Windows program that has a ‘Send’ command in its ‘File’ menu. For example, the Microsoft Word 2000 has a ‘Send To’ menu item in the ‘File’ menu where we can choose to send the document to a mail recipient, fax recipient and so on.

Web Enabling

With the ever-increasing popularity of Internet and the amount of information that is available on the net, most software application is now web-enabled. Web enabling helps the user in many different ways. During installation, most of the applications will automatically connect the Internet and to the vendor’s web site and will register their products (earlier one had to fill in a paper form and mail or fax it to the vendor).

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