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Desktop Application Software is a computer software designed for desktop user to help user achieve certain task or activities, classified as per black-box approach (i.e., based on the input and output) or more specifically, based on programming language, operating system (platform-specific or cross-platform), use rights (open or closed source) or purpose (use of software).
An application that is designed and intended to work in a desktop PC environment is called a desktop application. The resources like processor capacity, RAM and power supply are not so limited for a desktop application. The desktop applications reside on the secondary memory of a computer - be it hard drive, pendrive, flash drive or external hard drive, and use the operating system and other hardware resources like primary memory (RAM) to execute. The development of a desktop application is platform dependent i.e., the operating system used.
It is really needed to know about the operating systems widespread in the market before we dive further more into desktop application development. Windows, Mac OS, and Linux are the most common operating systems used in the desktop environment. Windows and Mac OS are too bought and used. Windows is a paid operating system that can be installed on almost any hardware. Mac OS is a paid UNIX-based operating system distributed by Apple Inc., along with their proprietary hardware. Linux comes both in open source platform and in paid versions. For example, Ubuntu is a Linux distribution, where the operating system itself is free but the support is paid.
When talking about application software, there are three paradigms - mobile applications, desktop applications, and web applications. Every software application is developed to perform a given task. The single application can coexist on all of these three paradigms. For example, let us take the most commonly used social platform Facebook. The Facebook application on a Windows machine can be accessed using a web browser. In this context, you are running a web application version of Facebook. When you access Facebook using the application downloaded from Windows Store, you are running the desktop application version of Facebook. When you are accessing Facebook from your mobile, then you are running the mobile application version of Facebook.
Some of the most commonly used desktop applications are File explorer, Adobe PDF Reader, Adobe Photoshop, Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Microsoft Office Suite etc.
Desktop Application Software serves all domain to minimize complexity and maximize productivity. Business makes rich use of the desktop application for various tasks, such as Business Process Management, Enterprise Content Management, Human Resource Management, Consumer Relationship Management, Enterprise Resource Planning, Business Intelligence and so forth. Education uses application software dedicated to solving educational problems and needs, such as courseware, classroom aids, assignment software and so forth. Information Worker use application software for creating and managing information, time management, resource management, documentation management and so forth. And, the list goes on - Content Access Software, Product Engineering Software, Enterprise Software, Simulation Software, Entertainment Software and much more, as for every problem definition, we can have a custom desktop application software solution.
Desktop Application Software can be written using various of technologies (programming languages, framework and GUI toolkit) at our disposal, be it - C, C++, C#, Java, Python and others, depending on programmer's taste, application requirement, community support, and platform dependency. However, C#, C++ and Java are commonly used to write Windows Desktop Application, Swift, Objective-C, C++ and C are commonly used to write Mac OS Desktop Application, and C/C++, Java, Python and Shell are used commonly to write Linux Desktop Application. Also, the cross-platform desktop application can be written to run independently of operating systems using toolkit and libraries such as Electron, Node Webkit, 8th and so forth.
The language in which a desktop application is developed depends upon the support of that language in that particular platform. For example, an application developed in C language on a Linux machine cannot be run on a Windows machine. Here are the most frequently used desktop application development languages.
For Windows, native C Windows APIs is used for system level software development and for the middleware development - Windows, Qt, C#/VB .NET, Embarcadero Delphi & C++Builder, C++ MFC and Lazarus are used.
For Mac OS, native Objective-c Cocoa and Swift are used for system level software development. For middleware development in Mac OS, Embarcadero Delphi & C++Builder, Lazarus, C++ Qt, C#/VB .NET Mono are used.
For Linux distributions, the system level software is developed using C Gtk or C++. The middleware is developed in Python, Shell scripting, Lazarus, C#/VB .NET Mono, Gambas.
Before talking about the tools required for desktop application development, let us just understand the difference between platform-specific software and cross-platform development.
For example, I have an Intel processor, installed with Linux on it. I have started coding in C language; compiled the source code with GCC. Now, the code (Assembly code and the binary code) generated in this context cannot be run on other hardware - may be on an AMD processor. This is called platform-specific.
Suppose that I’ve compiled the same source code using target GCC cross-compiler (GCC supports cross-compilation), then the code can be ported on to the target machine successfully.
The difference between these two approaches is the compiler used for application development. Hence, a cross-compiler helps developing an application that runs irrespective of the underlying hardware.
Here are the most commonly used tools and frameworks available in the market for cross-platform desktop application development. Though this is not an exhaustive list, it touches the most commonly used and suitable tools for the desktop application development. Understand that each language used for desktop application development has its own libraries and frameworks. Some languages are better than the other for particular tasks. It all depends upon the objective of developing the application - choosing PyGame over PyQt for a desktop gaming application, choosing Tkinter over PyQt for developing a desktop business application and choosing PyQt over others for developing desktop UI.
Meteor is similar to Haxe but with the extra tools and frameworks that help in the development of desktop applications, web applications, and mobile applications too, written in Node.js. It uses MongoDB, in order to auto-propagate the changes without the developer interface. Meteor allows the developer to handle both the front and back ends of an application. Meteor is also an open source platform.
Haxe is a completely open source package that comes with the compiler, set of libraries, tools for cross-compilation and Haxe-based framework, that is extremely powerful to develop desktop applications. Haxe is a single code base that allows developers to develop desktop gaming applications also. The compiler packaged with Haxe is capable of producing source code in different languages for a wide range of platforms. However, as Haxe is one of the most advanced tools for desktop application development, the latest versions are not yet stable.
8th is the desktop application development platform that allows developers to develop applications for a wide variety of platforms, including the embedded operating systems - Windows, Linux, Mac OS, Raspberry Pi, and Android. This cross-platform toolkit helps the developers create applications for all these platforms from the same source code, maintaining the same UI across all of these platforms. Other major features of 8th are - support for encryption, database support, hardware access, REST (REpresentational State Transfer) access, REPL (Read-Eval-Print loop) and L10N (Network localization) support.
When a firm undertakes software development project, it has to follow a procedure in order to develop effective software and release it to the customer. Such a standard procedure in software development is called software development paradigm or software development model. There are several software development models, usually followed in the IT industry. Here is the list of software development models and a brief description of each.
It is a software development methodology which results in small incremental releases. Each of these releases is based on the functionality of the previous release. The Agile methodology is implemented when new features are being added a different instance of time during the project development. Hence, the final product is the result of the evolution of application development. It involves self-organizing and collaborative teams that result in continual improvement and early delivery of the product.
This methodology is the layman’s approach to software development. It involves five steps - Gathering requirements, Designing, Implementation, Verification, and Maintenance. There is no specific point in this approach to iterate a given step i.e. if gathering requirement step is said to be completed, then there is no going back to alter the requirement. Then comes designing. If designing is completed, it is not altered but the Implementation step is started and verified accordingly. As this methodology does not allow iteration of a step in the development, it has the last step called Maintenance, where all the alterations are usually performed. The major advantage of this approach is that it has the least number of iteration when compared to other paradigms.
The major aim of Cleanroom methodology is to develop a certifiable level of reliability in the final software. The context in which defect is to be prevented rather than removed is where the Cleanroom development methodology is used. It uses an iterative toward the end product, where the product is developed over iterations, which ultimately enhances the implemented functionality. At the very initial stage of the development, standards of the end product are set and at each iteration of development, quality is measured and compared against the standards. If the standards are met, the next iteration is initiated. Otherwise, the iteration is restarted.
As the name itself indicates, this software development approach adds “little more” at every point in the development and testing, until the completion of the product. In this approach, the complete set of requirements are in hand, before the development process is initiated. The development is declared finished when the current state of the development meets all the requirements posed initially. In this approach, the complete project is divided into components and the delivery to the customer is in the form of components, which enable the facility to partially use the product hence resulting in lesser development time.
The Prototyping methodology is implemented to validate the functionality of a product. The developer can get feedback from the users from the prototype and rectify/optimize/modify in order to achieve a fully functional prototype before it goes for production. There are four steps in this approach - Identifying basic requirements, Developing an initial prototype, Reviewing the initial prototype, and revising and enhancing the prototype. There are four types of prototyping software development - Throwaway or Close-ended prototyping, Evolutionary prototyping, Incremental prototyping, and Extreme prototyping.
Spiral methodology is a special approach to software development. Unlike other paradigms, this is a risk-driven methodology. Based on the pattern of the risks caused during development, the Spiral model manifests to adopt requisite elements from other methodologies like incremental development, waterfall development or evolutionary prototyping development. The prime implementation of this paradigm is when a project is facing repeated risks.
The V-model paradigm demonstrates the relationship between a given phase of development and the respective phase of testing. Verification and Validation are the two steps to be followed in the V-model methodology. The Verification step has the four phases Requirement analysis phase (User requirements are collected and analyzed) , System design phase (Feasibility of the user requirements is verified and the system architecture, modules, and interfaces are defined) , Architecture design phase (Selecting the architecture that meets all the requirements, usually called high-level design) and Module design phase (Original coding part starts here, after dividing the project into modules, usually called low-level design). The Validation step has the four phases Unit testing phase (Testing of every smallest entity that can exist independently, called Units), Integration testing phase (Testing the coexistence of different units), System testing phase (Functionality testing of the application) and User acceptance testing phase (Verifies if user requirements are met).
As the requirements keep vary from one kind of development process to the other, there are many other development paradigms like Crystal Methods software development, Extreme programming software development, Scrum software development etc. The objective of this article is to protect the prominent and most commonly used software development methodologies