Computing: Software Development Units 3 and 4
Software Development focuses on the Problem Solving Methodology to study an information system. This methodology begins with the analysis of the system. We look at how a system works, who uses the system, how users interact with the system, how the system processes data and what is produced by the system.
When the analysis is complete the system design begins. This is a detailed process which encompasses creating mock-ups which show the features and functionality of the proposed software. It also includes creating pseudocode and algorithms for the initial design of the software. Evaluation criteria is created in the design phase so that the designers and client can ascertain that the software meets, or exceeds the expectations of the client after the software has been operating for a given period.
The development stage is where the coding begins. In this phase the code is written, validated and tested. Once the testing is completed, the documentation is written. The documentation is a web-based user documentation explaining all parts of the software. It is intended to assist users when they require help with the software.
The final stage is the evaluation stage, when data is gathered and compared to the evaluation criterion which was written in the design phase. Clear expectations of reliability, ease of use, accuracy, cost savings and time savings will be assessed against actual results and compiled into a report.
As you can see, the coding phase is just a small part of the entire study. Students are not expected to become expert programmers. This course is a study of the entire process of creating a new system for a client so we study all aspects of the process.
One programming language is supported by DECV staff for this course but students who have a sound knowledge of another programming language may elect to create their software module in that language provided that the language is capable of producing the results required by the assessment tasks and the language is approved by DECV IT teaching staff. When a different language to the language which is supported by DECV IT teaching staff has been chosen by a student, no programming support will be available for that language from DECV teachers.
Who is it for?
This subject is for students who have good IT skills and have an interest in coding. Many of the students undertaking this course already have fair to good programming skills. The course does teach basic programming for students who have never created any code, however, learning programming for the first time will be quite demanding so you will have to be highly motivated to work independently and you will need sound math and logic abilities.
What do you do?
You will create a Software Requirements Specification, which fully describes what the software will do and how it will be expected to perform.
You will use a variety of design tools to create the software specification such as Use Case Diagrams, Data Flow Diagrams, Context Diagrams etc.
You will complete a range of exercises to develop your coding skills before creating a module which accepts data, manipulates data, validates data, saves data, retrieves data, allows data to be edited and resaves data.
You will create testing and evaluation criteria and use this to see that your program performs as expected.
What skills do you need?
There are no criteria to enrol in this subject, however you should have good math skills, you should be good at logic and you must be self-motivated and resourceful.
The theory that we study in this subject will take a similar time to work through as Informatics and most other subjects. Learning the programming language is additional to the theory and will add approximately 50% to your study time in Unit 3 if you have no programming experience.
What skills do you develop?
This subject will develop your logic skills, it will enhance your math skills, it will give you a better understanding of a holistic approach to problem solving and it will help you to become an independent learner.
The following textbooks are required:
- Software Development: Core Techniques and Principles, third edition, Janson
- PHP for the Web: Visual QuickStart Guide, fourth edition, Ullman
Things to think about
This subject is not going to teach you to become an expert programmer. It will provide an insight into the business side of producing a software solution for client. Programming is just a small part of this subject. The end of year exam does not have a programming task and focuses on theory alone. Your programming ability will be assessed in Outcome 1 in Unit 3 and in the School-assessed Task in Unit 4. There are two additional assessments in Unit 3 and Unit 4 which do not involve programming.
The School Assessed Task (SAT) is a 15 week project which starts in the middle of Unit 3 and continues through to the middle of Unit 4. There are four assessments for the SAT in Unit 3 and another four assessments for the SAT in Unit 4. It is essential that you keep to the submission deadlines for each of the eight submissions over this project. VCAA has set assessment reporting dates for these tasks that are close to the student submission dates. Late submissions are assessed as S or N but no score is recorded. A non-scored task will affect your subject score so it is important that you adhere to the submission deadlines throughout both Units.
Things you can do now
If you want to get a head start, contact the DECV IT teaching staff and ask which programming language is being supported, buy the textbook and learn the basics of the language.
Learn to create a basic HTML web page (we use HTML web pages as the basic data input interface for the program you will be creating).
DECV IT teachers support PHP as the programming language for Software Development. You may use another programming language for this subject, but it must be capable of meeting the programming requirements as set out by VCAA and you must already be a competent programmer in that language. You will have to negotiate with your teacher if you want to use a language other than PHP. You will have to prove to your teacher that you have the skills to create a coded solution for the assessment tasks without programming support from your teacher.
It would be very advantageous if you start learning how to code using PHP.
W3schools.com is a great place to start to learn many program languages.
- about variables
- the basics of the programming language
- how to save data
- how to manipulate sets of data, multiply, divide etc
- how to retrieve data
- how to edit retrieved data and resave it.
- how to validate input data.
Go to the VCAA website for more information about this subject.