SOFTWARE APPLICATION CATEGORIES
Software may be applied in any situation for which a pre specified set of procedural steps has been defined. Information content and determinacy are important factors in determining the nature of a software application. Content refers to the meaning and form of incoming and outgoing information and Information determinacy refers to the predictability of the order and timing of information.
Software may be used for business application to run a device, for scientific use, real time application and to run a system. An engineering analysis program accepts data that a pre defined order, executes the program without interruption and produces resultant data in report format.
Following are the main application areas of software :
- System Software : System software is a collection of programs written to service other programs. Some system software (e.g. compilers, editors, and file management utilities) process complex information structures. Systems software area is characterized by heavy interaction with hardware and users. System software also performs various tasks e.g. concurrent operation, multiple external interfaces, process management etc.
- Business Software : Business information processing is the largest single software application area. Business application has a very broad area such as payroll, account receivable, account payable, inventory, purchase, marketing Applications in this area restructure existing data in a way that facilitates business operations. These applications are also used for management decision-making. Now days, business applications are playing very important role for providing the information.
- Embedded Software : Intelligent consumer products are becoming very popular in industrial market. Embedded software can perform very limited Embedded software resides in read only memory and is used for to control products for the consumer and industrial markets. Consumer products have embedded software are microwave oven, washing machine, digital functions in an automobile such as fuel control, dashboard displays etc.
- Personal Computer Software : Personal computer software may be said to be a small business application, which is used for single user or personal user. This type of application may have word processing, spread sheets, small database management, small business financial application etc.
- Scientific Software :•Applications range from astronomy to volcanology, from automotive stress analysis to space shuttle orbital dynamics and from molecular biology to automated manufacturing. There are number of software which are used only for scientific use. Computer aided design, computer aided manufacturing, and simulations are also used for engineering and scientific applications.
- Real-time Software : Software that monitor real world events as they occur are called real-time software. Elements of real-time software include a data gathering component that collects and formats information from an external environment, an analysis component that transforms information as required by the application. A real-time system must respond within strict time constraints. If the response time of a real time system exceeds, it can cause disastrous results but in an interactive system, the response time can normally be exceeded without disastrous results.
- Web-based Software : The web-pages retrieved by browser are software that incorporate executable instruction(e.g. CGI, HTML, Perl or java) and data(e.g. hypertext and variety of visual and audio formats). Web-based software can be used for E-Commerce and Internet banking. Marketing has become very easy with the use of web-based software.
Software Package Evaluation and Acquisition
Software packages are developed by the outside agencies as per requirement ad the express of the user organization, the proprietary rights in the package remains with original developer. This means that software packages developed by outside agencies can only be licensed for use. The mode of payment for the purpose can be possible in one of the following ways :
- Acquisition of the right to use a package by means of a monthly or periodical license fee.
- Off-the-shelf acquisition of programs in the floppy or in a plug-in ROM model.
- One-off payment for affixed period.
- Lump-sum payment in the beginning and periodical service charges later on.
Technical Aspect of Proprietary Software
While consideration of acquisition of a proprietary software package, following technical characteristics must be taken into account:
- Memory Size : Amount of memory required when resident in the CPU.
- Run time : Some programs may occupy lesser memory but much large run times.
- Adaptability Ability to mix into a multi-programming environment and to utilize the existing resources such as peripherals, operating systems, various utility programs etc.
- File Storage : File storage requirements and how efficiently it can store and retrieve data.
- Modularity : A package with a high degree of modularity has the capacity to operate on various machines with different configurations.
- Expandability : It emphasizes the sensitivity of a software package to handle an increased volume of transactions or to integrate with other programs.
- Reliability : Reliability related aspect include the extent to which a package can still be used when a particular module fails.
- Efficiency : This aspect encompasses capability of the package to perform under peak load condition. Efficiency of a package must depend on the language in which it is written and the operating system used.
- Ease of Implementation : Implementation of an application package refers to all the implementation associated activities and vendor support up to the point where the package satisfies user needs and the user can run it independently.
- Usability : It refers to the effort required to operate, prepare the input and interpret the output of a program.
- Vendor Support : This is critically important in such areas as documentation, software, maintenance and educating the user staff at different levels- technical, operational and managerial.
- Security : This refers to the in-built capability of the package to prevent unauthorized access to software and data to maintain proper integrity of the system.
Approaches to Software Evaluation
For software evaluation, following approaches have been considered :
- Bench marking : Benchmark is a sample program specially designed to evaluate the comparative performance of hardware or software.
- Experience of other users : vendors give a list of users who are satisfied with their work. But it is advisable to seek the opinion independently from the existing users whose configuration and operational environment is closely identical.
- Report of independent research organization : Now a days, many research organization undertake project of evaluating the proprietary software offered by various software agencies. They publish the report at regular interval. The prospective buyer of a software package can have faith in their evaluation.