August 04, 2023 • 95 Views
One of the most popular and apparent modern trends in the field of software development - is process automation.
Clearly, integrating services, which proposes various problem-solving and task automation solutions is a great way to speed up the development time and spend resources in a more efficient manner.
Undeniably, each software development includes various routine coding practices like boilerplate code implementation, or simply rewriting some common lines of code with just a few changes or add-ons.
So, instead of delegating this routine to the developer, it is actually possible to develop some custom development tools, which will cover these aspects. As a result, it also brings numerous benefits for the app owner in a long-term perspective, like faster development and app publishing time, faster development lifecycle, saved costs, and other resources, etc. So, what is a development tool, and how to create a custom solution, which will meet your requirements?
Traditionally, development tools are specific software solutions, which are designed specifically to improve some working aspects within the development process.
Clearly, these are primarily created for the developers, not the regular users. Yet, sometimes, they are also available for the users. For instance, when it comes to making various components, directly linked to coding, like widgets or plugins.
Therefore, modern development tools have a larger targeted audience, and some may not even require previous coding experience. This type of development tool is known as no-code and low-code applications, where customers simply interact with user interfaces, while the program is adjusting the code with no human interaction during the process. Alternatively, there are source-code generation applications, which basically have a lot in common with the no-code and low-code apps as well.
Alternatively, there is a wide range of DevTools, which are more technical-specific. For example, most developers probably faced Microsoft VisualStudio, an integrated development environment, created as a supplement for developers during the software creation, where they can write, edit, or make cleaner code, perform debugging processes, build or deploy apps, etc.
In other words, Visual Studio is a complex software solution, which can significantly improve the software development process, providing software engineers with additional useful tools to better code. To add more, apart from basic options, Visual Studio Code can be upscaled with the use of various extensions. For instance, the combination of ESLint and Prettier can already be considered classic.
Yet, they highly depend on the internal project settings, so it is better to make sure they will be adjusted to the requirements if you want to use the full potential of such extensions.
Mainly, the most popular extensions are related to spell checking and correction, i.e. are capable to analyze code and find possible mistakes in used syntax, which can result in issues and errors in the whole app, and can easily occur due to the human factor. Alternatively, it is hard to imagine the development and testing of any API without using Postman, which proposes a vast toolset for API testing.
Summing up all the above, we can state, that DevTools are primarily used to simplify the development lifecycle and provide software engineers with various advanced features, which can partly automate some tasks(misspelling and syntax mistakes detection). Still, this is by far not the final list of possible solutions, which can be proposed by DevTools. It also includes testing tools, code editors, template engines, etc. Project management tools also belong to this list.
For a better illustration, let’s talk about custom DevTools.
Most abovementioned toolsets are distributed by third parties as SaaS, i.e. ready-to-use software. However, most such SaaS are covering general tasks, which are common for countless software projects and are too complex to develop from scratch. Alternatively, more specific tasks can be easily dealt with by developing less scalable and complex custom DevTools.
To make it simple, the key feature, performed by these toolsets is not some specific task, they can deal with, but the process automation itself. So, we can assume, that some software, which is capable of automating various operations, related to the development lifecycle, should also be considered as DevTools.
For example, if it supports source-code generation customization, or can make particular adjustments or code injections on demand.
So, what is so special about custom development tools in a few words? They are project-specific and are usually developed by software engineers for an exact task. It can be the automation of various steps during the API development, boilerplate code unit integration via a single command, editing code generation, according to preset values, etc. In other words, specific process automation. Let’s consider a few Incora case studies to clarify how it works.
For a better illustration, we chose two recent projects, Incora developers took part in. The rest of them you can observe in our case studies.
Sumatra is one of the recent DevTools projects, our developers participated in. To make it simple, Sumatra was designed for Data Teams, in order to simplify the process of creating real-time feature pipelines from event-based data. It also includes not only some technical aspects, related to the process of transferring the data status but also proposes a number of different management tools.
Among these management features, it is possible to name a materialization status page, where devs can manage and monitor the process of query execution and subquery generation and show all needed and optional information, like the number of timelines, event types, features, or even the person, who submitted it, and when materialization was submitted.
Additionally, a Scrowl editor displays all available brunches with modification history and gives the possibility to interact with these branches. Finally, the timelines panel provides users with all data and information, related to timelines, who and when interacted with them, number of ongoing events, etc.
Alternatively, one of the widgets, we developed, provides the website or app developers with easy identity verification.
One of the advantages of this widget is its cross-platform nature, which allows integration into almost any platform, including various platforms like WordPress, thanks to additional platform-oriented plugins.
It also supports multiple authentication methods like sending ID photos, connecting social media, etc.
As a result, this widget simplifies the life of app developers, by providing them with a ready-made solution for identity verification.
To put it in a nutshell, custom DevTools are helping your software development team to speed up the development pace and partly automate some repetitive processes or integrate a ready-made solution, and, as a result, save time and effort.
Frankly, the most important aspect is the process automation capabilities. So, when it comes to routine and repetitive tasks like CI/CD pipelines or data materialization, you can automate some tasks, or even the whole process at once with the use of a single software solution.
Alternatively, it also allows you to cover the lack of skills or knowledge, by simply integrating ready-made solutions, or hiring a dedicated team to develop a custom one. This is an especially crucial and powerful approach for those businesses, which are not specialized in IT, yet working with various software apps like eCommerce platforms.
To wrap up, developers will always use DevTools, due to the utilitarian and useful nature of such instruments. For instance, even libraries and frameworks for different programming languages are considered to be dev tools.
However, there are two totally different types of such toolsets: general and custom. While general tools are used for countless reasons and under common urges and conditions within different software products, custom DevTools are usually designed and embodied, according to specific requests of various clients. Like GameSDK, one of our recent projects, which was created specifically for the game dev industry to allow game developers to work with blockchain technologies, even if their expertise may be not enough by default due to the fact, that they are experts in a totally different field of innovative technologies.
Thus, the true power and benefits of having custom software Development Tools in terms of your project - is the ability to automate various processes, including code generation, code reuse, or similar tech-specific tasks.
Alternatively, some DevTools can be used not only by developers but by users as well. As a matter of fact, the main principles and overall logic of software engineering tools are similar to the ones, used in no-code or low-code applications, or other software solutions, aimed at regular users.
As an illustration, Klara is a widget constructor, which allows entrepreneurs and business owners to enable video advertising on various websites. To do so, all they need - is to interact with the app user interface elements, set the parameters for future ads, and perform some extra steps for successful ad integration within the website.
To highlight all the potential benefits of software development tools, we can make a brief list:
It looks like custom software engineering tools indeed propose a great variety of possible ways to upscale software products and integrate some new limited features like process automation. Yet, it also seems that custom software development tools are not an essential element, which must be a part of any software product. Instead, they should be considered optional yet useful components of software apps, which can show surprising results, yet only if the client made the calculations right.
In other words, before actually starting to develop such custom software engineering tools, you should understand why you need them. So, you should contact companies, which have some experience in this field in order to discuss the ideas and all the potential benefits and impacts on project efficiency from implementing them.
For instance, Incora has proven experience in developing different types of custom development tools, which can be examined in our case studies.
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