Application Development Cycle

What Does Application Development Cycle Mean?

The application development cycle is a series of processes or steps that structure the development of an application in order to finish a project in the most efficient way. Development cycles vary depending on the type of organization and even its goals. As a result, each organization may have a unique development cycle.


The processes within the cycle not only focus on the actual coding of the application software, but also incorporate the logic and design processes upon which the coding is based. This is typically done at the beginning of the cycle when all requirements are being defined.

Techopedia Explains Application Development Cycle

The application development cycle is very similar to any other development cycle in terms of the principles and phases involved, although there may be differences depending on what is being developed. It includes the most basic processes, such as design, development and testing.

Sometimes the longest process is the design portion, in which different stakeholders – including the developers – have to analyze the requirements and specifications of both users and the technology to be used. Stakeholders must gather the necessary requirements, perform analysis and develop the design in various iterations, high-level and detailed, to satisfy both the user and the developer. Some design processes take years before a final design can be agreed upon, but usually this is because of budget concerns or because the technology that can fulfill some of the requirements has not yet been developed.

After the design comes the actual development phase, where programmers base their codes on the specified design and architecture of the system or application being developed. Some requirements can still change during the development phase, which may hamper work and throw things into disarray. This is called scope creep.

The testing phase comes right after the application has been coded. This process is very necessary as it will determine whether the application or system is fit for deployment. When everything has been tested and deemed acceptable, the application is ready for retail or handed to whoever commissioned it. The cycle ends there for some, but organizations that are customer-centric often extend the cycle to include a maintenance phase. This phase may extend indefinitely or until the application reaches its end-of-life and is retired and replaced with a new one.


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Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.