What is TypeScript and how is it different from JavaScript?

TypeScript is an open-source programming language built on JavaScript, released by Microsoft in 2012. They initiated its development while working on Bing Maps and the Office programs, as they encountered difficulties with JavaScript and needed a tool that was more suitable for building applications of such scale.

TypeScript is a superset of JavaScript, meaning it can be executed wherever JavaScript runs. While any valid JavaScript code is also correct in TypeScript, TypeScript adds extra features vital for enterprise-level development and is better suited for object-oriented programming.

TypeScript’s features, such as interfaces, type annotations, and strong the type inference system are particularly beneficial for developing, structuring, and maintaining large-scale, complex software applications.

 

JavaScript vs. TypeScript

 

What’s new in TypeScript in 2023?

 

TypeScript 5.0

The goal of this update was to accelerate coding processes and simplify development. This was achieved by refining code and data structures, extending algorithms, and streamlining import-export operations.

The entire codebase underwent restructuring to enable the use of ECMAScript modules. The primary objective was to implement features aimed at reducing package size and enhancing overall performance. One of the key new features is Decorators, which allow for the customization of classes and class members in a reusable manner, simplifying debugging processes and enabling developers to write more concise code.

Furthermore, TypeScript 5.0 includes extended error detection and alert functions, which significantly reduce coding mistakes.

Package Size: TypeScript 4.9 vs 5.0

Package size difference between TS 4.9 and 5.0

 

TypeScript 5.1

By introducing easier implicit returns and allowing completely unrelated types for ‘get’ and ‘set’ accessor properties, the 5.1 update enables developers to work more efficiently and makes code refactoring processes easier.

Another optimization in TypeScript 5.1 involves avoiding type instantiation within object types that don’t contain references to outer type parameters. This reduces unnecessary computations and cuts down on type-checking time in the Material UI’s documentation directory by more than 50%.

 

TypeScript 5.2

The newest update from August includes further enhancements related to ECMAScript modules, such as explicit resource management and object member completions. Previously, TypeScript would provide unrelated completion results when a comma was missing, but from now on, these commas will be automatically filled in by TypeScript.

This update introduces three more important additions: the ability to copy array methods, support for using symbols as WeakMap and WeakSet keys, and clickable inlay hints that provide quick access to parameter definitions.

 

Example for TypeScript development – Caspar Cloud

Caspar Cloud is a case management system built for organisations that are looking after the elderly, sick or other people who cannot take care of themselves. Caspar has a series of highly complex backend functions, including data analysis, statistical reports and automatic server configuration. Since the application was created to be able to store and manage the data of thousands of patients, it was clear that Caspar had to be built creating TypeScript.Caspar Cloud

During the development process, TypeScript helped us detect many common errors during build time due to its embedded static analysis feature, making code refactoring much easier.

If you are looking to build a large-scale application similar to Caspar, or if you would simply like to get more information on TypeScript development, don’t hesitate to contact us through our consultation form or check out our case studies on our website.

 

Summary

Over the last decade, TypeScript has emerged as a compelling choice for enterprise-level application development, effectively complementing the JavaScript language. TypeScript has rapidly gained popularity in the web development community, with support from major libraries and frameworks like Angular and React. There’s also a growing ecosystem of TypeScript-specific packages and resources.

The new updates included speed and performance enhancements, improving code quality and improving readability, reducing development time and simplifying debugging processes. These updates underscore TypeScript’s unwavering dedication to enhancing developer productivity and elevating code quality.

RabIT Solutions

RabIT is an innovative software engineering company from Hungary. Our goal is to help startups and enterprises drive growth through technology innovation and make a real impact in their industries.

Code quality and transparency are our main priorities throughout each project.

SoftwareBY RabIT Solutions

Java

 

The forthcoming release of JDK 21 (Java Development Kit), scheduled for the 19th of September 2023, will bring a suite of 15 innovative features aiming to enhance the efficiency and productivity of Java developers. These upgrades strive to facilitate writing cleaner and less verbose code, thereby streamlining development processes and improving data security. In anticipation of this update, we asked our software engineers at RabIT which new features they are most looking forward to:

 

1. Structured Concurrency

Structured Concurrency has undergone prior testing in JDK 19 and 20, and it is set to be a preview feature in JDK 21 – Meaning you’ll need to turn it on explicitly before you can use it, and the feature might still be reworked before it’s finalized. The main goal of Structured Concurrency is to simplify concurrent programming by enabling the simultaneous handling of related tasks on separate threads and ensuring their proper synchronization.

Concurrent vs. parallel programming

 

By grouping the tasks together logically, this update enhances code stability and transparency, thereby reducing the potential risks of thread leaks and simplifying bug fixing significantly.

 

2. Virtual Threads

Virtual Threads are considered to be one of the most important innovations in the history of Java. In Java 21, if a virtual thread gets blocked or suspended, Java will execute another thread automatically. This new function will empower developers to seamlessly run millions of threads concurrently, without having to alter anything in the codebase itself.

Virtual threads will be a notable enhancement, bolstering processing capacity and speeding up development timelines, and completely revolutionizing concurrent programming.

 

3. Unnamed Variables, Patterns and Classes

Many times, developers have to define a variable, a pattern or a class that they will probably never need in the future again. In Java 21, it will be possible to replace or completely leave out these entities:

From now on, unneeded variables and patterns can be conveniently denoted using an underscore (_), and with the inclusion of Unnamed Classes and Instance Main Methods – two of the most expected preview features – many Java code segments will be shorter and simpler to write, minimizing “boilerplate” code. This latest upgrade enables developers a streamlined approach to optimize code efficiency and maintain a more concise programming structure.

Let’s look at the example of the famous “Hello World” program:

 

Hello World!“Hello World” before Unnamed Classes

 

Hello World!“Hello World” after Unnamed Classes

 

Conclusion

Some of the notable mentions not enumerated here include scoped values, which replace thread-local variables, offering more flexibility and ensuring safer data sharing. Furthermore, the introduction of the KEM API facilitates improved security practices and extends encryption possibilities, among many other useful new features that could be explored further.

Java 21 has the potential to become one of the most significant advancements in the history of the programming language. Anticipated benefits include enhanced security for Java applications and a much more streamlined development process, sparking great interest among our Java developers, who can’t wait for the update to arrive and start working with increased efficiency.

RabIT Solutions

RabIT is an innovative software engineering company from Hungary. Our goal is to help startups and enterprises drive growth through technology innovation and make a real impact in their industries.

Code quality and transparency are our main priorities throughout each project.

SoftwareBY RabIT Solutions

While Swift Evolution is currently working on several significant changes to the Swift programming language, Swift 5.8 is primarily a release focused on refining and improving existing functionality. This release includes several exciting upgrades with an emphasis on improving and cleaning up features that are already widely used.

 

iOS Swift

 

Ability to Lift All Limitations on Variables in Result Builders

The latest update to result builders in Swift has eased some of the limitations imposed on variables, enabling developers to write code that was previously considered invalid by the compiler.

In addition, this modification grants users the ability to employ local computed properties and property wrappers within result builders. However, it’s worth noting that their usefulness in this context may be limited.

 

New Function: Back Deployment

Swift 5.8 introduces a new attribute called “@backDeployed,” which enables developers to use new APIs on older framework versions. This is accomplished by embedding the function’s code into the app’s binary and performing a runtime check. If the user’s operating system is recent enough, the system’s version of the function will be utilized. Otherwise, the function’s copy from the app’s binary will be used.

The @backDeployed attribute can only be used with functions, methods, subscripts, and computed properties. As a result, it may be effective for minor API modifications, such as the fontDesign() modifier introduced in iOS 16.1. However, it is not suitable for changes that involve the use of new types, such as the scrollBounceBehavior() modifier, which relies on a new ScrollBounceBehavior structure.

 

Swift Code

 

Implicit Self for Weak Self Captures, After Self is Unwrapped

In previous versions of Swift, developers have had to include the “self” keyword when referencing properties or methods within closures that capture self. This is because the closure holds a strong reference to the object, which can lead to retain cycles and memory leaks.

However, the latest update to Swift (Swift 5.8) takes us closer to removing the need for “self” in closures. In particular, it introduces a new feature that allows for implicit self in cases where a weak self capture has been unwrapped. This means that developers can now access properties and methods of the enclosing instance within a closure without explicitly referencing “self,” as long as the capture is declared as “weak” and unwrapped before use.

This is a major improvement for Swift developers, as it simplifies the syntax and makes code easier to read and write. Additionally, it helps to prevent common memory management issues that can arise when working with closures that capture self.

 

Concise Magic File Names

The latest Swift 5.8 update modifies the #file magic identifier to follow the format Module/Filename, such as MyApp/ContentView.swift. 

Previously, the #file identifier contained the complete path to the Swift file, such as /Users/twostraws/Desktop/WhatsNewInSwift/WhatsNewInSwift/ContentView.swift, which was overly verbose and made the code harder to read.

The Swift evolution proposal for these changes states that the update will improve the binary size and execution performance, leading to further enhancements in Swift 6. 

 

iOS Swift 5.8

 

Open Existential Arguments to Optional Parameters

Swift 5.8 expands upon a feature introduced in Swift 5.7, which allows developers to call generic functions using a protocol. This update addresses a small but frustrating inconsistency in the previous version of Swift: while Swift 5.7 permitted calling generic functions with protocols, it did not allow this behavior with optionals.

The new update in Swift 5.8 addresses this inconsistency by extending the protocol-based approach to optional types. This will allow developers to use protocols to call generic functions that accept optional types, making the language more consistent and user-friendly.

This update is exciting for developers because optionals are a fundamental concept in Swift, allowing developers to handle situations where a value may be missing. By extending the protocol-based approach to optionals, Swift developers can now use the same generic functions with optional types as they do with non-optional types, reducing the need for workarounds or additional code.

 

New Support for Collection Downcasts in Cast Patterns

The latest update in Swift addresses a small but potentially frustrating inconsistency that could occur when downcasting collections. Specifically, in certain circumstances, Swift would not allow developers to downcast a collection, such as casting an array of objects belonging to ClassA to an array of objects belonging to a different class that inherits from ClassA.

This update in Swift resolves this inconsistency and makes it possible for developers to perform downcasting on collections in all scenarios. This means that developers can now more easily work with collections of objects that belong to a specific class or its subclasses, improving the flexibility and functionality of their code.

 

A New Era of Swift

Swift 5.8 introduces a range of updates and improvements that build on previous releases and enhance the language’s functionality and flexibility. From improving result builders to addressing inconsistencies in downcasting collections, these updates are designed to make the development process smoother and more intuitive. 

With these updates, Swift continues to demonstrate its commitment to innovation and user-centered design, providing developers with the tools they need to create powerful, efficient, and user-friendly applications.

RabIT Solutions

RabIT is an innovative software engineering company from Hungary. Our goal is to help startups and enterprises drive growth through technology innovation and make a real impact in their industries.

Code quality and transparency are our main priorities throughout each project.

SoftwareBY RabIT Solutions

Spring Boot 3.0 has brought numerous exciting features and updates to the market. Late last year, Spring Boot 3.0 became the first major upgrade in over 4.5 years. With more than 74% of Java developers using Spring Boot, the upgrade is having impactful changes across the industry. 

 

What is Spring Boot?

Spring Boot is an open-source extension of the Spring Framework that hosts third-party libraries that help developers jump-start applications for production. It allows developers to focus on the application’s business logic rather than configuration, making the tool an industry favorite. 

The tool was created by Pivotal Software and has been upgraded approximately every four years. The first version, Spring Boot 1.0, was released in 2014, Spring Boot 2.0 in 2018, and now Spring Boot 3.0 in November 2022. 

 

Spring Boot

 

What’s New With Spring Boot 3.0

Spring Boot 3.0’s launch came with an abundance of new, innovative features. Below are some of the most significant changes happening on the network:

 

1. Java 17 Baseline with Java 19 Support

With the latest upgrade, Java 17 is now the baseline needed to use Spring Boot 3.0. The newest version will not work with JDK 8 or 11, so developers will need to update to JDK version 17 or newer. Fortunately, Spring Boot 3.0 is also tested with JDK 19, allowing developers to use the most advanced Java JDK software. 

2. Jakarta EE 9

One of the most important upgrades is the change from Java EE to Jakarta EE9. Because the package namespace changed from javax.* to Jakarta.*, users will need to adjust all imports in their code whenever using classes from Java EE directly. 

Users should also understand that when using external libraries that depend on Java/Jakarta EE, changing the namespace will be crucial for avoiding coding errors. 

3. Log4j2 Enhancements

Another exciting feature for developers is the introduction of new Log4j2 extensions, including the following features. 

Profile-specific Configuration

The <SpringProfile> tag lets developers create custom configurations based on active Spring profiles. 

Environment Properties Lookup

With Spring Boot 3.0, developers can look up properties from Spring Environment with their Log4j2 configurations. 

Log4j2 System Properties

Log4j2 can support numerous System Properties that developers can use to configure various items. 

4. Observability with Micrometer and Micrometer Tracing

Spring Boot 3.0 has introduced Spring Observability, built upon Micrometer and Micrometer tracing. Now, developers can record various application metrics and provide tracing support to tools such as OpenZipkin and OpenTelemetry. 

5. GraalVM Native Image Functionality

Native Image support was one of the most anticipated changes with the upgrade. With Spring Boot 3.0, developers can convert applications directly into GraalVM native image. Native image enables fast application start times, resulting in sizeable memory consumption improvements. 

 

Spring Boot

 

Upgrading to Spring 3.0

Spring Boot 3.0 is an exciting upgrade that will unboundedly improve development times and enhance application abilities across the board. While the above list highlights the upgrades of the tool, users can get the full release notes on Spring’s website. 

Remember, before upgrading to Spring Boot 3.0, it’s recommended to switch over to at least Java 17 and upgrade Spring in increments rather than skipping install versions. 

RabIT Solutions

RabIT is an innovative software engineering company from Hungary. Our goal is to help startups and enterprises drive growth through technology innovation and make a real impact in their industries.

Code quality and transparency are our main priorities throughout each project.

SoftwareBY RabIT Solutions

Today, companies of all shapes and sizes are starting to use digital technology to bypass the limitations of the physical world. The power of digitization of business processes can be recognized as a catalyst not just for driving enterprise scale and efficiency, but for helping to deliver focused innovation with much greater precision and speed.

New advances in this field also allow them to release their products to the market faster, to reach the right customers, while offering a near perfect user experience.

We’ve already gone into the details about reasons your company might benefit from the digitization of business processes in an earlier article. Just to list a few, you might need to digitize in order to:

  • answer disruption in your industry,
  • improve everyday efficiency,
  • improve customer/user experience,
  • utilize new channels to their full potential,
  • extend services to mobile users,
  • shorten your supply chain,
  • utilize emerging new technologies, etc.

In this article we are focusing more on the ways you can validate your approach to the digitization of business processes or test specific concepts both internally and externally.

 

Ways to Validate the Digitization of Business Processes

1. See how other industry players did it

It is possible that your idea is not unique at all. Through a simple online search, you can discover products that might have germinated from a similar idea-seed. It is better to think of a new idea if your concept does not offer something extra special or improves the way of doing things.

 

2. Present the concept to employees early

If you are planning to introduce a new digital tool into your current workflow, it is highly beneficial – if not essential – to hear the perspective of the employees who will actually use it to carry out their day to day work tasks. This can be done in a similar way as user acceptance testing with a customer-facing MVP.

It is also recommended to simply present the concept of the new solution before starting any development in order to include the users’ ideas into the software requirements and design. This may save you a substantial amount of money spent on fixing/rewriting counter-intuitive or inefficient software features.

 

digitization of business processes

 

3. Hypothesis Testing

You can assess the viability of a new digital solution via hypothesis testing methodology, without developing a product prototype. You can use either a Wizard of Oz MVP or a Concierge MVP to validate your business idea.

Concierge MVP: You provide the value proposition manually to a small group of test users, without involving any technology. You perform the service following the same steps as the final product.

Wizard of Oz MVP: In this method, you make the test users believe that the new digital solution is already able to complete a certain task. They see the working front of your product (this is often solved by using clickable design wireframes), while there is no actual code running in the background yet.

 

4. Single-Feature MVP

Single-feature minimal viable product (MVP) enables you to test one core aspect of your digital solution. You give your end-users this one-core-feature product to use, to get early feedback. It is one of the easiest methods by which you can validate or invalidate the digitization of business processes, and you can do so on a shoestring budget.

Now that you have a basic idea about how to validate a concept, you can get creative and start presenting to your employees to find out first hand if your idea really has merit or not.

 

Summary

Digitization of business processes offers some important new changes and opportunities for modern enterprises, big and small alike. Leadership should be encouraged to always question the traditional way of doing business, and periodically rethink the entire company in order to succeed in this rapidly changing environment.

Other than opportunities, the digital revolution will definitely bring many new challenges as well. This is why it is more important than ever for you to follow latest trends and developments not only for your company, but for your entire value chain.

RabIT Solutions

RabIT is an innovative software engineering company from Hungary. Our goal is to help startups and enterprises drive growth through technology innovation and make a real impact in their industries.

Code quality and transparency are our main priorities throughout each project.

SoftwareBY RabIT Solutions

Java has held a special place in the hearts of many developers since its release more than two decades ago, including our own. Since it is such a mature, widely-used technology, there are also plenty of great automated Java code review tools to choose from today.

According to last year’s Stack Overflow Developer Survey, it is still among the 5 most popular programming languages.

 

java code review tools - java popularity

Source: Stack Overflow

 

Also, according to the TIOBE index, Java is still the number one programming language today, just barely surpassing C. The index is calculated using the number of skilled engineers world-wide, courses and third party vendors, as well as queries in popular search engines such as Google, Bing, Yahoo!, Wikipedia, Amazon, YouTube and Baidu.

 

Briefly about code review & analysis:

Code reviews are processes where software developers and testers check if an already written source code complies with coding conventions and standards.

Apart from manual code reviews, static and dynamic code analysis can also be conducted with the help of automated tools.

Static code analysis tools examine the source code without executing it. Dynamic analysis is conducted while the code, or a part/unit of it (for example unit or integration testing) is being run.

 

Why are code reviews important?

Poor source code quality causes plenty of headaches, overworked days and sleepless nights for developers and product owners alike. Planning and conducting code reviews is often ignored by management, usually leading to long-lasting negative effects on development efficiency and even the whole business.

To briefly summarize, if the quality of the source code is left to deteriorate:

  • adding new features becomes increasingly difficult, while potentially breaking existing ones in the process
  • bug fixes take up more of the team’s time, missing deadlines and prolonging crucial updates
  • onboarding new developers requires more time if the code base is hard to read and understand
  • poor source code quality can also negatively impact users’ perception of the product, and the whole organization
  • future development estimations also become less accurate if it’s impossible to predict how long it takes to add new features without breaking existing ones.

For anyone who is interested in reading more about the effects of low-quality code, we’ve dedicated a whole article to this topic not long ago.

 

 

What is the basis of our recommendations?

Java has been our go-to technology for many custom software development projects over the last decade. It is, in fact, our most frequently-used programming language to date.

We’ve encountered many Java-based software projects throughout our work that were struggling to move forward because the source code had gotten so unstable that it was difficult, or straight-up impossible to develop further.

We were only able to stabilize these software products and continue feature development after running a whole assortment of tests and completing a ton of code refactoring work. The following recommendations are based on the experience gained throughout these projects.

 

 

We recommend using these Java code review tools:

 

Checkstyle is a static code analysis tool used in software development for checking if Java source code complies with coding rules. It basically automates the lengthy process of checking code and helps Java developers enforce coding standards.

It can find anything from class or method design problems to code layout and formatting issues. You can find the complete list of checks here.

Checkstyle has a large number of plug-ins as well that let teams integrate continuous code checks into their projects.

 

PMD or Programming Mistake Detector is an open source static source code analyzer that reports on issues found within application code.

The tool is used to detect common mistakes made in the code by using the standard rules or defining custom rule sets. Using PMD, teams can detect common flaws around naming conventions, unused variables and parameters, empty catch blocks, unnecessary object creation, etc.

PMD has plugins for JDeveloper, Eclipse, jEdit, JBuilder, Maven, Ant, Gradle, Jenkins, SonarQube and many other tools and IDEs.

PMD also contains CPD (or the Copy/Paste Detector), which is used to detect duplicate code in. We find this to be a very useful add-on, as duplicate code can be quite hard to find, especially in a large project.

Eliminating duplicated blocks of code is important for a number of reasons, like removing unnecessary grunt work during refactoring. It puts a lot of pressure on the developer to remember where they are located and edit them when making significant changes on the code base.

Also, if they are working in a team, developers otherwise have no way of knowing where other team members inserted duplicate code segments. This can make future development and maintenance tasks much more complicated.

Apart from Java, it can also be used for C, C++, PHP, Python, JavaScript as well as other programming languages.

 

JetBrain Space Java code review tool

JetBrains Space is a new unified platform that offers a complete toolchain for the software development pipeline, as well as tools for team collaboration at companies of any size.

It removes the silos that are often inherent to organizations, helps individuals and teams be more productive, and makes software development and collaboration more enjoyable.

Apart from offering most features as other java code review tools, developers can also host Git repositories, review code, automate CI/CD, store and publish packages, develop remotely with cloud dev environments, manage issues and documents, and communicate in chats – all in one place.

Space is available on the web and as a mobile app for iOS and Android.

 

 

 

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SonarQube is an open-source code quality inspection platform. It is used to perform automatic reviews with static analysis of code to detect bugs, coding errors, and security vulnerabilities.

The platform offers reports on duplicate code blocks, coding standards, unit tests, code coverage, code complexity, comments, bugs, etc.

It is a popular choice for analyzing Java code, especially for teams using Maven and Gradle, but others can also use it by manually providing bytecode to the analysis.

SonarQube currently supports a total of 27 programming languages including Java, C#, PHP, JavaScript, TypeScript, C/C++, Ruby, Kotlin, Go and Python for example.

 

JArchitect is a static analysis tool specifically meant for Java code. It supports a large number of code metrics like number of parameters, variables and lines of code, cyclomatic complexity, afferent and efferent coupling and so forth.

JArchitect also allows teams to expose architectural flaws, visualize and manage dependencies using directed graphs and a dependency matrix. This is only a few of the many useful features the platform can provide.

 

JUnit is a unit testing framework for the Java programming language. For reference, unit testing is a method for evaluating the performance of individual units, components or modules of the source code.

The framework allows teams to write and run unit tests for Java 8 and above. Its latest version, JUnit 5 is composed of several different modules:

  • The JUnit Platform – responsible for launching testing frameworks on the JVM.
  • JUnit Jupiter – a module that includes new programming and extension models for writing tests.
  • JUnit Vintage – which supports running JUnit 3 and JUnit 4 tests on the platform.

JUnit is the most popular unit testing framework for Java development projects, and is often listed among the most commonly included external libraries in general.

 

JaCoCo is an open-source toolkit for Java, used for measuring and reporting code coverage.

The term ‘code coverage’ is used in software development to define how much of a program’s source code is covered by a testing plan.

We are including this as sort of an honorable mention, as some other tools, IDEs and platforms already include JaCoCo as a plug-in. A few examples of these are:

  • SonarQube
  • Eclipse
  • Jenkins
  • Netbeans
  • IntelliJ
  • Gradle
  • Visual Studio

 

 

Summary

 

Of course, these recommendations are purely based on our own experience and preferences.

Which Java code review tools you’ll choose for your own development projects should be based on a fair amount of testing and their compatibility with your technology stack of choice.

If at any point you find yourself in need of another set of eyes during code reviews, don’t hesitate to reach out to us with your questions.

Thanks for reading our article!

 

java code review cta

RabIT Solutions

RabIT is an innovative software engineering company from Hungary. Our goal is to help startups and enterprises drive growth through technology innovation and make a real impact in their industries.

Code quality and transparency are our main priorities throughout each project.

Startup & MVPBY RabIT Solutions

Introduction

Many of us dream about becoming self-made successes, entrepreneurs to finally free ourselves from our 9-5 jobs and turn our dreams into a reality. Today, the internet is littered with success stories about people who have already made it big and became millionaires, hundred millionaires, billionaires even.

The path to achieving breakout success sounds simple when you hear the story of someone who already has it all figured out. However, finding the right way is much harder if you are starting from scratch. A startling amount of entrepreneurs never achieve their ultimate goals. According to statistics, only 30% of small businesses make it past their 10th anniversary.

To improve the odds of success, more and more entrepreneurial journeys start out with a simple Minimum Viable Product (MVP).

 

What Is a Minimum Viable Product?

The term was introduced as one of the core principles of the lean startup methodology.

An MVP is the initial version of your product that only has the core features that are essential to solving an existing problem for your prospective customers. Your minimum viable product helps you gather important feedback and estimate market interest from the earliest stages of your business. More complex features are only added in later iterations, based on the received user feedback and the development of market demand.

A minimum viable product can be a simple web or mobile application, website or a single landing page.

what is minimum viable product development

Illustration of minimum viable product development

 

MVP Benefits

A minimum viable product enables you to:

  • test a product hypothesis with minimal resources
  • accelerate learning in your organization
  • reduce necessary development hours
  • reach your actual market as soon as possible
  • decrease the risks of investment
  • establish your brand to users quickly

 

Researching and Verifying the MVP Idea

Verifying the business idea itself is a crucial step that absolutely must come before you rush into any kind of development project. You can significantly decrease the risk of investment by double checking if there is enough interest on the market for your solution.

Not even a company like Google could get away with selling a product that had no clear product-market fit (ehm… Google Glass).

Your new product or service has to offer a much needed solution for a need (or problem) that is being underserved by competitors or not served at all by anyone. You also have to make sure that the problem is pressing enough to justify the price of your solution in the eyes of potential customers.

 

Minimum viable product market fit

Source:   leanstartup.co

A good cautionary tale here could be Juicero, Silicon Valley’s smart juicer that squeezes disposable packets of liquified fruits, vegetables, and other ingredients into cups. Even with 4 funding rounds and close to $120 million of total funding, they couldn’t justify the $400 price tag for a web-connected device the basically empties a drink from a bag. The company went bottoms up less than 4 years after its founding.

Know what it costs to deliver your product (materials, rent, salaries, etc.) and to acquire customers who will pay to use that product (CAC – customer acquisition cost). All these costs have to be included in your pricing as well. While breaking even helps you consistently pay the bills, it won’t be enough to become a top player in your industry. Be sure that your costs are still reasonable to customers even after adding your profit margin.

According to smallbiztrends.com, only 40% of small businesses are profitable, 30% break even and 30% are continually losing money.

 

startup profitability - minimum viable product guide

 

The initial verification usually isn’t enough to prove that your business will be sustainable on the long run. That part will be up to your actual MVP.

You can get really creative with your idea verification methods. Use every tool at your disposal to measure the buzz around your idea. These examples are accessible to everyone for little or no expense:

  • Google search
  • Google Trends
  • Landing pages
  • Explainer videos
  • User testing

Start by identifying your key customer profile and creating buyer personas. This should help you visualize your ideal client base and customize your marketing messaging to better fit their specific needs. Do your best to reach out to as many people who fit this profile as you can.

What does the minimum viable product development process look like?

Minimum viable product development has to result in a product that delivers real value to its users is a complex process that may vary depending on your industry, product type, user base and so on. For the sake of clarity, we will break the MVP development process down to the following steps:

I. Setting a hypothesis

Hypothesis-based decision making helps you avoid basing your product idea on false assumptions and prejudices.

While it might seem like a billion-dollar idea to produce a smart salt shaker with Bluetooth technology, it can’t hurt to double check first. Just to be sure.

Using this method to come up with a business idea should guarantee that it will be based on real-life demand. A good hypothesis must be:
– easily testable,
– clear and measurable,
– either clearly true or false.

The most simplified template for such a hypothesis would look something like this:

 

If [cause], then [effect], because [reason].

 

Example: If we develop an app for broadcasting nostalgic content for people born before 1970, then we can get 50,000 people to sign up for a free trial by the end of 2020, because research data shows us that 80s and 90s nostalgia is very captivating to our target audience.

Once you have gathered sufficient evidence proving that your hypothesis is true, you can start planning product development with much greater certainty.

 

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II. Selecting technologies

Minimum viable product development can be done with any modern-day programming language. However, it is crucial that you decide from the start whether or not you are planning to develop an MVP, or a full-fledged software product. If you choose the MVP route, you should go with technologies that are highly flexible and scalable.

Due to the evolving nature of an early MVP, developers need to be able to easily make changes to the source code at all times. By choosing modern and frequently updated tech in the planning stage, you can make your team’s life much easier when it comes to implementing these changes.

You should always choose the technology your team is most comfortable with. If you are open for suggestions though, here are a few pointers:

Micro-service architectures carry great benefits for MVP development. These micro-services are comprised of small modules that communicate with each other, and sometimes with the user as well. By using modular builds we are able to decompose an application into different smaller services. This makes the application easier to understand, develop, test and become more resilient to changes in the architecture itself.

Thanks to the independently functioning modules, multiple autonomous teams can work on development at the same time. This alone can help speed up the project significantly.

 

monolithic vs microservice minimum viable product

Source:    bmc.com

 

However, if you are developing a really minimalistic MVP with a small team, and scalability is not a top priority yet, we would rather recommend using monolithic architecture. Its main benefits are faster development and lower hardware requirements.

Also, the developed application will be self-contained and independent from other computing applications. Later on, if scalability becomes important and more developers join the team, it should be separated into micro-services though.

A lot of developers would disagree with using monolithic architecture for MVP development today. It may be falling out of popularity, but we believe there are still cases where it’s the right call. Instead of selecting the most popular option, this decision should be made according to product strategy and technical requirements.

Language-wise we ourselves prefer to use Java, since that is what our team has the most experience with. We have also started using Go (or Golang) recently, thanks to its speed and ability to produce small, static binaries. These really come in handy if you are working with micro-services.

Regardless of the selected technologies, you can build a top-quality MVP if you invest the time and energy into planning your project properly. You can only make your development team’s life easier if you choose a modern and frequently updated language.

One of the most common pitfalls of this process is not having a clear vision of a specific end goal and focus on the most critical features.

 

 

III. Product feature development

Choosing these key features may sound easy enough, but is not always so straightforward. This is why you needed to do all that research first, and verify your concept before moving on to product development.

If you already have a good understanding about your market, the development process itself should look something like this:

  1. Define product requirements
  2. Plan and assign development tasks
  3. Feature development and testing
  4. Live release
  5. Product evolution (repeat 1-4)

 

Try to look at product development as a cycle instead of a linear process. In this example, the live release doesn’t happen when development is finished, it happens when the MVP functions on a satisfactory level. Your product still needs to evolve through future iterations. Current features will have to be tweaked or scrapped if necessary, new features might have to be added, etc. In some cases, development may continue throughout the entire product life cycle.

Have you heard about the location-based iPhone app called Burbn? It allowed its users to check in at particular locations, plan future check-ins, earn points for hanging out with friends, and post pictures of these meet-ups.

 

burbn minimum viable product

 

The app wasn’t doing too well after its initial release. After analyzing their users’ activity more closely, the creators found out that people were mostly using Burbn to share photos. They weren’t using the check-in features at all. The app was just too complicated, and came with a lot of features that users found unnecessary.

The team finally decided to act on their data, focus on the photo-sharing feature and throw out everything else. This app is called Instagram today.

This is a good example for why it is essential to involve real users in the development process from the early stages.

Our team places a great emphasis on product evolution as well. Here is what the development cycle usually looks like for us:

minimum viable product development cycle

 

IV. Testing

Continuous testing is one of the key principles of validated learning, which is used to mitigate the considerable risk of launching a new product. There are over 30,000 new consumer products released each year, and 95% fail, according to Harvard Business School professor Clayton Christensen.

We recommend that, apart from testing software functionality, you should also start usability testing as early as possible. This is important because even a perfectly functioning product can be misinterpreted by users due to confusing layouts, unclear documentation or faulty user interface design.

 

user vs usability testing

Source: medium.theuxblog.com

 

Normally, software doesn’t get released until it is complete and working just as intended. Although a minimum viable product is intentionally released in an incomplete state, it is still expected to work flawlessly in the hands of users. It basically has to be much lighter than a complete software, but still has to seem just as stable. This requires continuous feature testing in every development phase.

The development team must include testing during and between sprints (iteration periods in continuous Agile software development cycles). Sprint length and frequency usually varies depending on client needs. For some clients we test each development task individually, others only require testing at the end of a sprint. We always use the same platform for this purpose that we use for development as well.

Minimum viable products are beneficial long-term, in part because the high user expectations result in a high-quality product that is thoroughly tested down to the smallest detail.

 

V. Collecting data and analyzing a hypothesis

The point of minimum viable product development is to collect user feedback, analyze this data and finally act on it through future product iterations. As your prototype becomes stable enough to be put into the hands of real users, you must also have the necessary data collection channels and tools in place.

To identify your key audience and focus on their needs as accurately as possible, you will need to measure their demographic (age, gender, location, etc.) and behavioral data (device usage, interests, preferences and such).

Remember that all data collection practices on your website and applications must be done with consent from the user.

The most widely-used data collection methods are:

1. Third party data collection services already available on the market

There are a number of ready-to-use tools out there such as Google Analytics, Crazy Egg, Hotjar, Optimizely and others, which can help you collect useful behavioral data about your website and apps.

Unfortunately, these tools may have some drawbacks for clients in EU countries. GDPR regulation now limits what types of data can be collected and under what circumstances. This means that you probably won’t be able to use them to their full potential.

You can also gather useful data from the App Store or Play Store if you are planning to release a mobile app.

2. Built-in custom data collection features

With integrated monitoring features you can measure and analyze almost any element of your product at this stage. You can keep track of which software features people are using, where and when they are using them.

We usually recommend to our clients to build a reporting page where they can organize all relevant data and visualize it so it can be presented to the whole team.

Again, it is crucial to remember to disclose all information about your data collection and management practices in your privacy policy.

Also make sure that your methodologies are in line with GDPR regulation for EU countries.

3. Surveys that ask users for in-depth feedback directly

E-mail and pop-up surveys are still one of the most useful ways to collect information about user satisfaction and recommendations. You can use them to get answers you can’t find by just monitoring behavior.

Be careful not to annoy your users with too many such requests and ruin their user experience though.

 

VI. Launch

Your minimum viable product is ready for launch when all the minimum requirements are fully developed. The product must be of satisfactory quality and without any critical usability errors by this point. You should know whether or not this is true from the results of previous testing.

Product testing and evolution doesn’t stop after the minimum viable product phase either. It is up to your product team now to listen to your customers, find ways to deliver even more value to them and integrate the necessary changes through future development iterations.

 

build measure learn cycle mvp

 

Remember, if you get your finger off the pulse of the market, you can quickly lose touch with your customers’ needs and allow competitors to swoop in.

Keep in mind, that developing a flawlessly working app with beautiful design does not automatically make it successful. You also need a strategy to acquire and continuously grow your initial user base. This topic deserves a whole article of its own.

Be sure to remember that a half-completed app with a steadily growing user base is always more valuable than a 100% finished application that nobody uses.

 

Summary

Successful minimum viable product development requires careful planning from the early stages, and close monitoring throughout the development process.

While there can be a lot of money involved later on, getting rich fast must not be the only motivation for minimum viable product development. If your new product truly helps people improve their lives, or the way they work, your chances at success are already much higher.

Be careful not to rush into development with only an idea. Do your best to back it up first through market research and concept testing.

Once you’ve decided that you want to develop an MVP version, stick to this decision throughout the development phases. Pay close attention to how your customers use the product or service, and plan each following evolution stage accordingly.

RabIT Solutions

RabIT is an innovative software engineering company from Hungary. Our goal is to help startups and enterprises drive growth through technology innovation and make a real impact in their industries.

Code quality and transparency are our main priorities throughout each project.

SoftwareBY RabIT Solutions

The developer community has a diverse ecosystem of static PHP code analysis tools that differ in a few aspects but ultimately serve the same purpose. Nevertheless, this can make it somewhat difficult to decide which ones to use during a software development project.

We hope that this article helps you decide which of these tools you’ll use.

This article won’t separats the mentioned PHP code analysis tools into based on their purpose. The list contains tools that are used for the purpose of identifying bugs and for maintenance of code style as well.

 

Briefly about code review & analysis:

Code reviews are processes where software developers and testers check if an already written source code complies with coding conventions and standards.

Apart from manual code reviews, static and dynamic code analysis can also be conducted with the help of automated tools.

Static code analysis tools examine the source code without executing it. Dynamic analysis is conducted while the code, or a part/unit of it (for example unit or integration testing) is being run.

 

Why is code analysis important?

Poor source code quality causes plenty of headaches, overworked days and sleepless nights for developers and product owners alike. Planning and conducting code analysis is often ignored by management, usually leading to long-lasting negative effects on development efficiency and even the whole business.

 

To briefly summarize, if the quality of the source code is left to deteriorate:

  • adding new features becomes increasingly difficult, while potentially breaking existing ones in the process
  • bug fixes take up more of the team’s time, missing deadlines and prolonging crucial updates
  • onboarding new developers requires more time if the code base is hard to read and understand
    poor source code quality can also negatively impact users’ perception of the product, and the whole organization
  • future development estimations also become less accurate if it’s impossible to predict how long it takes to add new features without breaking existing ones.

For anyone who is interested in reading more about the effects of low-quality code, we’ve dedicated a whole article to this topic not long ago.

 

What is the basis of our recommendations?

PHP has been one of our go-to technologies for custom software development projects over the last decade. It is our second most frequently-used programming language after Java.

We’ve encountered many PHP-based software projects across various industries that were struggling to move forward because the source code had gotten so unstable that it was difficult, or straight-up impossible to develop further.

We were only able to stabilize these software products and continue feature development after running a whole assortment of tests and completing a ton of code refactoring work. The following recommendations are based on the experience gained throughout these projects.

 

5 Great PHP Code Analysis Tools

 

phpstan static php code analysis tools

PHPStan PHPStan is a static code analysis tool that focuses on finding errors in the source code without having to actually run it. It catches whole classes of bugs even before you write tests for the code. PHPStan might be the most commonly used tool and also one of the newest.

 

Sonarqube: is another widely-kown option for static code analysis. It incorporates thousands of automated code analysis rules, protecting code on multiple fronts, and guiding development teams toward quality. They also provide an IDE extension, Sonarlint which works well to supplement the CI offerings.

 

Pslam is another great static code analysis tool for finding errors in PHP codebases. It was released in 2016 and has grown in popularity a little more slowly than others. This tool also fixes bugs automatically, allowing developers to improve their code without too much extra work.

 

Scrutinizer Scrutinizer is another widely used analysis tool. It seamlessly integrates into the software development workflow, and continuously builds and deploys application code. It’s free for open-source projects but is only available as a hosted solution. This makes Scrutinizer the most popular option for open-source development.

 

checkstyle php code analysis tools

PHPCheckstyle: is a static code analysis tool used in software development. Its main purpose is checking whether PHP source code complies with coding rules. It basically automates the lengthy process of checking code and helps PHP developers enforce coding standards.

It can find anything from class or method design problems to code layout and formatting issues. You can find the complete list of checks here.

Checkstyle has a large number of plug-ins as well that let teams integrate continuous code checks into their projects.

 

Summary

Of course, these are just recommendations. What PHP code analysis tools you someone ends up using will be based on their own experience and preferences.

Selecting the right PHP code analysis tools for your own development projects should be based on a fair amount of testing and their compatibility with your technology stack of choice.

If at any point you find yourself in need of another set of eyes during code analysis, don’t hesitate to reach out to us with your questions.

Thanks for reading our article!

RabIT Solutions

RabIT is an innovative software engineering company from Hungary. Our goal is to help startups and enterprises drive growth through technology innovation and make a real impact in their industries.

Code quality and transparency are our main priorities throughout each project.

SoftwareBY RabIT Solutions

Today, certain terms in software engineering often get confused with each other. A common example of this is Quality Assurance vs Quality Control vs Software testing.

They might sound very similar and interchangeable at first, but these terms actually have their own separate meanings.

If you’ve had anything to do with IT projects, you have likely come across them already. If you’ve been following our blog, you also probably noticed that we spend a lot of time discussing software quality-related topics and issues. This is mainly because we believe that focusing on quality during development projects is more important than ever, considering the enormous competition between service providers.

This is why we’ve decided to clarify these topics, to give you an understanding of the areas you need to focus on to effectively achieve higher quality. Other reasons why we think software product quality is crucial:

  • Development tasks start to take longer to complete, bug fixes take up more and more of the team’s time, missing deadlines and prolonging crucial updates.
  • Future development estimations become highly inaccurate and unreliable, turning project planning into a nightmare for your management team.
  • With a low-quality product that doesn’t sell or actually help customers, your chances for turning a profit drop significantly.
  • Poor source code quality can also negatively impact customers’ perception of your product, and the whole organization.

 

To introduce effective quality management practices into your own development processes, you must understand what the terminology represents, and what purpose each activity serves first.

So let’s jump into the topic of Quality Assurance vs Quality Control vs Software Testing, starting with QA.

 

Quality Assurance

Quality Assurance is a set of methods and activities to verify that the final software product gets developed in accordance with requirements and specifications. Its goal is to validate the quality and functionality of the software before release, and make sure that the final product provides the best possible user experience.

QA should be an essential part of the software development life cycle as a planned strategy that details the testing and evaluation processes in order to achieve high product quality.

Quality Assurance is a top-level strategy that works out ways to detect and eliminate possible bugs and errors in the software. Contrary to popular belief, its main focus is not on completing the operations-level testing activities. Rather, it is to establish management-related areas like development methodologies, issue resolution, project management and analysis, etc.

QA is process-oriented, not specifically product-oriented. It is about working out the methodology of preventing defects, engineering processes that help product development teams achieve quality in an effective and efficient way.

So, to summarize, Quality Assurance is not about identifying and fixing specific defects. It is a way to create processes that help your team identify and fix any upcoming issues and defects throughout the entire project lifecycle.

By the time you get to actual quality control and testing activities, you must already have a top-level QA strategy in place if you want to maintain project efficiency.

 

 

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Quality Control

Quality Control is the process of checking the degree of readiness of the software product to release and its compliance with the requirements. As a process, QC is a part of the wider Quality Assurance methodology.

It is about examining the actual results of development before release. So as opposed to QA, which works on the process level, Quality Control is product-oriented.

QC is done by comparing the developed results to what was expected in the original requirements documentation. The state of the source code itself also has to be examined and compared to programming standards, architectural documentation, security requirements, etc.

The findings from this process allow development managers to prepare necessary quality correction measures depending on the current stage of the project. In some cases, QC is also used to verify whether the best possible technical solutions, programming languages, frameworks and tools were used by the developers or not.

So, unlike QA, which is proactive, QC is reactive. Quality Control detects bugs by examining the product itself before it gets released. This basically means checking if the product meets the predetermined set of requirements.

 

Software Testing

Software Testing represents the operations-level activity of actually checking the software for errors and bugs. This can be done using various methods such as:

  • Usability testing – Checking if end users will be able to easily use and understand the software. Helps identify usability issues and improve user experience.
  • Compatibility testing – Verify that the software works perfectly on devices with various screen sizes, running different operating systems. In case of web applications, this includes testing cross-browser compatibility as well.
  • Functional testing – Checking whether the software works in accordance with feature specifications and business requirements.
  • Performance testing – Also includes load and stress testing. It means testing the robustness and stability of the software under extreme conditions.

So what is the main difference between Quality Control and Software Testing? So far they sound quite similar.

Software Testing represents the activity of running or executing a program with the intention of finding defects, while QC is a way of managing these defects. 

After identifying software defects, additional rounds of testing must be performed as well to check if they are fixed. Testing is absolutely crucial in making sure that the product reaches your customers with as few errors and bugs as possible.

Developers may interpret some requirements and functions in a different way than intended by the product owner. That’s why it is essential to have a software tester who can check if everything is functioning as required.

Testing has to be an integral part of software development throughout the entire project, performed by professionals with strong expertise in finding every possible user scenario to test each function thoroughly.

 

To summarize

By understanding the basic terminology of Quality Assurance vs Quality Control vs Software Testing, you’ve made the first step towards achieving consistently high product quality. To summarize once again:

Quality Assurance represents the very top-level strategy, focused on establishing and optimizing necessary quality management processes.

Once this is established, it is up to Quality Control to examine the state of the actual product and provide a framework for the operations-level Software Testing activities.

Establishing effective Quality Assurance processes is a lengthy process that requires careful planning and a lot of optimization on the management side. For more information and guides about the topic, follow our blog or reach out to us and ask your questions directly.

 

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RabIT Solutions

RabIT is an innovative software engineering company from Hungary. Our goal is to help startups and enterprises drive growth through technology innovation and make a real impact in their industries.

Code quality and transparency are our main priorities throughout each project.

Dedicated TeamBY RabIT Solutions

The 4th industrial revolution has caused traditional businesses to shift their focus towards digitization. Many organizations that don’t have software developers on their payroll now need to decide whether to form their own development teams, or outsource their projects to outside providers.

Because you are currently researching this topic, we are going to assume that you’ve already decided to hire external professionals instead of building an in-house development team.

Deciding whether to hire freelancers or an agency to carry out key development projects is not an easy one either. Most software projects require significant time and money investment, and the future of your entire business can depend on the results.

Disclaimer: Since this article was written by a software development agency, it’s fair to expect some bias in here. However, our goal is not to say that agencies are always the 100% right choice in all cases. Instead, the article is only meant to outline the general thought process one should follow when deciding whether to hire freelancers or an agency. There are projects for which working with freelancers makes more sense and vice versa.

With this out of the way, let’s start by examining the benefits and downsides of hiring freelancers as well as agencies.

 

Benefits of hiring freelancers

Lower development rates –  Because they have no overhead costs to worry about, freelancers are usually able to offer more cost-effective rates compared to agencies.

We list this as a benefit here, but lower rates alone don’t mean that your project will be more cost-efficient. If a project gets delayed due to poor source code quality or project management issues, the actual final cost can become much higher.

In-house employment is an option – Companies often decide to permanently hire freelancers who perform well over a longer period of time. The availability of this option only depends on the freelancer’s plan for the future, while it is rarely possible with agencies.

High-level specialization – Freelancers often decide to become specialists in a few development technologies, making them reliable experts in their own field. This can sometimes be a downside too, if your project requires the use of a wider range of languages and frameworks.

Scaling the team is easy – Recruiting new freelancers for a project is relatively fast and easy. There are many freelancer platforms and recruiting agencies out there who can help you do this as well. Once you recruit new team members, the senior development lead can help on-board them to the project.

Note: While finding freelancers is easy, it’s fairly difficult to realistically assess their competencies before actually hiring them. If you don’t have a thorough skill assessment procedure in place, finding the right people to join your project can also take a long time.

 

Potential downsides

Management issues – After a certain point, it becomes very difficult to manage a large team of freelancers. This is especially true if they are working from different locations and time zones. Tracking performance and work progress are among the main management challenges.

Working from home in general can have its own downsides. At first it might sound great, but in practice it can be difficult to provide consistent results if the work environment is too unstable. Potential distractions, and lack of control can cause work to slow down and lose focus.

Communication can be difficult – Without careful coordination,  working from different time zones also weakens the flow of information between team members. It can be extremely time-consuming if you constantly have to ask for updates from each freelancer on your team. Agencies often solve this by dedicating a person to this role full-time.

Also, if there are too significant cultural differences between the employer and freelancers, the effectiveness of communication can decrease further. Even carefully written task specifications can be misinterpreted by the other party, causing delays in the project.

Work overload & split focus – Freelancers often work for multiple clients at the same time. They can also get distracted by solo projects of their own, potentially slowing down the progress of others. Motivating freelancers to focus more on your project can also be difficult. Increasing salaries only works as a motivator up until a certain point.

Potentially high fluctuation – Freelancers often have a change of heart about their careers, either deciding to seek full-time employment or change specialization. This can mean high fluctuation over the course of a longer project, causing progress to slow down every time you have to on-board a new team member.

On the other side of things, agencies will likely remain available for the long run.

Replacing key team members is difficult – If a developer who has spent years developing your software suddenly decides to leave the project, replacing him or her can be a real challenge. Without having detailed documentation, it can also take weeks or even months for new developers to figure out how everything works in the source code.

 

 

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Benefits of hiring  an agency

Streamlined project management and QA processes– Agencies usually have highly optimized project management methodologies in place. Dedicated project managers can help you take care of team monitoring and communication tasks. This allows you to focus more on other, also important areas of your business. You can be sure that the team will be able to effectively communicate in your language, because project managers are specifically trained to possess the necessary language skills.

It is not the case for every agency, but many also have in-house quality assurance and code review processes, which guarantee higher software quality.

Larger knowledge pool – If you work with an agency, you gain access to the combined technical knowledge of dozens of development experts. This is essential for larger, more complex projects that require in-depth experience with multiple platforms, languages and frameworks.

Higher accountability and reliability – While freelancers can disappear from a platform overnight, agencies are registered and regulated by their local governments. If managed well, they can serve as long-term partners over the course of multiple years or even decades.

Signing legally binding development contracts with them also provides much more security for your business, with clearly defined accountability.

Takes care of scaling the team for you – You don’t have to worry about scaling the development team either if you choose to work with an agency. They usually have plenty of available developers to dedicate to a project. They are often also in constant contact with IT recruitment agencies to be able to hire additional developers quickly if necessary.

You also don’t need to worry about replacing key developers if they unexpectedly become unavailable. Agencies can seamlessly take care of this as well.

 

Potential downsides

Higher development rates – Agencies usually work with somewhat higher hourly rates than freelancers. This is understandable, as they also have to cover certain overhead costs. Also, most of these expenses will serve the purpose of ensuring a smoother development process and higher product quality.

They are able to offer added services such as team scaling and recruitment, QA, project or product management and more.

Changing teams can be difficult – If for some reason you decide to take your project to another development agency, this can be hard to do in certain cases. Some agencies might refuse to give you full ownership of the source code, or the contract can even prohibit changing providers over a previously agreed upon time period. We don’t do any of this to provide a high level of freedom for our clients, but these practices do exist in the industry today.

Can’t employ their developers in-house – Permanently hiring a dedicated developer into your in-house team is usually not an option. If it is, it usually comes with a very steep price. However, agencies like ours are always more than happy to long-term partnerships with clients.

 

Based on these benefits and downsides, we can already draw some conclusions.

From our own and our clients’ experience, it’s usually more effective to hire freelancers as an extension to your own team when you already have a well-established development process setup. Management, on-boarding, mentoring, issue tracking, review and other methodologies and processes already should be in place by the time you look for external people.

Without these processes, there will be no way of telling if the cooperation is truly effective or not.

On the other hand, development agencies already have these processes, and competent ones can be trusted to handle the setup of the entire development team. Although this comes at a steeper price than working with freelancers, they can help project owners with either technical or non-technical backgrounds find a fitting solution.

 

How to decide if you should hire freelancers or an agency for your project

Depending on who you ask, and how you define project failure, the IT project failure rate is around 50-70%. Many software projects get cancelled or run out of budget due to project management issues, lack of development experience and various other reasons.

This happens regardless if someone decides to hire freelancers or an agency, or even in-house developers.

With all this said, it is clear that project owners need to be extra careful when choosing development partners. In our opinion, some projects are really well-suited for freelance teams, while others absolutely require the full attention of a dedicated software development agency.

We aren’t saying that it is impossible to complete a certain project with either freelancers or agencies. Our experience shows that some types of projects are simply better suited for one setup than the other.

Many different aspects need to be considered before making this decision. Some of these are:

 

hire freelancers or an agency comparison

 

 

Project scope

In project management terms, scope means the defined features and functions of a product. It can also represent the scope of work needed to complete a project.

If the scope of your project contains the development of a wide range of features for multiple platforms, using different programming languages and frameworks, you should probably consider hiring an agency.

For shorter projects with a more narrow scope, such as developing a website or building an application with only a few core features, it is often more beneficial to hire freelancers.

 

Complexity

Similarly to project scope, you should also take software complexity into account here. A highly complex program is comprised of many different parts that all interact with each other, often through multiple software platforms. Building such a system requires careful coordination, planning and management throughout the whole project.

Agencies are usually better equipped to handle such a project. They have optimized project methodologies in place, and can dedicate specialists to each management and development role.

We’re not saying, of course, that complex projects are impossible to complete with a team of freelancers. If you decide to go with this setup though, you must be prepared to dedicate a significant amount of time to managing the team and monitoring their progress.

 

Scaling

As we mentioned, managing a large team of freelancers can be very difficult. For projects that require you to scale the development team over time, it is definitely more beneficial to work with an agency.

On the other hand, if you are prepared to manage the work of a few freelancers, and you know for sure that you won’t need to scale the team in the future, you can safely choose this option as well.

If your team is prepared to handle scaling management, technical recruitment project management, etc., then hiring freelancers can still be a viable path for you.

 

Accountability

As many other forms of investment, development projects also come with a high amount of risk. Over the course of a longer development project that can last multiple years, many things can go wrong.

In this case, you want to have certain measures in place that guarantee your business’ safety. As government-registered and monitored entities, development agencies are easier to hold accountable if they fail to hold up their end of the deal.

If your project is really key to your business’ success and involves a high level of risk (high investment), we recommend hiring an agency over freelancers.

 

Risk management

This factor is also somewhat connected to the previous one. The best way to prevent failure is to implement risk prediction and prevention measures. Having constant performance monitoring and quick issue resolution procedures can greatly increase your project’s success.

Agencies can usually offer more risk management solutions compared to freelancers. There are more eyes on the project at all times, if a key team member becomes unavailable, someone else can quickly fill in for them. Dedicated project managers can also warn you about potential delays and risk factors in time.

Again, consider the level of risk involved in the project carefully before deciding whether to hire freelancers or an agency.

 

Technical recruitment capabilities

As we mentioned earlier, assessing and verifying software development capabilities can be quite difficult. If your team isn’t equipped with the proper knowledge to complete the vetting process, you risk hiring people with the wrong capabilities.

Agencies usually already have these skill assessment processes in place. They need to make sure that they only hire capable developers, as this is directly linked to their success as a service provider. They can also invest time and effort into improving certain skills of their developers.

If  you are able to set up the necessary technical recruitment processes in-house, hiring freelancers can be a good option for you. Otherwise, go with an agency.

 

Project management capacity

This issue only comes to light when the project has reached a certain level of complexity. After a certain time, product owners notice that they dedicate too much time to monitoring the developers’ progress, and other, also important areas of their business doesn’t get enough attention.

To avoid this, you need to make sure that you have someone on your team who is able to handle project management tasks, even when the project reaches its later stages. If this is not a problem for you, working with freelancers can be beneficial.

If you don’t want to worry about project management, or don’t have in-house knowledge about the right methodologies, we recommend that you work with an agency.

 

To Summarize

The decision whether to hire freelancers or an agency should always be based on the project’s specific requirements. Certain projects can be much better suited for freelancers than agencies and vice versa.

Before making a decision, consider factors such as project scope, software complexity, future scaling, accountability and risk management.

If you aren’t satisfied with the performance of your initial team, don’t be afraid to change to another provider. It is much better to cut your losses early and focus on getting the project back on track instead of wasting additional resources.

Thanks for reading our article. We hope it provided you with some useful new insights. Best of luck to you on your search!

RabIT Solutions

RabIT is an innovative software engineering company from Hungary. Our goal is to help startups and enterprises drive growth through technology innovation and make a real impact in their industries.

Code quality and transparency are our main priorities throughout each project.