Software Dependencies: The General Aspects
Thanking technology for transformations that make things easier might start to sound like a cliché, but it’s true, and we might not stop any time soon. This is the case for software reuse.
Software dependency, a growing trend in software development, is when developers use pieces of pre-written codes (external libraries) to implement specific functionalities rather than writing the code from scratch.
These days, developers use these software dependencies because they allow them to deliver software quickly by building on previous work.
In this article, I’ll give a general overview of software dependencies and whether or not it’s a development worth adopting. Let’s get started.
What is Software Dependencies?
Dependencies are also called libraries or packages because they contain functions that can be directly incorporated into a program or software.
This use of open source, third-party code has become common practice in today’s software development because it allows developers to avoid writing code from scratch and speed up project development.
Software Dependencies can be mainly categorized into two types: Direct Dependencies and Transitive Dependencies.
Direct Dependencies are the actual libraries that your application directly references. On the other hand, transitive dependencies are the libraries that your dependencies use, i.e., the dependencies of your dependencies.
Nonetheless, both dependencies require careful management to avoid the risks involved with their usage.
Advantages of Using Software Dependencies
Using dependency in a software or a program has several advantages, including the following:
- It allows you to utilize the pre-existing codes directly and at any point in your software development process, i.e., not necessarily from the onset. Ultimately enable you to work faster and efficiently.
- It offers you better and more efficient functionalities than native implementation.
- You can easily manage dependencies.
Drawbacks of Using Software Dependencies
On the flip side, some drawbacks come with using dependency for a project.
- A larger dependency size might directly equate to a powerful software or program size increase.
- You cannot use broken functionalities within a dependency, even when they’re being fixed.
- Dependencies come with risks, so they must be managed carefully, especially when you have too many.
So how do you manage the dependencies?
Managing Your Dependencies
Using dependencies is relatively straightforward, but ensuring they’re up to date can be daunting, especially when trying to identify vulnerabilities and keep your code and software safe. But that doesn’t mean it is impossible.
Below are some tips on how to effectively manage your dependencies:
- Learn to Prioritize: Most of the time, dependency problems occur when a code isn’t regularly monitored and updated as needed. So, as a software developer working with a dependency, prioritizing your updates is of utmost importance, especially when vulnerabilities are involved. Simply put, the most critical dependencies must be identified and updated first.
- Establish policies: Working without clearly outlined procedures is a sure way to invite problems to any project. In the case of software dependencies, writing and implementing a transparent, open source, and dependency management policy early in the development process can help prevent loads of costly problems. This policy is a much-needed guide to your development and security teams, helping them deal with threats effectively.
- Save time by automating: Maintaining your dependencies means you need to be actively conscious of updates and bugs. This is why I recommend automating your dependency updates. It will help you stay ahead by updating your code library before any issues arise. In addition, automation also helps you reduce exposure to bugs and other technical problems.
Software dependencies are an excellent tool for developing software. However, a vital tip is to select the dependency based on the software’s required specifications to ensure the software is used correctly and efficiently.
More so, as the number of data breaches continues to rise, developers must be sure to pay closer attention to dependency management.