Since the birth of computer programming, code has been reused. But these reuse practices took place mostly on an ad hoc basis. But over the years it has grown to a whole lot more becoming one of the pillars of software development.

If you look at software development methodologies, you’ll notice that most don’t explicitly identify reusable components. But that doesn’t mean that it’s not taking place on a regular basis.

The use and reuse of code is quite different in a development scenario. Firstly, use is quite generic in nature where it can cover common utility libraries and frameworks. Reuse, on the other hand, is highly domain specific like business logic.

Software development these days usually doesn’t start from scratch; as a result, a component-based approach does play a significant role in using existing code to develop new software.

As such, there’s a significant cost saving here as you won’t need that extra manpower to build new software and it also expedites the whole development process.

This component-based approach can also be transferred to user interface (UI) development. This is crucial as not only is UI development the future of the web, but it’s also a method that needs to be implemented by all digital application developers.

This approach enables developers to build a sustainable technical architecture which again saves time and money.

What is a Component in Software Development?

In the context of software development, a “component” can be defined as a piece of software that is independent. It’s a discrete and standalone piece of software that contains all the application dependencies and is accessible via an API.

It has a clear boundary and it’s able to leverage the full library of components. As a result, even in a UI development scenario, it can speed up the build significantly while cutting costs.

Components can also be perceived as atomic units that allow reuse in future software development cycles. This is highly valuable as technologies come and go, so being able to swap components in and out to adapt to the changing environment can be crucial for the survival of your applications.

Component-Based Development Helps You Stay Consistent

Things like cost savings and accelerated development are well-known characteristics of component-based software development. But it also helps with maintaining consistency when it comes to user experience (UX).

It’s a major challenge to ensure that applications provide consistent UX and interaction across your portfolio. With a component-based library, you have an approved reference point. So all teams will be able to access it to ensure quality assurance (QA).

How Reusables Help Optimize the Development Process

When building components, the code is managed within the source code. This can be managed at a repository like GitHub.

Development teams are usually very familiar with using source code repositories, so they will able to extract the code they need and incorporate it into the application quickly.

Developers can also submit the code to a repository for review, approval, and inclusion. Further, you can also track which applications are on which versions of the approved UX. This is enabled because the component library can be versioned within the repository itself.

Whether its software development, UI or UX, the primary benefits of reuse components are cost savings and acceleration of development. But not everyone is a fan of reusables because the benefits can be relative to your development goals.

If the development team isn’t highly experienced, there can be delays related to the time it takes to understand how the system should function. Further, there can be problems with integrating the code with databases, other code pieces, configuration, and web services.

So you might have to do a lot of the following if things don’t go according to plan:

  • Deploying
  • Debugging
  • Re-bugging

There’s also the issue of creating dependencies because you didn’t write the code yourself. The more you engage in the reuse of components, the more dependencies you will have. With more dependencies, you’ll automatically have more re-bugging.

I guess the lesson here is to do your homework before you start the component-based development process.

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Andrew Zola is a freelance writer, designer, and artist working in branding and marketing for over ten years. He is a contributor to various publications with a focus on new technology and marketing.

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