From Good to Great: The Path of Software Improvement Through Optimization

In this insight publication, we discuss how developers enhance software code to make it run faster and utilize fewer system resources.

October 2, 2023

Software optimization is the process of refining software code to improve its performance, reduce its demand on system resources, prolong the battery life of mobile devices, ensure stable operation even on basic gadgets, and decrease its dependence on internet speed.

During software development, optimization is not a primary, but a very crucial stage, often applied as systems evolve for businesses during their digital transformation. Developers employ various methods for this, but they all have similar features.

Performance Analysis. Before beginning software optimization, an analysis of the current performance of the code is conducted. Specialized profiling tools are used to identify bottlenecks in the application, allowing efforts to be focused where there is the greatest potential.

Algorithmic Optimization. This method of software optimization is the most effective – choosing the right algorithms is crucial for achieving high performance. Altering those that were incorrectly used can lead to an exponential increase in operational speed.

Code Optimization. This stage involves making minor changes to the software code, regardless of the programming language it is written in. In this case, faster operations can be used, and the number of memory accesses can be reduced. This process should not be confused with refactoring, which we discussed in this publication.

Parallelism. The processors used in modern devices are equipped with multiple cores, so using this approach can significantly accelerate application execution. However, it’s important to remember that such a procedure is not always a panacea and can often produce the opposite effect.

Memory and Database Optimization. Efficient memory utilization can reduce data access times and decrease the likelihood of swapping. If the software interacts with a database, optimizing queries, indexing, and normalization can significantly improve performance.

Network Operations Optimization. Reducing the number of requests can decrease latency and accelerate software operation. It is crucial to properly distribute tasks between the frontend and backend parts of an application. We discussed these different parts of modern digital products in this publication.

Testing and Monitoring. After any changes have been made to the software code, a crucial step is also to test it, which ensures that optimization attempts haven’t introduced errors. Moreover, it’s important to regularly check the application's speed under real-world conditions.

In general, software optimization is a continuous process requiring a deep understanding of the entire system and the objectives set for the team. Attempts at excessive optimization without a real necessity can overly complicate the code, making it difficult to maintain and implement new features.

Therefore, experienced specialists in software development inevitably seek a balance between performance and code readability. Moreover, they need to understand exactly on which devices and under what conditions the applications will be used. Often, optimization simply doesn’t make sense.

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