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What is the difference between upstream and downstream processes in software development?

System development involves several steps, ranging from customer interviews to proper construction. The first half of the procedure is referred to as the "upstream process," but if there are many flaws or misunderstandings in the upstream process, many problems will arise in the second half of the procedure, referred to as the "downstream process." The importance of management and the upstream and downstream processes of system development are discussed in this article.

What is the difference between upstream and downstream processes in software development?

 2022-09-23

What is the difference between upstream and downstream processes in software development?

System development involves several steps, ranging from customer interviews to proper construction. The first half of the procedure is referred to as the "upstream process," but if there are many flaws or misunderstandings in the upstream process, many problems will arise in the second half of the procedure, referred to as the "downstream process." The importance of management and the upstream and downstream processes of system development are discussed in this article.

 

1. Upstream and downstream in the manufacturing process


It has nothing to do with software development, but let's start simple. We can define upstream and downstream software development based on this. There are three steps to take:

  1. Parts gathering
  2. Assembling components
  3. Painting in preparation for assembly

 

 

Because the manufacturing process is similar to a river, it's easy to see that you're progressing downstream as you go from step to step.

 

The following rules can be derived:

  • Dependency rules: From its point of view, each item is dependent on all items upstream.
  • Value Rule: As you move downstream, each step adds more value to the product.

 

Let's now apply these rules to various software development scenarios.

 

2. Software dependencies upstream and downstream


Most software components are interdependent with one another. So, what exactly are upstream and downstream dependencies? Component C is dependent on component B, which is dependent on component A.

 

We can honestly say that component A is upstream of component B, which is upstream of component C using the dependency rule (even though the arrows point in opposite directions).

 

Applying the value rule here is a bit abstract, but because component C "imports" all features of components B and A and adds its own value to those features in downstream components, it can be said to be the most valuable.

 

3. Open source projects in the upstream and downstream


Another context in which the terms "upstream" and "downstream" are frequently used is open-source development. In fact, it's very similar to the component dependencies described above.

 

For open-source projects, this is a fairly common development style. Make a fork of the project, then fix bugs or add features to the fork before submitting the patch to the original project.

 

The dependency rule in this context makes Project A an upstream project. This works well in the absence of Project B because Project B (the fork) does not exist without Project A (original project).

 

4. Micro (upstream and downstream) services


システム開発の「上流工程」とは?下流工程との違いや流れ、ポイントを解説

 

We also talk about upstream and downstream services in a microservices-based system. Obviously, both dependency and value rules apply in this context.

Service B is an upstream service because it is dependent on Service A. Because it increases the value of service B, service A is also a downstream service.

 

It is important to note that the "stream" defining upstream and downstream, in this case, is not the data stream entering the system via service A, but the data stream from the system's heart to the user-facing service. The further downstream a service is, the closer it is to a user (or end-user).

 

5. Conclusion


In contexts where the terms "upstream" and "downstream" are used, two simple rules can be used to determine which items are upstream or downstream of another.

 

We hope that this article has been useful in considering the system process for offshore development in Vietnam. In addition to offshore quality assurance, Hachinet is working on offshore development that prioritizes quality. Please contact Hachinet if you have any questions about offshore development or system development. We will do everything possible to assist you with your offshore project.

 

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