travel expense

Application software

[ap-li-key-shuhn]

Application software is a subclass of computer software that employs the capabilities of a computer directly and thoroughly to a task that the user wishes to perform. This should be contrasted with system software which is involved in integrating a computer's various capabilities, but typically does not directly apply them in the performance of tasks that benefit the user. In this context the term application refers to both the application software and its implementation.

A simple, if imperfect analogy in the world of hardware would be the relationship of an electric light bulb (an application) to an electric power generation plant (a system). The power plant merely generates electricity, not itself of any real use until harnessed to an application like the electric light that performs a service that benefits the user.

Typical examples of software applications are word processors, spreadsheets, and media players.

Multiple applications bundled together as a package are sometimes referred to as an application suite. Microsoft Office, OpenOffice.org, and iWork 08, which bundle together a word processor, a spreadsheet, and several other discrete applications, are typical examples. The separate applications in a suite usually have a user interface that has some commonality making it easier for the user to learn and use each application. And often they may have some capability to interact with each other in ways beneficial to the user. For example, a spreadsheet might be able to be embedded in a word processor document even though it had been created in the separate spreadsheet application.

User-written software tailors systems to meet the user's specific needs. User-written software include spreadsheet templates, word processor macros, scientific simulations, graphics and animation scripts. Even email filters are a kind of user software. Users create this software themselves and often overlook how important it is.

In some types of embedded systems, the application software and the operating system software may be indistinguishable to the user, as in the case of software used to control a VCR, DVD player or microwave oven.

It is important to note that this definition may exclude some applications that may exist on some computers in large organizations. For an alternate definition of an application: see Application Portfolio Management.

Terminology

The exact delineation between system software such as operating systems and application software is not precise, however, and is occasionally subject to controversy. For example, one of the key questions in the United States v. Microsoft antitrust trial was whether Microsoft's Internet Explorer web browser was part of its Windows operating system or a separable piece of application software. As another example, the GNU/Linux naming controversy is, in part, due to disagreement about the relationship between the Linux kernel and the Linux operating system.

In computer science, an application is a computer program designed to help people perform a certain type of work. An application thus differs from an operating system (which runs a computer), a utility (which performs maintenance or general-purpose chores), and a programming language (with which computer programs are created). Depending on the work for which it was designed, an application can manipulate text, numbers, graphics, or a combination of these elements. Some application packages offer considerable computing power by focusing on a single task, such as word processing; others, called integrated software, offer somewhat less power but include several applications.

Application software classification

There are many subtypes of application software:

  • Enterprise software addresses the needs of organization processes and data flow, often in a large distributed environment. (Examples include Financial, Customer Relationship Management, and Supply Chain Management). Note that Departmental Software is a sub-type of Enterprise Software with a focus on smaller organizations or groups within a large organization. (Examples include Travel Expense Management, and IT Helpdesk)
  • Enterprise infrastructure software provides common capabilities needed to support Enterprise Software systems. (Examples include Databases, Email servers, and Network and Security Management)
  • Information worker software addresses the needs of individuals to create and manage information, often for individual projects within a department, in contrast to enterprise management. Examples include time management, resource management, documentation tools, analytical, and collaborative. Word processors, spreadsheets, email and blog clients, personal information system, and individual media editors may aid in multiple information worker tasks.
  • Content access software is software used primarily to access content without editing, but may include software that allows for content editing. Such software addresses the needs of individuals and groups to consume digital entertainment and published digital content. (Examples include Media Players, Web Browsers, Help browsers, and Games)
  • Educational software is related to Media and Entertainment Software, but has distinct requirements for delivering evaluations (tests) and tracking progress through material. It is also related to collaboration software in that many Educational Software systems include collaborative capabilities.
  • Simulation software are computer software for simulation of physical or abstract systems for either research, training or entertainment purposes.
  • Media development software addresses the needs of individuals who generate print and electronic media for others to consume, most often in a commercial or educational setting. This includes Graphic Art software, Desktop Publishing software, Multimedia Development software, HTML editors, Digital Animation editors, Digital Audio and Video composition, and many others.
  • Product engineering software is used in developing hardware and software products. This includes computer aided design (CAD), computer aided engineering (CAE), computer language editing and compiling tools, Integrated Development Environments, and Application Programmer Interfaces.

Examples

Enterprise software

Enterprise infrastructure software

Information worker software

Content access software

Educational software

Simulation software

Media development software

Product engineering software

References

See also

External links

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