The Full Wiki

Spiral model: Wikis


Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Spiral model (Boehm, 1988).
Software development process
Activities and steps
Requirements · Specification
Architecture · Design
Implementation · Testing
Deployment · Maintenance
Agile · Cleanroom · DSDM
Iterative · RAD  · RUP  · Spiral
Waterfall · XP · Scrum  · Lean
V-Model  · FDD  · TDD
Supporting disciplines
Configuration management
Quality assurance (SQA)
Project management
User experience design
Compiler  · Debugger  · Profiler
GUI designer
Integrated development environment

The spiral model is a software development process combining elements of both design and prototyping-in-stages, in an effort to combine advantages of top-down and bottom-up concepts. Also known as the spiral lifecycle model (or spiral development), it is a systems development method (SDM) used in information technology (IT). This model of development combines the features of the prototyping model and the waterfall model. The spiral model is intended for large, expensive and complicated projects.



The spiral model was defined by Barry Boehm in his 1988 article "A Spiral Model of Software Development and Enhancement"[1]. This model was not the first model to discuss iterative development, but it was the first model to explain why the iteration matters.

As originally envisioned, the iterations were typically 6 months to 2 years long. Each phase starts with a design goal and ends with the client (who may be internal) reviewing the progress thus far. Analysis and engineering efforts are applied at each phase of the project, with an eye toward the end goal of the project.


The steps in the spiral model iteration can be generalized as follows:

  1. The new system requirements are defined in as much detail as possible. This usually involves interviewing a number of users representing all the external or internal users and other aspects of the existing system.
  2. A preliminary design is created for the new system.This phase is the most important part of "Spiral Model". In this phase all possible (and available) alternatives, which can help in developing a cost effective project are analyzed and strategies are decided to use them. This phase has been added specially in order to identify and resolve all the possible risks in the project development. If risks indicate any kind of uncertainty in requirements, prototyping may be used to proceed with the available data and find out possible solution in order to deal with the potential changes in the requirements.
  3. A first prototype of the new system is constructed from the preliminary design. This is usually a scaled-down system, and represents an approximation of the characteristics of the final product.
  4. A second prototype is evolved by a fourfold procedure:
    1. evaluating the first prototype in terms of its strengths, weaknesses, and risks;
    2. defining the requirements of the second prototype;
    3. planning and designing the second prototype;
    4. constructing and testing the second prototype.


Game development is a main area where the spiral model is used and needed, that is because of the size and the constantly shifting goals of those large projects.[2]

The spiral model is mostly used in large projects. For smaller projects, the concept of agile software development is becoming a viable alternative. The US military has adopted the spiral model for its Future Combat Systems program. The FCS project was canceled after six years (2003 - 2009), it had a 2 year iteration (spiral). FCS should have resulted in 3 consecutive prototypes (one prototype per spiral - every 2 years). It was canceled in May, 2009


  1. ^ Boehm B, "A Spiral Model of Software Development and Enhancement", "Computer", "IEEE", 21(5):61-72, May 1988
  2. ^ Schell, Jesse (2008). "Chapter Seven: The Game Improves Through Iteration". The Art of Game Design. Elsevier. pp. 79-95. ISBN 978-0-12-369496-6.  


Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address