Difference between Greenfield and Brownfield software projects

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Software has taken over most economic activities worldwide – it is one of the fastest growing and most profitable industries as of now. Software developers combine their skill, existing methodologies, aesthetic sense and software development tools to create new software which have the ability to truly revolutionize the way we live our lives. The two ongoing concepts of software development in the world currently are greenfield and brownfield, and the greenfield vs brownfield debate has been going on for quite some time now. The following article will be a guide for beginners to differentiate between the two concepts.

In essence, any greenfield development project – irrespective of whether or not it is related to software – is a project that starts from scratch. Whereas, a brownfield project is one that has had some work done on it and doesn’t need be started from scratch.


What is the major difference between a greenfield an brownfield software development project?

Greenfield software development is when individuals start out with a software project. They start on a clean slate and developers don’t make use of or deal with any older development. Additionally, their development project isn’t limited to any restrictions whatsoever. However, a brownfield development can go two ways: it could either be an upgrade to an existing software developed by some other developer or it could be redeveloping an existing software with significant changes. An example of this would be a developer taking care of any existing issues within an application or software.

What are the pros and cons of greenfield software development?

One of the major benefits of greenfield software development is that the software they develop is more than often state-of-the-art and the very high quality. This is because since it is built from scratch, developers can ensure that only high-quality infrastructure makes its way into the software, and no sub-par work is done.

Another advantage of greenfield development is that developers don’t feel constrained or limited in anyway. They don’t have to follow an existing infrastructure or data. There aren’t any dictated notions that they are required to follow and they can do their own thing.

A major disadvantage of greenfield software development is that for beginners there isn’t any form of direction that they can follow. This increases both a learning curve and the risk involved in software development. The risk factor comes in due to security issues that beginners may have. There is also a time lag associated with greenfield software development when you consider the constant demand associated with new software and applications.

Another issue with greenfield development developers need to work endless hours to define each and every aspect of the software development process.

What are the pros and cons of brownfield software development?

One major advantage of brownfield software development is that developers have a specific drive and direction towards what they have to achieve. They have access to all defined, tried and tested solutions that they merely need to apply to an existing software. They can also use existing codes and apply or edit them to develop new features in existing software.

A major disadvantage associated with brownfield software development is that a developer’s considerable time and effort goes into understanding and editing the software’s current workings and developments in order to make suitable changes. Working on a legacy code can be a time consuming process if developers do not understand the business and its processes.

How does your greenfield or brownfield development technique affect the end product?

Essentially, when you begin a greenfield software development project, you start from the very beginning and lay all the groundwork yourself. However, when you begin a brownfield development project, you begin work on the base set either by previous developers or software that helps you get started. Chances are that you are fixing issues pertaining to previous developers, and as a developer you need to be apt at figuring out any issues and fix them. Software development has truly been revolutionized since the inception of these two different and distinct type of software development techniques.

Greenfield software products aren’t as common as they used to be previously. This is because developers rarely build software from scratch, and often make use of existing software and programs that help them in software development. On other hand, brownfield products also comprise any software that is built by taking help from an existing software.

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