You don’t start building a house without architectural plans, and it’s important to hire a good architect to ensure that the plans are solid. Similarly, to build software for any website or app, you need good software architecture to ensure a solid foundation. Software architecture plays a crucial role in delivering successful software. In spite of the fact that software architecture is very tech, few know about it or how to implement it.
Software architecture is considered as the foundation of a software project, to ensure its scalability, security, quality, and stability. In this article, we’ll be discussing everything you need to know about software architecture, why it is important, and some key considerations for creating a good software architecture framework.
Software Architecture: An Overview
“The software architecture represents the “significant decisions”, where significance is measured by cost of change.” – Grady Booch
Software architecture is a continuously evolving and blended set of technical decisions and architectural patterns. They are made so that the code structure can fulfill every software prerequisite that is being developed while exemplifying transversal attributes such as performance, quality, scalability, maintainability, manageability, and usability.
Failure of attributes may result in productivity loss for users, damaged customer relations, revenue loss, cost overruns due to redesign, and missed market windows. Therefore, a software architect must focus on the initial issues in the development process during the architectural design phase to avoid poor performance.
It’s very important to methodically think through software architecture before you start writing your first line of code. Frontend and backend developers must team up from the initial stages of development to guarantee that the structure developed is constant with great scalability.
Objectives of Software Architecture
To understand the important elements of a framework that adds to its cost, utility, effort to build, and risk to use, within its environment.
- At times, the basic elements are physical or structural components of the framework and their relationships.
- Sometimes, the important elements are functional, or logical elements
- In other cases, what is important to the understanding of a framework, is its key principles or patterns
Principles of Software Architecture
The basic hypothesis of any architecture should be the belief that the design will develop over time, and that one can’t know everything up-front. Usually, the design needs to evolve during the implementation phases of the software as one learns more.
Keeping the above things in mind, here are some of the architectural principles.
The framework should:
- be built to change instead of built to last
- show the architecture to analyze as well as to reduce risk
- use models and visualizations as a collaboration and communication tool
- use an incremental and iterative approach to refine the architecture
In order to start testing the design against requirements and assumptions, don’t try to get it all right in the first attempt. Iteratively, add details to the design over various attempts to ensure that you get the big decision right first, and then focus on the details later. A common setback is to dive into the details too quickly to evaluate your architecture effectively.
Why is Software Architecture Important?
Below are three reasons why software architecture is so essential to development:
- A base for Communication: Software architecture is a design of the framework, and is primordial for understanding the communication between stakeholders like a customer, management, user side, etc. Actually, it makes it easy to understand the entire framework, thus, making the decision process more proficient.
- The Initial Decisions: The decisions and planning at the initial stage in software architecture have great importance for every project. It becomes very difficult to change the decision or process at an advanced level.
- Transferability of the Model: Software architecture is the model of the product and how it will work. With the help of architecture, the code can be reused as well as the requirements. All the experience we get while doing this can be transferred.
The architecture will show any usage problems you may experience. It even shows the hierarchical structure and makes it significantly easier to make decisions, and manage all changes. It allows us to get a better time & cost estimation of a project.
But, What Makes Good Software Architecture?
Below are the attributes that make good software architecture:
- Functionality: Refers to the level of performance of the software against its intended purpose
- Reliability: Refers to the ability of the product to offer desired functionality under the given conditions
- Usability: Refers to what extent the software product can be used with ease
- Performance: Refers to estimation by considering processing speed, response time, resource utilization, throughput, and productivity
- Supportability: Refers to the ease with which programming developers can transfer software from one platform onto the next, without any or with minimal changes
Staging: An Integral Part of Architecture
A good architecture is always aware of mechanisms at work. Staging is not just limited to the exhibition designs. The architecture of a building, a museum, or an apartment building, is always staged, but not always intentionally. Every building with every space within or adjacent to it brings out a specific kind of behavior. Therefore, good architecture is always staged.
How to Differentiate between Good and Bad Architecture?
“The difference between good and bad architecture is the time you spend on it.” – David Chipperfield
Good architecture is all about ensuring what we are building is right. Good architecture is invisible, easy to maintain, and user-friendly as the solution is user-friendly and users adopt it effortlessly.
Whereas bad architecture is only invisible in the beginning, it becomes evident gradually as time passes. Bad architecture is hard to maintain; basic integration is not possible; changes cause the framework to break conceptually; the code is hard to read; and problems arise quickly.
We are living in a time where buildings are quickly replicated from one location to another. Real estate developers are not concerned by what’s around a structure.
A good building always considers the area and the surroundings. Customers look for places that are comfortable and secure. The architecture of the building is important.
Similarly, good software architecture positively engages and attract customers, if it builds trust with its online presence, and communicates well with clients, by understanding their designs, asking questions, and sharing ideas regarding the project.
Considerations for Software Architecture Development
A software architect must define the solution clearly – what he expects to create, based on the concerns of the different groups of users who will interface with his software. They should consider the following:
- The concerns of the end users, including the right instinctive behavior, reliability, performance, security, availability, and usability
- The concerns of the system administrator, including intuitive behavior, observation, and administrative tools
- The concerns of the marketer, including cost, positioning relative to other software, time for marketing, and competitive features
- The concerns of the customer, which incorporate cost, schedule, and stability
- The concerns of the developer, including project requirements and a steady yet basic design approach
- The concerns of the project manager, including budget, schedule, and consistency, as it identifies with following the task, and the most effective use of the available resources
- The concerns of the maintainer, which include the simplicity of making modifications, and a consistent and complete design approach that is well-documented.
The Software Architectural Landscape of the 21st Century
As software architecture develops, software architects need to change by identifying the key forces detailing software architecture decisions.
The key forces are often determined by the demand of businesses to get quick results, achieve enhanced software design adaptability, enhanced help for various work processes and work styles. There are also times when the user demand is the fundamental driver of these key forces.
Here are some key patterns in the software architecture space that you ought to look out for:
Taking Advantage of Prevailing Market Maturity
By benefiting from the prevailing market maturity, a software architect can use existing technologies and platforms for software development. This helps them focus on bringing out the exclusive offering of the software, rather than investing a good amount of time in restructuring things that already exist. The software architect can use existing design patterns that are known to be proven solutions for some common software development challenges.
Adopting a Strategy that Revolves around User Empowerment
Software architecture is centered around user empowerment, if it is configurable, adaptable, and has a phenomenal user experience. You should take as much time as necessary when designing software for your app to focus on user requirement and personalization levels. Good software enables users to characterize how they wish to connect with it, as opposed to directing them how they ought to coordinate or interact with it.
Remember that it is essential to stay away from the temptation to over-burden the software with unnecessary settings and options that could end up confusing the user. All you need is to simply understand the user scenarios and do your best to disentangle them.
Adaptable designs are on trend to enhance viability. Developers prefer using flexible designs because they make use of free linking, whose impact on viability is imperative. By using pluggable designs, developers are able to offer extensibility even in the post-deployment period. You can use service-oriented architecture (SOA) and different strategies in service orientation to provide interoperability with other programming frameworks.
The Probable Direction of Future Trends
The skill of a software architect is to look into the future and accurately predict the direction that software architecture will take. By understanding what’s in store, you can design your architecture in a way that suits the plausible future changes you may need to line up with the current trends. For an industry where change is unavoidable, planning for it is an essential part of software architecture, a fact many software engineers have come to appreciate.
Good architecture aids in a better software development process. Though it’s possible to improve software architecture at an advanced stage, it is costly in terms of time, effort, and money. Therefore, it’s better to invest time and money to secure the overall architecture properly in the initial stages of the project and then refine its specifics as the project progresses, and new information is available.
Hopefully, this article has helped you understand the importance of good software architecture. It’s always important to think in the long term when it comes to building software to it functions efficiently.