A Guide To Software Development Architecture

  • Was your project not able to iterate after a few rounds of development?
  • Did your project turn legacy after a few months of development?
  • Want to develop a software project that ensures scalability?
  • Looking for software that manages complexity and helps to make a platform work faster?

Here the software development architecture comes into the picture. From booking a movie ticket in quick seconds to ordering online food; there is a software architecture that plays an integral role. So, whether you are a developer or an entrepreneur and want to understand software architecture; this guide provides complete in-depth information.

After reading this guide, you will know which type of software architecture you should use in your software project and the right process to design and develop the software architecture. Being a leading software development company in Canada, we have written this guide with the help of our top software developers.

Let’s start from zero.

What is Software Architecture?

Software architecture is a blueprint for a software application. It defines how multiple components of a software system come together, their relationship, and the communication between them.

Software architecture serves as the basis for software development and helps the software engineering and development team understand how to build the system. A system represents the collection of components that accomplish a specific or set of functions.

Software architecture decisions influence the system’s quality, performance, maintainability, and overall success. The software system architecture provides a robust foundation to build your own custom software. You must consider common problems and long-term consequences to save your system from risk. Modern designs often use multiple high-level architecture patterns.

Let’s know about their importance.

What is the Importance of Software Architecture Patterns?

Software architecture patterns solve a range of problems of different categories. They can segment complex user requests into smaller chunks and distribute them across multiple servers instead of burdening a single server. They also simplify the testing protocols by dividing the software segments so you don’t have to test the entire thing at once.

Although that captured the theme, we’ll look at some more pointers that effectively prove the importance of software architecture patterns.

  1. Identify the Basic Attributes of an App

    Architecture patterns help you identify the basic characteristics of an app. How? Because some architecture patterns enable highly scalable applications while others fuel agile applications.

  2. Minimise Issues and Enhance Quality

    Most applications face some kind of issue. Selecting an architecture pattern after understanding the qualities you’re aiming for will help you minimise issues and enhance quality.

  3. Promote Agility and Problem Solving

    Software applications undergo a range of iterations during and after development. Having a core architecture in place makes all upcoming iterations hassle-free. It also clearly elaborates on how the application and its various components will function. This makes it easier to solve potential problems and errors.

  4. Enhance Efficiency

    Architecture patterns introduce standardised principles which make the project’s scope much clearer. They also make it easier for the company to understand the project’s status.

    Since you know the importance of software architecture, let’s understand the right process to develop the software architecture.

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How to Design and Develop Software Architecture?

Here’s what you need to follow to develop software architecture-

  1. Understand the Requirements Thoroughly

    You must have a comprehensive understanding of functional and non-functional requirements so that your stakeholders are satisfied. Visuals will give you a better understanding; follow these steps to map your requirements –

    • Begin with a high-level view—use mind mapping.
    • Start with functional requirements and move on to non-functional requirements as they shape the scope of your project.

    Before starting with the software architecture design, know the cost and timeline by getting the work breakdown structure(WBS) developed for your software.

  2. Focus on Each Component

    It’s time to identify the implications of your listed requirements. Begin with identifying what your design ideally looks like and start working on a draft. Make sure your stakeholder’s ideal outcomes do not contradict each other or other functional and non-functional requirements.

    Your architecture planning is likely to change as you move, know that it is okay.

  3. Breakdown Your Architecture

    Dividing your architecture into slices will help you use your resources optimally. You need to understand individual features as well as individual components for your project’s success.

    On a safer side you should always prepare the software requirement specifications (SRS) document that includes all your software development functional and non-functional requirements.

  4. Create a Prototype

    A prototype will enable you to discover your proof of concept so that you can finally validate your assumptions. Carefully document all that you learn from prototyping including your design decisions and changes. Set up robust version control so you have a single source of truth. And finally, make sure to diagram your prototype so you can visualise the differences between various versions.

  5. Don’t Miss Out on Non-Functional Requirements

    Non-functional requirements are what make up your system’s characteristics. Remember that non-functional requirements are not always high-level and may sometimes interest a particular department (customer service, for instance). It’s therefore important that you’re not just focussing on abstract terms like performance or compliance or portability but quantifying these terms.

What Makes an Ideal Software Development Architecture and Why?

Here are the attributes of an ideal software development architecture –

  1. Scalability

    An ideal software architecture is supremely easy to scale up or down. In the day and age where consumption of digital services is skyrocketing, you cannot miss out on scalability.

  2. Easy to Understand

    An ideal software development architecture is purposely easy to understand and comprehensively represent the structural details of the system. Keeping software architecture simple helps the developer roll out new changes. A complex architecture will slow down the incremental development process in case of bug fixes.

  3. Stability and Reliability

    An ideal software development architecture is highly available and always provides the intended functions under any given circumstance. No one likes to use unstable software that provides a bad user experience. Netflix uses chaos monkey to test the stability of its application stability, for example.

  4. Easy To Monitor

    Software development architecture is ideally easy to monitor. Why? Because metric tracking will provide better insights that you can use for further improving the software.

  5. Measurability

    Ideal software architecture is measurable. Because measuring the application performance helps in deciding the baseline performance. Using the baseline, detecting the anomalies becomes easy.

  6. Impacts Organisational Structure and is Proven to Work

    Your ideal software architecture directly impacts the organizational structure and manages the stakeholder’s requirements carefully. It also isn’t based on guesswork and relies on styles that have witnessed tremendous success in the past.

    By tracking the appropriate metrics, you can ensure that software development is progressing in the right direction.

These are some of the attributes of ideal software architecture. But these will matter when you understand the problem you’re solving. Once you’ve identified the problem and its corresponding solution, it’s time to make an architecture choice to help you achieve your goals.

Examples of Software Development Architecture

The architecture of a system is essential because it supports the implementation of business requirements. It defines how the different parts of the system address these requirements. The architecture should reflect the business goals and objectives of the organisation, but it also has to support its technology strategy.

Functional software architecture results in a high-quality product that is easy to maintain over its lifetime.There are many software architecture patterns that you can use for your software development.

We discuss some of the widely used architecture patterns in the subsequent section – “What Are The Top Software Architectural Patterns?

Let’s discuss the NetFlix system architecture in brief.

Netflix is an excellent example of microservices architecture. This pattern is most suitable for websites and web apps that have small components.

Netflix’s application has three main components:

  1. Client: The device (user interface) you use to browse and watch Netflix videos, such as your TV, Xbox, laptop, or mobile phone.
  2. CDN: Netflix’s CDN (Content Delivery Network) handles everything involving video streaming. Once you hit the play button on your device, the videos stream from this component. CDN distributes content in different locations around the world.
  3. Database: This part handles everything that doesn’t involve video streaming, such as onboarding new content, processing videos, distributing them to multiple servers in different parts of the world, and managing network traffic.

Which are the Best Software Architecture Design Tools?

When using proper software architecture design tools, you must consider

  • Security – Understanding how security risks impact your company’s bottom line is essential before developing your new app. It means understanding what attacks are likely to happen on your platform, how they could affect users, and what steps you can take to minimise risk.
  • Functionality – A great way to ensure that your app is functional right out of the gate is by using prototypes instead of final products as part of your initial testing phase. Prototypes allow you to see if there are any significant issues with your design before it becomes too late!

A software architect can use the following tools for designing software architecture.

Modelling Tools

  • StarUML
  • IcePanel
  • Enterprise Architect
  • Archipeg
  • Astah

Diagram As Code Tools

  • PlantUML
  • GraphViz
  • Diagram.code
  • Web sequence diagram

Diagramming Tools

  • Lucid Chart
  • Draw.io
  • Cloudcraft
  • Archium

Software architecture design tools help with this process by identifying and eliminating flaws in the initial setup. The best software architecture design tools will also be able to identify potential issues and fix them before they become full-blown problems.

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Which are the Top Software Architectural Patterns?

Architectural patterns are like a cheat sheet for building software. They’re repeatable solutions that address everyday situations, so you can save time and energy when designing your following product.

Architectural patterns can be a big help when designing a software. They make your work more efficient, productive, and cost-effective.

And best of all?

They make it easier to solve these issues by providing repeatable designs that address everyday situations.

Sr no.Software DevelopmentDescription
1.Layering patternsThis pattern contains distinct layers of subtasks that execute in a specific order. It is easy to implement layered architecture. Still, splitting up the layers later can be challenging. The four major layers are the business logic layer, data access layer, application layer (service layer), and presentation layer.
2.Event sourcing patternEvent sourcing is an event-driven architecture pattern that sends a continuous stream of messages to a database, web server, log, or another target. It’s highly flexible but demands a highly efficient and reliable network infrastructure to minimise latency.
3.Circuit breaker patternThis software architecture pattern minimises service disruption by rerouting the traffic to another service. It aims to provide high availability and fault tolerance. You need good infrastructure management tools for its implementation.
4.Client-server patternClient service pattern is an enterprise architecture with client and server components. The architecture facilitates communication between the producer (server) and the consumer (client). The client requests the server to fetch resources (data, content, files) and the server sends over the requested content. It comprises a client-making service to the server. One of the standard implementations of client-server architecture is the world wide web, file sharing, and more.
5.Controller- responder pattern

This pattern breaks down the application into two parts – controller and responder.

The controller handles the data and assigns workloads. The responder replicates the job and provides results. The controller acts as the point of contact. Any failure in the controller will lead to disruption.

6.Model view controller (MVC) pattern

In this pattern, the application gets divided into three major components.

  • The model contains application data and core functionality.
  • The view includes the user interfaces.
  • At the same time, the controller acts as the medium between model and view. It takes the user’s input.
7.Microservices pattern

Extensive services are broken down into small independent services in this software architectural pattern. These independent services work together to complete a task.

You can roll out changes faster, but maintaining the multiple services independently requires constant effort.

8.Sharding patternSharding involves partitioning the data, so they are scattered equally across the database. Due to this, the database efficiency and query retrieval improve significantly.
9.Saga patternThe saga pattern is a messaging pattern that allows for complex transactions that require multiple steps, such as a travel reservation service. The design includes the various stages for the transaction to complete.
10.Pub-sub patternThe pub-sub pattern is a simple yet powerful way to send messages to places that have subscribed to a topic. It’s easy to configure but more challenging to test because of asynchronous interactions between the publisher and the subscriber.

Still have doubts? Let’s understand the next FAQs section.

FAQs About Software Development Architecture

  1. Is it necessary to hire a software architect?

    Yes. It is essential to hire a software architect. They are responsible for making high-level design and frame choices. They also plan the software solutions and are a significant part of the software development life cycle.

    Many times, a software architect is confused with a software developer.

    The former takes care of gathering and organising requirements, participating in code reviews, designing project parts and their interactions, and choosing the most beneficial software patterns. While the latter only deals with software code development.

  2. What is a software development style?

    Software development architectural style makes it easier for programmers to understand and maintain the code and reduce the likelihood of errors. You can develop guidelines from coding conventions used in an organisation with variations of style for different programming languages.

    The most crucial aspect of any programming style is consistency. Key elements of the software development style guide include naming conventions, use of comments, and formatting (indenting, white spaces).

  3. What makes a good software development architecture?

    Documenting software architectures reveal that good software development architectures know what you have today while looking toward the future. This helps you plan for your current needs and what you may need tomorrow.

    The good architecture supports operational excellence as it’s easily maintainable and scalable. If it can’t do that, it isn’t worth much!

    It also must provide a user-friendly structure for developers or end users internally or externally. Performance is critical here because it impacts everyone’s experience with your product.

Take Advantage of Software Development Architecture

When starting a new development project, it’s easy to be overwhelmed by the list of tasks that you need to complete. While it’s essential to keep focused on what needs to get done, it is also important not to let yourself get bogged down in the details.

When building software, it’s best to start by designing a good Software Architecture.

It will ensure that your software can scale as the business grows. And that you won’t have any significant technical debt issues later down the road.

Plus, every stakeholder will understand how to proceed to complete the project successfully.

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Rakesh Patel

Written by

Rakesh Patel is the Founder and CEO of Space-O Technologies (Canada). He has 28 years of IT experience in business strategies, operations & information technology. He has expertise in various aspects of business like project planning, sales, and marketing, and has successfully defined flawless business models for the clients. A techie by mind and a writer at heart, he has authored two books – Enterprise Mobility: Strategy & Solutions and A Guide To Open311

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