Most developers enjoy using the high-level systems, but not all how these are built. In fact, before development even begins, one will need to choose the right architecture that will produce the desired functionalities. This is why it is crucial to understand all of the various software architecture design patterns before one applies any to their project.
Software architecture refers to the fundamental structures of a software system and the discipline of creating such structures and systems. Each structure comprises software elements, relations among them, and properties of both elements and relations. The architecture of a software system is a metaphor, analogous to the architecture of a building. It functions as a blueprint for the system and the developing project, laying out the tasks necessary to be executed by the design teams.
Software architecture is an “intellectually graspable” abstraction of a complex system. This abstraction provides a number of benefits:
- It gives a basis for analysis of software systems’ behaviour before the system has been built. The ability to verify that a future software system fulfils its stakeholders’ needs without actually having to build it represents substantial cost-saving and risk-mitigation. A number of techniques have been developed to perform such analyses, such as ATAM.
- It provides a basis for re-use of elements and decisions. A complete software architecture or parts of it, like individual architectural strategies and decisions, can be re-used across multiple systems whose stakeholders require similar quality attributes or functionality, saving design costs and mitigating the risk of design mistakes.
- It supports early design decisions that impact a system’s development, deployment, and maintenance life. Getting the early, high-impact decisions right is important to prevent schedule and budget overruns.
- It facilitates communication with stakeholders, contributing to a system that better fulfils their needs. Communicating about complex systems from the point of view of stakeholders helps them understand the consequences of their stated requirements and the design decisions based on them. Architecture gives the ability to communicate about design decisions before the system is implemented, when they are still relatively easy to adapt.
- It helps in risk management. Software architecture helps to reduce risks and chance of failure.
- It enables cost reduction. Software architecture is a means to manage risk and costs in complex IT projects.
In the next couple of weeks, we will be looking at different types of software design patterns. Stay tuned!