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What is Software Architecture? Tools, Design, and Examples

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29th Aug, 2022
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What is Software Architecture? Tools, Design, and Examples

Software architecture is a part of our daily life. Almost everything we do daily, like using mobile phones, sending emails, etc., makes use of the software architecture of the device that’s being used. Software architecture remains hidden in the background as not many people know what it is exactly or how to use it.

This article will take an in-depth look at software architecture to understand the framework that makes innovations and technical revolutions possible in an organization.

What is Software Architecture?

Software architecture, in a nutshell, can be described as the assembly of a software system. This assembly comprises all components, their interaction with each other, the environment in which the components function, and the principles used in the software design. In some cases, it can even include the future evolution of software.

Software architecture is designed with a single or multiple goals. The goals have to be achieved without interrupting the performance of other tools and devices. The structure and behavior of the software influence important decisions, so the architecture needs to provide the best results. 

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How is Software Architecture used in Software Engineering?

In Software Engineering, software architecture helps display only the structure and concealing implementation details of the system. Software engineering and software architecture often overlap as they have a lot of things in common, like focusing on the interactions between elements and components. The overlap happens as common rules govern them. 

Principles of Software Architecture

Software architecture principles govern the process of building and modifying software. The principles help in improving scalability, flexibility, security, and reusability. The main agenda of the software architecture principles is to make sure the solution satisfies the business requirements and is technically secured. Here is a gist of these principles.

  • Prevent crucial single point of failure
  • SOA storehouses are built on a broad range of technology
  • Provide practical support to developers and architects
  • Making reuse of services practically feasible
  • Creating a robust deployment system that makes the enforcement of the guidelines automatic

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Software Architecture and Design

Software architecture and design are two different entities but only have a thin line between them.

Software architecture is a blueprint for a system that defines how a system works and the complexities involved. The primary role of architecture is to establish and maintain a good relationship among components.

It aims at providing a structured solution to cater to all technical and functional requirements while simultaneously taking care of the performance and security of the system.

It also impacts a few decisions on software development that determine the final product’s quality, maintenance, performance, and success.

These decisions include:

  • Finalizing structural elements and their interfaces that form the system
  • The behavior of elements during collaboration
  • Composition of behavioral and structural elements that create a huge subsystem
  • Alignment of the architecture with business decisions

Software Design

Software Design offers a design plan that describes the elements, how to fit them into the system, and makes them work together to meet the requirements.

The main objectives of a design plan include:

  • To meet system requirements, fit into the expectations of customers, management, and marketing professionals
  • To serve as a blueprint during the process of development
  • To assist the process of implementation that includes detailed design, integration, coding, and testing

While software architecture and software design have similar roles, software architecture makes a greater impact on the overall system.

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Software Architecture Tools

Software Architecture tools are essential for the application and software developers to design and create a basic software structure and then provide information and insights about the software architecture of a system.

They help represent how a system will interact with existing components, new software, users, data sources, and many more.

Refactoring is a process of remodeling existing codes without modifying their functionalities. This technique is applied during the modernization and migration of applications to the cloud. 

CAST imaging can reduce the length of the refactoring process, which otherwise takes a lot of time. It modifies all database structures, code elements, and the interactions of complex software systems down to the smallest details generating accurate and interactive blueprints of the architecture.

It is vital to use good software design tools to prevent faults in the software architecture, thereby saving the safety and reputation of an organization. 

Here are some of the commonly used software architecture visualization tools:

  • Enterprise Architect: It provides a centralized common source of information about architectural specifications, code details, and metadata. It provides features specific to processes in development like modeling, model transformation, reverse engineering, documentation, and generation of codes. 
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The features of Enterprise Architect can be extended to Unified Modeling language and provide a platform for visualization and design based on UML. 

  • Microsoft Visio:  It facilitates the users to easily generate flowcharts, diagrams, organizational charts, and many more by pairing with Office 365 or when accessed from a web platform. Visio enables the users to share the charted flows and diagrams with other programmers and give accurate data flow documentation. 
  • Lucid chart:  Lucid chart offers a web interface and a range of templates to generate flow charts and diagrams for the development process. It also enables the users to collaborate online with other users to create architectural designs and process flowcharts. 

The main reason for the popularity of Lucidchart lies in its simplicity and intuitive functioning. In addition, it connects with a broad set of platforms, making things easier for programmers working in a complex software environment.

  • Visual paradigm: Visual paradigm helps the DevOps teams and programmers to model the whole development process efficiently. It provides core engineering features and can support modern modeling languages and standards like Service-oriented Architecture Modeling Language and Business Process Modeling Language. Developers can use the templates to generate system documentation or class diagrams. Visual paradigm also supports database design and process analysis. 
  • Draw.io: It is a web-accessible tool with an interactive interface and a space for architectural layouts and diagrams. It helps the users collaborate using tools like Google, thereby enabling multiple developers to work simultaneously. The diagramming features of Draw.io are easy to use. 

Examples of Software Architecture

The most common examples of software architectural patterns are message services, microservices, service requester, MVC patterns, microkernel, n-tier, domain-based design elements, and abstraction/ presentation control.

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Pavan Vadapalli

Blog Author
Director of Engineering @ upGrad. Motivated to leverage technology to solve problems. Seasoned leader for startups and fast moving orgs. Working on solving problems of scale and long term technology strategy.
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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1What is load balancing?

Load balancing is the process of disseminating workload uniformly among various machines or clusters. The most common and popular algorithm for load balancing is Round Robin. In Round Robin, the request is spread in circular order to ensure all the machines are assigned uniform work, and none of them is overworked or underworked. Load balancing is done to use the resources optimally, achieve the highest throughput and reduce the response time.

2What is the purpose of software architecture?

Software architecture and its documentation are used to predict the qualities of a software system. It is the foundation of the software system. The quality and performance of a software system are dependent on its architecture. In short, the primary purpose of a software architecture includes: 1) Defining a solution to meet the demands 2) Enhancing the quality attributes. 3) To simplify the communication process among stakeholders 4) Managing unexpected changes in the software system.

3What are the popular tools used by Software architects?

Communicating a goal or an idea for cloud computing needs interactive diagrams that comprise logic. Below are a few popular tools used in software architecture for this purpose Diagrams.net, Lucidchart, Gliffy, Visio, Omnigraffle, Kubernetes

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