“Exploring the Importance of Intentional Design in Software Architecture”
Software Architecture refers to the fundamental design of a software system, which encompasses the high-level design decisions and relationships between its various components. It is an integral part of the software development process, as it provides a blueprint for the development and implementation of the software, and has a significant impact on the overall quality and success of the software.
It outlines key concepts such as,
Which determine how the software will operate and meet the needs of its users.
The architecture serves as a guiding principle throughout the software development process, ensuring that the system is designed and implemented consistently and efficiently.
The purpose of software architecture is to bring order and intentionality to the design of software systems, and to ensure that the software meets the requirements of its users.
Software Architecture encompasses the high-level design and relationships between components in a software system, serving as a blueprint for development and ensuring its quality and success.
► Object-Oriented Programming
In Object-Oriented Programming, encapsulation enforces loose coupling, inheritance reduces duplication, and polymorphism makes behavior pluggable through the invocation of similarly named functions based on object type.
These concepts simplify code structure, enforce loose coupling, reduce duplication, and make behavior pluggable. This functionality can also be achieved in non-object-oriented languages through the use of function pointers, but object-oriented programming provides a more disciplined approach.
► Functional Programming
The concept of state changes is removed and a variable cannot mutate once assigned. This restricts the programmer and requires a shift from using loops to recursion.
Although it may be less intuitive, it offers advantages such as producing the same result with the same inputs and making it easier to reason about problems.
Functions can be treated as a first-class citizen and assigned to variables or other functions, allowing for the use of high-order functions. This leads to simplifications, as collections can be iterated through with high-order functions, such as mapping elements to a function and returning the resulting array in a single line of code.
Overall, high-order functions offer a concise and powerful way of expressing logic, reducing code and achieving the same result as looping and branching.
Coupling is a crucial metric in software design. The higher the coupling, the worse the design. Coupling refers to the degree of interdependence between different modules. Any changes to a module will require corresponding changes in its coupled modules.
In structured programming, programs were designed with graphical reasoning about program branching and display of parameter passing across modules. This kind of diagram is still used today by some reverse engineering tools as it provides a comprehensive understanding of the code’s structure and function.
Tight coupling can have negative effects, as it limits the freedom of the programmer. Assembly language programmers have more freedom in their programming, while object-oriented or functional programmers have constraints in their code structure. This can be seen as a trade-off between flexibility and discipline.
When discussing software architecture, cost is a key factor. Tight coupling, where changes in one part of the system require changes in many other parts, leads to a fragile system that is costly to maintain. A system with intellectual integrity, where one person can understand it fully, is easier to maintain and less prone to errors.
In the evolution of software science, data structures and algorithms were developed to solve common problems in a predictable and efficient manner. As computer scientists, including mathematicians, recognized the potential of these “recipes,” they became known as algorithms. This evolution helped create a more structured and understandable software design.
In software engineering, a software design pattern is a reusable solution to a commonly occurring problem within a given context in software design. It is important to note that a pattern is dependent on context and must not be applied outside its intended context. Applying a pattern outside its intended context is incorrect and does not provide a good solution to the problem at hand.
One example of a software design pattern is the Model-View-Controller (MVC) pattern, which was developed at Xerox while working on the first windows system using Smalltalk. MVC is just one of many patterns and it is important to understand that it is not a universal solution to every problem in software design.
The overreliance on a single design pattern, such as MVC, can lead to problems in software development. While it is a useful tool for structuring UI interaction, it should not be applied blindly to all software applications. This can result in code that is difficult to read, maintain, understand, and change. The Single Responsibility Principle dictates that each component should be responsible for a single function, and overusing the MVC pattern goes against this principle.
Using the same pattern in all cases is a one-size-fits-all approach, which can lead to inflexible software that cannot adapt to changing requirements. In some cases, the misuse of MVC can result in code that is hard to maintain and understand.
While other design patterns may attempt to solve some of these problems, blindly following a fixed recipe without considering the context is naive and superficial. Good software architecture requires careful consideration of the problem at hand and a tailored solution, not a cookie-cutter approach.
In conclusion, the adoption of any specific pattern as a mandated pattern by some organizations is not necessarily a good thing. It is important to reflect on the problem at hand and choose the architecture that best suits the context, rather than blindly applying a pattern without considering its relevance.
The “Clean Architecture” approach promoted by Uncle Bob Martin emphasizes the importance of minimizing coupling, complexity, and cognitive load. Good architecture requires design work and a clear understanding of the problem, rather than blindly following a particular pattern.
The implementation of any architecture is just one interpretation of the concept of Clean Architecture and there is no one-size-fits-all solution.
It is possible to create your own architecture, based on the principles of Clean Architecture, by following Uncle Bob’s writing and thinking critically about the consequences of your choices. It is important to keep in mind that design patterns such as MVVM, MVP, and Clean are related to UI and should not be confused with full-fledged architectural frameworks. History has shown that patterns can be misused, so it is crucial to understand their purpose and context before applying them.