My perspective about Software Architecture

In this article, I will like to discuss about two perspectives of Software Architecture that I learnt from my works and books;

The two perspectives are:

  • Macro Software Architecture: A high level view describing the overall system of the software service;
  • Micro Software Architecture: A lower level view describing the internal structure of a software;

swa_motherboard
Credit: satyricon86

Macro Software Architecture

swa-concept-macro

Why we need

When we build a software or a service, we usually consist of many functions to fulfil different requirements;

  • Some of them are required by the end users. e.g A push notification will be received if my friend sent something;
  • Some of them are required by the Marketing colleagues. e.g how many Daily active users;
  • Some of them are for the availability. e.g Backup the data to another servers;

Therefore, it will be several different software systems or components to achieve different requirements; In order to help the team know clearly about how the software can built, it is a good idea to draw the macro architecture;

What should describe

The macro software architecture should tell the following information:

  • What are the entities (Software systems, Users, …) involved?
    • What are the systems we should build ?
    • What are the systems are provided by other developers?
  • How the entities connect to each others?
    • Is it using http connection and in REST style?
    • Is it using socket connection and with connection pool?

My Example

Triend – A social networking app built by my company:

In our app, it consists of several software parts:

  • Two mobile client (android and iPhone);
  • An application server
  • A database
  • File system storing the images sent by users
  • Push Notification Web service (provided by Parse)
  • Geocoding Web service (provided by Google)
  • Several Backup scripts

And are connected in different ways:

  • HTTP connection in REST style
  • Socket connection with connection pool
  • File I/O

 

Micro Software Architecture

swa-concept-micro

Why we need

When we build a software system, we may encounter an issue that the requirements of the system is keep changing or adding; To deal with it, need design a micro software architecture that is change-friendly; Unlike the Macro Architecture, micro architecture focus how one system perform its functions which may be one of your product’s services; A good micro architecture also help us to resue code from one project to another;

What should describe

In order to make a good micro software architecture that can adapt change, you need think which part in the architecture are the core business logic and which part are common logic;

So the micro architecture should tell about:

  • The base architecture: The common logic that help building the business logic;
  • The components: The logic that serving the system requirements;
  • How can components plug in the base architecture; This is also called “Interface”;
  • The internal modules contained in the base architecture;

Metaphor

I would like to “a computer” as the metaphor of the micro software architecture; When opening a computer case, you will see different parts, the motherboard, cpu, memory, hard drive, etc, … ;

The motherboard is like the base architecture; There are lots of slots that fit different components; There are jumpers for configuration;

CPU, Memory, hard drive, etc are like components; They just do their own tasks, memory for storing data, CPU for calculation; They also need to have a proper interface to that let them plug into the motherboard;

My Example

Shooter – A cocos2d-x shooting game

In my game, the base architecture is the Cocos2d-x game engine; The engine help me on a lot of things such as render my object to the screen, user input handling, gui building blocks, scene transition;

And the components I built are:

  • My game objects – My spaceship and enemy monsters;
  • Game scenes – Title Screen, Game scenes, ..

 

Final Notes

When building a software, the knowledge of architecture is important for us no matter you are using it or making it; It can prevent us not eroding the software and can help us build new function in a more efficient way; Another note I like to mention is that Software architecture cannot be designed perfectly in the early stage, it should evolve or rebuild sometimes;

 

Useful Resources

 

 

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