Web application and software: which architecture to choose?

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When embarking on a web application or software development project, one of the first questions to ask before starting to develop the targeted tool relates to its architecture.

The definition and choice of software architecture is completed during the design phase. The architecture of a software tool represents the way that the elements will be organized and arranged – and how they will interconnect with each other. The architect generally has the role of designing the architecture.

In many cases, the conceptual phase of configuring software architecture is often overlooked because it is not given the importance it deserves. If no architectural work or conceptualization has been thought of upstream, then the web, mobile or software application will likely be unstable, inefficient and difficult to evolve or grow. Which – as you can probably agree – can be problematic for anyone investing in an software development project, or offshore it projects, in order to grow their business or scale sales of their product(s).

Choosing the most relevant architecture for your software requires design work.
Choosing the most relevant architecture for your software requires design work.

What type of architecture should we orientate towards? How to choose the best architecture, considering the context?

The criteria to be observed in choosing a software architecture

To be sure that the chosen software architecture will meet the needs of the software that will be developed, it is very important that the architect fully grasps and understands the business needs that will be served. These should be as equally understood as the technical and functional expectations of the application. Among these criteria, these are the aspects to consider:

  • Security and performance requirements
  • Client and vendor expectations
  • The type of hosting
  • Operating systems
  • Technologies

To sum up, a good architecture is characterized by the following capacities:

  • Evolution
  • Level of simplicity
  • Maintainability
  • Interconnectivity

If you have incorporated these four aspects into your software architecture design then you are on the right track.

The architect and his team will now need to define the “design pattern” – otherwise known as the “architectural motif” or “design motif”. It is essential that the project team define the right architectural motif. In web development, the most commonly used approach tends to be “three-tier architecture,” which is also known as “three-layer architecture.”

MVC type architecture (Model-View-Controller)

In the world of web or software development, when navigating from one project to another, you often encounter the same type of problem. This is why a set of good practices have been created and compiled, which are collectively termed “design patterns.”

The goal of a design pattern is to provide a solution to a design problem. The MVC model is one of the most famous. The MCV model manages 3 components: access to the database (Model), the display of the page (View) and the calculation and decision-making logic (Controller). Having a well-organized source code that informs you of the role of the files you need to create will definitely help. The MVC model divides the code into 3 parts.

Model: the model is dedicated to the management of application data. It will collect the information in the database and organize it so that it can be subsequently processed by the Controller. SQL queries can be found in this component.

View: The view is responsible for displaying data. This is where we find some HTML code, loops and some PHP conditions.

Controller: the controller acts as an intermediary or conductor between the model and the view. The controller requests the data from the model. It analyzes them and sends the text back to the view, which displays it. The controller only contains PHP and makes the decisions. It is up to the controller, for example, to decide whether or not a user has the right to access a page. So, it manages the access rights to the software pages.

Of course, this design pattern also has its drawbacks. For example, any change that takes place at the controller or view level will impact the other in turn, and vice versa. If an infrastructure change is necessary, then a significant part of the code will have to be rewritten.

Clean Architecture

The mission of Clean Architecture is to reduce the dependencies between the business logic and the other components (API, database, interface, external services, etc.) The first advantage of Clean Architecture is that it allows the software to be more easily scalable – it can adapt better to future changes and developments.

This type of architecture will therefore give you more leeway because it is more abstract and less segmented than the MVC model. However, a certain logic must be respected when you choose to design your software using Clean Architecture.

This is the type of design logic that your Clean Architecture must adhere to:

  • Do not depend on frameworks and libraries. You should view and use them as tools, and they should not constrain you.
  • Do not depend on the user interface: depending on development needs, the interface must be able to change form, from console to a web interface, for example.
  • Do not depend on any external system.
  • Do not depend on the database. It needs to be possible to change the database management system during the process.

Questions to ask to ensure you choose the right architecture

Keep in mind that the changes that are applied on your software solution will directly impact the proper functioning – or dysfunction – of your architecture. When a piece of software is adapted or evolves, the result can be an underlying architecture that is ultimately unsuited to what the software has become. This is why we will always advise aiming for a scalable type of architecture. A piece of architecture and the demands placed on it will not remain fixed in place for very long. Considering an inevitable increase in the volume of data, new functional needs, new integration needs – and more – software architecture must be able to adapt.

Bocasay is an offshore IT development company created in 2013 with its first offshore development center based in Madagascar. We support you throughout your web app, mobile app or software development projects. Do not hesitate to contact us to discuss your project.

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