Imagine you’re building an app to connect healthcare providers with their patients. You’ll likely get started by defining the app’s design and architecture, which involves a long list of considerations. In this example, you may ask yourself, “how will the messaging portal function?”, or “how can we make this app accessible for those patients who may be vision impaired?”
As software development has evolved over the years, the number of software architecture patterns to help us answer these questions and solve these problems has grown tenfold. Today, there is a multitude of popular software architecture patterns that each provides unique solutions for varying app types.
Software architecture patterns are common, reusable solutions to the problems we frequently encounter in software architecture. In this article, I will outline four popular software architecture patterns every software developer should know:
• Layered Pattern
• Client-Server Pattern
• Microservices Pattern
• Model View Controller Pattern
This software architecture pattern is one of the best known and most used in the industry. A lot of online shops and some desktop applications incorporate this type of architecture pattern in order to build a software solution.
With the layered pattern, each layer is an abstraction of a functionality of the system that provides services to the higher-level layer. There are three commonly known layers in this pattern:
• Presentation: This layer is the interface the user is going to use to communicate with the software
• Business Logic: In this layer, we are going to find all the logic calculations and data management the business requires
• Persistence: This layer provides access to our database in order to search and save data that we require
While these are the most common layers, we can always add more layers or sub-layers to our system as needed.
This software architecture pattern is present in many of the tools that we use every day, like email and document sharing platforms. The client-server pattern is based on a centralized server that can receive requests from different clients, who can also receive information from the server. It is very common that the server is going to be in a listening/awaiting status for any request that could be triggered by the clients. When the server accepts a request from any of the clients, it opens a connection under a protocol in order to answer this request. The server could be one of two types:
• Stateful: This type of server can receive a lot of requests that are going to be saved in order to process all of them in a respective session
• Stateless: This server is able to process only one request that isn’t required to wait for any results of other requests, due to the fact that the server does not contain any state of previous requests.
The client-server pattern can be very useful inside a banking software environment.
This software architecture pattern has gained a lot of popularity in the last few years due to the flexibility and improvement opportunities it provides. In comparison to the monolith architecture pattern, where the application is built in one place as a unit so that all the functionality is in one “package”, the microservices pattern involves systems built based on many little and independent applications that, together, manage to shape the system. It is here where we can see some of this pattern’s advantages, like deploying just the microservice that you need, providing a more organized and simple way of building really large applications.
The microservices architecture pattern is the reason why many monolith applications are being refactored to be a microservices application so that they can continue growing. We can find this software architecture pattern inside many projects involving Big Data.
Model View Controller Pattern
There’s no doubt that this software architecture pattern is one of the most widely used in the World Wide Web, in the countless applications we have online these days, and in some different frameworks, like Spring and Rails.
The Model View Controller pattern is all about having a “layer” called ‘model’ that is in charge of containing all the data of the application, such as functionality and logic. Then we have the ‘view’ layer that is responsible for showing the information to the user. Finally, we have the ‘controller’ layer that manages all the interaction from the user with the system, so that it can understand all the user inputs. This architecture pattern provides the advantage of avoiding repetition of code in our system and also provides an organized way for building software.
There are many different ways to design the software we need to build, from a few small projects to an application that needs to be built by many developers. These software architecture patterns help us to improve the structure of our projects and the knowledge about how the projects work for all the people involved in the system, lending more effective communication inside the team. These architecture patterns are some of the most common ones in the industry, as they are highly efficient and capable of solving the necessities we often face when trying to build a software solution. As the software development industry continues to improve, we are likely to see many new software architecture patterns emerge.