A simple explanation about Software Architecture and Software Design

I have been working as a software developer for many years now. In my experience, many people (including myself) confuse these two processes and talk about them interchangeably as if they are the same thing, but they are not. I hope this post helps clarify the distinction between these two important processes. For years I didn’t understand the importance of good software architecture, but with experience comes the realization of how vital solid architecture and software design is. It can save a lot of money and time and increase a software system’s performance, usability, security, and scalability.

Software Architecture

Software architecture focuses on the high-level infrastructure of a software system to allow for flexibility, security, and scalability of a system. The goal of software architecture is to make fundamental structural choices to meet the business and technical requirements. Therefore, the choices made in software architecture are important and need to be carefully analyzed as these will be too costly to change once a system is implemented.

There are many architectural styles or patterns in existence to accomplish these tasks. These architectural patterns help establish reusable groups of design decisions and constraints that are applied to a system to generate the desired output and quality.

Some of these architectural patterns include the following:

  • Client-server (n-tier architecture for example)
  • Event-driven
  • Layered
  • Microservices
  • Pipes and filters
  • Service-oriented

Once the architecture of a software system is complete, a software development team can use it as a guide or blueprint to make educated software design decisions before starting to write any code.

Software Design

Software design is where the implementation details of all parts that will make up a system are conceptualized. Software design is what happens after software architecture and before the programming starts. The result of software design is often a plan to implement tasks such as coding, testing, integration, and deployment.

Experienced software developers will review design considerations during this phase. These considerations should reflect the goals and expectations of all stakeholders. Some of these considerations include:

  • Extensibility
  • Modularity
  • Reliability
  • Reusability
  • Security
  • Performance
  • Scalability

Also, software design includes design patterns, which are reusable solutions to common problems within the context of software design. These design patterns are essentially best practices that software developers can use to solve common issues when designing a software application.

The following are some design patterns to speed up the development process with these proven development paradigms.

Some of the software design patterns can include the following:

  • Dependency Injection
  • Singleton
  • Factory Method
  • Facade
  • Decorator
  • Composite
  • Chain of responsibility
  • State
  • Event-based Asynchronous

If you want to learn more about the items listed above under architecture and design, I suggest looking online; there is plenty of information about each of these architectural and design patterns out there, and those details are outside of the scope of this post.

This post only overs software architect and software design at a high level, and if you are interested, I suggest you look into these two processes in detail. Below are some of the books I recommend on the subject:

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