Software Architecture

Software Architecture Photography by Cintabra ©

The field of computer science has come across problems associated with complexity since its formation. Earlier problems of complexity were solved by developers by choosing the right data structures, developing algorithms, and by applying the concept of separation of concerns. 

Although the term “software architecture” is relatively new to the industry, the fundamental principles of the field have been applied sporadically by software engineering pioneers since the mid 1980s.

Early attempts to capture and explain software architecture of a system were imprecise and disorganized, often characterized by a set of box-and-line diagrams. During the 1990s there was a concentrated effort to define and codify fundamental aspects of the discipline. Initial sets of design patterns, styles, best practicesdescription languages, and formal logic were developed during that time.

The software architecture discipline is centered on the idea of reducing complexity through abstraction and separation of concerns. To date there is still no agreement on the precise definition of the term “software architecture”.

As a maturing discipline with no clear rules on the right way to build a system, designing software architecture is still a mix of art and science. The “art” aspect of software architecture is because a commercial software system supports some aspect of a business or a mission. How a system supports key business drivers is described via scenarios as non-functional requirements of a system, also known as quality attributes, determine how a system will behave.

Every system is or was unique due to the nature of the business drivers it supports, as such the degree of quality attributes exhibited by a system such as fault-tolerance, backward compatibility, extensibility, reliability, maintainability, availability, security, usability, and such other –ilities will vary with each implementation.

To bring a software architecture user's perspective into the software architecture, it can be said that software architecture gives the direction to take steps and do the tasks involved in each such user's speciality area and interest e.g. the stakeholders of software systems, the software developer, the software system operational support group, the software maintenance specialists, the deployer, the tester and also the business end user In this sense software architecture is really the amalgamation of the multiple perspectives a system always embodies. The fact that those several different perspectives can be put together into a software architecture stands as the vindication of the need and justification of creation of software architecture before the software development in a project attains maturity.

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