what is software architecture in software engineering

Now that we've gotten through these definitions, there are many unanswered questions. According to the Intension/Locality Hypothesis,[40] the distinction between architectural and detailed design is defined by the Locality Criterion,[40] according to which a statement about software design is non-local (architectural) if and only if a program that satisfies it can be expanded into a program that does not. [41] Requirements engineering entails the elicitation, negotiation, specification, validation, documentation and management of requirements. There is usually considerable value in documenting the architecture. Here are the three main reasons why a good software architecture is so important when it comes to development. Architecture Tradeoff Analysis Method (ATAM), Distributed Relational Database Architecture, "Foundations for the study of software architecture", "How do you define Software Architecture? This information is relevant to many stakeholders, especially those who must maintain the system. Conversely, if an architecture is not documented, then it is difficult (if not impossible) to prove that it meets the stated requirements in terms of addressing qualities such as maintainability, accommodation of best practices, and so on. These are process-oriented architecture conformance, architecture evolution management, architecture design enforcement, architecture to implementation linkage, self-adaptation and architecture restoration techniques consisting of recovery, discovery, and reconciliation."[38]. During the 1990s there was a concerted effort to define and codify fundamental aspects of the discipline, with research work concentrating on architectural styles (patterns), architecture description languages, architecture documentation, and formal methods.[22]. Stakeholder concerns often translate into requirements on these quality attributes, which are variously called non-functional requirements, extra-functional requirements, behavioral requirements, or quality attribute requirements. Although there is no generally agreed definition of "architecture" in the industry, it is worth considering some other definitions so that similarities between them can be observed. 2000. It should not surprise you then that if you ask someone to describe the architecture of a software system he's working on, you'll probably be shown a diagram that shows the structural aspects of the system -- whether these aspects are architectural layers, components, or distribution nodes. This is accomplished through architectural design (also called system design), which acts as a preliminary ‘blueprint’ from which software can be developed. Unfortunately, there is no agreement in the industry on the meaning of each of these terms or their relationship to one another, which results in different meanings for the same term (homonyms) and two or more terms meaning the same thing (synonyms). For example, if performance is key, then a decision may be made to implement certain system elements in hardware, rather than software or people. Even in the field of software engineering, we often come across different forms of architecture. Terra, R., M.T. Learn More. Given the architecturally significant requirements determined by the analysis, the current state of the design and the results of any evaluation activities, the design is created and improved. For the purposes of this article, I use the definition of component from the UML 2.0 specification; and I use the term fairly loosely in order to encompass the variety of architectural elements that we may encounter, including objects, technology components (such as an Enterprise JavaBean), services, program modules, legacy systems, packaged applications, and so on. [19] The field of computer science had encountered problems associated with complexity since its formation. It is also worth noting that the set of significant elements is not static and may change over time. Flood Control Software Architecture Diagram Template [39] Practices exist to recover software architecture as static program analysis. A system exists to fulfill one or more missions in its environment. Both requirements engineering and software architecture revolve around stakeholder concerns, needs and wishes. You will also hear other terms, each of which defines a specific scope of the architecting activities. It is a higher level abstraction than software engineering. 5 [Architecture is] the organizational structure and associated behavior of a system. Software architecture exhibits the following: Multitude of stakeholders: software systems have to cater to a variety of stakeholders such as business managers, owners, users, and operators. The IEEE also promulgates a "Software Engineering Code of Ethics". Again, each of these elements can be provided in a variety of ways. The input or requirements to the analysis activity can come from any number of stakeholders and include items such as: The outputs of the analysis activity are those requirements that have a measurable impact on a software system's architecture, called architecturally significant requirements. For example, an architecture for an order processing system may have defined groupings of elements for order entry, account management, customer management, fulfillment, integrations with external systems, persistency, and security. The developer is concerned with clear requirements, and a simple and consistent design approach. Jackson Structured Programming) were driven by required functionality and the flow of data through the system, but the current insight[4]:26–28 is that the architecture of a software system is more closely related to its quality attributes such as fault-tolerance, backward compatibility, extensibility, reliability, maintainability, availability, security, usability, and other such –ilities. These scientists emphasized that the structure of a software system matters and getting the structure right is critical. An important aspect of an architecture is not just the end result, the architecture itself, but the rationale for why it is the way it is. Addison Wesley 2003. The business owner typically needs support from … The software architecture focuses on the role of software components. An architectural style defines: a family of systems in terms of a pattern of structural organization; a vocabulary of components and connectors, with constraints on how they can be combined. [IEEE 1471], A mission is a use or operation for which a system is intended by one or more stakeholders to meet some set of objectives. There are even Websites that maintain collections of definitions.1 The definition used in this article is that taken from IEEE Std 1472000, the IEEE Recommended Practice for Architectural Description of Software-Intensive Systems, referred to as IEEE 1471.2 This definition follows, with key characteristics bolded. Either the scope can be reduced in order to meet the schedule or all of the functionality can be provided within an extended timeframe. These questions, and others, will be answered in subsequent articles in this series. Software Architecture shows how the different modules of … For example, this information is used when the architecture is reviewed and the architect needs to justify the decisions that have been made. The OrderEntry instance then uses an instance of the AccountManagement class to create the order, populate the order with order items, and then place the order. The server … [IEEE 1471]. Bigonha, "Recommending Refactorings to Reverse Software Architecture Erosion", Software Architecture Guide. Software Architecture is concerned with issues beyond the data structures and algorithms used in the system. The OrderEntry class is shown as depending on the CustomerManagement class and also the AccountManagement class. Balancing these concerns and demonstrating that they are addressed is part of designing the system. Examples of architectural styles include a distributed style, a pipe-and-filter style, a data-centered style, a rule-based style, and so on. [IEEE 1471], The environment, or context, determines the setting and circumstances of developmental, operational, political, and other influences upon that system. 3 Object Management Group Inc., UML 2.0 Infrastructure Specification: Document number 03-09-15. There is no shortage of definitions when it comes to "architecture." Another example is that in order to provide a usable system to customers, a decision is made to provide a customer interface that is a human being, rather than an interface implemented in software or hardware. See the "Architecture defined" section below.]. Just to give you an idea of the task at hand, consider the following needs of a set of stakeholders: As we can see from this list, another challenge for the architect is that the stakeholders are not only concerned that the system provides the required functionality. What is the difference between an enterprise architecture and a system architecture? These "standard ways" are called by various names at various levels of abstraction. The environmental factors that influence the architecture include the business mission that the architecture will support, the system stakeholders, internal technical constraints (such as the requirement to conform to organizational standards), and external technical constraints (such as the need to interface to an external system or to conform to external regulatory standards). Each of these groupings may require different skill sets. Architecture is the fundamental organization of a system embodied in its components, their relationships to each other, and to the environment, and the principles guiding its design and evolution. Software is an essential element of the ubiquitous cell phone, as well as complex air traffic control systems. It was adopted in 2007 by ISO as ISO/IEC 42010:2007. The recommendation, therefore, is for you to select the terms relevant to your organization and define them appropriately. When it comes to software-intensive systems, there is a particular aspect of the environment that must always be considered, as discussed earlier in this chapter. An example of some structural elements is shown in Figure 1. If the architecture needs to be continually revised due to relatively minor changes, then this is not a good sign. Structure is indeed an essential characteristic of an architecture. Although the definitions are somewhat different, we can see a large degree of commonality. A framework is usually implemented in terms of one or more viewpoints or ADLs. Like a pattern, an architectural style represents a codification of experience, and it is good practice for architects to look for opportunities to reuse such experience. A software architecture helps to define and represent the component (s) and their relationship. 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. This reflects the relationship between software architecture, enterprise architecture and solution architecture. Software architecture description involves the principles and practices of modeling and representing architectures, using mechanisms such as architecture description languages, architecture viewpoints, and architecture frameworks. [4]:29–35, Opinions vary as to the scope of software architectures:[5], There is no sharp distinction between software architecture versus design and requirements engineering (see Related fields below). Unfortunately, there is no set of agreed-upon answers to these questions. The hardware aspect of the total solution cannot therefore be ignored. Some of the available software architecture evaluation techniques include Architecture Tradeoff Analysis Method (ATAM) and TARA. An architecture framework captures the "conventions, principles and practices for the description of architectures established within a specific domain of application and/or community of stakeholders" (ISO/IEC/IEEE 42010). An enterprise architecture, which is similar to a system architecture in that it, too, considers elements such as hardware, software, and people. It … Architecture recovery is often necessary to make informed decisions in the face of obsolete or out-of-date documentation and What they have in common is both patterns and styles are idioms for architects to use, they "provide a common language"[35] or "vocabulary"[33] with which to describe classes of systems. To understand what a software architect is, it can help to consider a traditional architect. Significant elements are those that have a long and lasting effect, such as the major structural elements, those elements associated with essential behavior, and those elements that address significant qualities such as reliability and scalability. The architecture is not an operational software. In essence, the environment determines the boundaries within which the system must operate, which then influence the architecture. Research institutions have played a prominent role in furthering software architecture as a discipline. The contents of this article have been derived from a forthcoming book, provisionally entitled "The Process of Software Architecting." Many special-purpose ADLs have been developed since the 1990s, including AADL (SAE standard), Wright (developed by Carnegie Mellon), Acme (developed by Carnegie Mellon), xADL (developed by UCI), Darwin (developed by Imperial College London), DAOP-ADL (developed by University of Málaga), SBC-ADL (developed by National Sun Yat-Sen University), and ByADL (University of L'Aquila, Italy). There is considerable overlap between requirements engineering and software architecture, as evidenced for example by a study into five industrial software architecture methods that concludes that "the inputs (goals, constraints, etc.) There are many activities that a software architect performs. [2] It functions as a blueprint for the system and the developing project, laying out the tasks necessary to be executed by the design teams.[3]. In general, the architecture is not concerned with the fine-grained details of these elements. This is a part of subjects covered by the software intelligence practice. Architectural patterns are often documented as software design patterns. 8 A role that will be covered in a subsequent article in this series. As one would expect, there are corresponding forms of architect (for example, software architect, hardware architect, and so on) and architecting (for example, software architecting, hardware architecting, and so on). 6 Object Management Group Inc., OMG Unified Modeling Language Specification Version 1.5, Document number 03-03-01. [McGovern]7. Various approaches have been proposed to address erosion. The viewpoint specifies not only the concerns framed (i.e., to be addressed) but the presentation, model kinds used, conventions used and any consistency (correspondence) rules to keep a view consistent with other views. [4]:5–6 This abstraction provides a number of benefits: The comparison between software design and (civil) architecture was first drawn in the late 1960s,[18] but the term "software architecture" did not see widespread usage until the 1990s. Figure 2 shows a UML sequence diagram showing a number of interactions that, together, allow the system to support the creation of an order in an order processing system. A number of methods have been developed to balance the trade-offs of up-front design and agility,[36] including the agile method DSDM which mandates a "Foundations" phase during which "just enough" architectural foundations are laid. Software architecture refers to the fundamental structures of a software system and the discipline of creating such structures and systems. However, there are many questions left unanswered. Not only does the creation of an architecture change the environment from a technology perspective -- it may, for example, contribute reusable assets to the owning organization -- the creation of the architecture may also change the environment in terms of the skills available within the organization. The software architecture of a program or computing system is the structure or structures of the system, which comprise software elements, the externally visible properties of those elements, and the relationships among them. What is the role of the software architect? These supporting activities take place throughout the core software architecture process. Such concerns nevertheless represent system qualities or constraints. Software components consist of a simple program module or an object oriented class in an architectural design. Requirements of the software should be transformed into an architecture that describes the software’s top-level structure and identifies its components. If not corrected, such violations can transform the architecture into a monolithic block, with adverse effects on understandability, maintainability, and evolvability. The term system encompasses individual applications, systems in the traditional sense, subsystems, systems of systems, product lines, product families, whole enterprises, and other aggregations of interest. This is a pitfall that is best avoided, since the result is typically a less-than-ideal architecture. IEEE Std 12207-1995. This is quite often in relation to a building or some other civil engineering structure, such as a bridge. In fact, many of the innovations that we now take for granted -- including organizations such as eBay or Amazon -- simply wouldn't exist if it weren't for software. The architect assumes the role of "keeper of the vision", making sure that additions to the system are in line with the architecture, hence preserving conceptual integrity. They include knowledge management and communication, design reasoning and decision making, and documentation. IEEE defines architectural design as “the process of defining a collection of hardware and software components and their interfaces to establish the framework for the development of a computer system.”. A good architecture is important, otherwise it becomes slower and … architecture erosion: implementation and maintenance decisions diverging from the envisioned architecture. This information is often valuable to the architect when he or she needs to revisit the rationale behind the decisions that were made, so that they don't end up having to unnecessarily retrace steps. An architecture is the set of significant decisions about the organization of a software system, the selection of structural elements and their interfaces by which the system is composed, together with their behavior as specified in the collaborations among those elements, the composition of these elements into progressively larger subsystems, and the architectural style that guides this organization -- these elements and their interfaces, their collaborations, and their composition. This architecture is the latest version of call-and-return architecture. Valente, K. Czarnecki, and R.S. Many definitions of architecture also acknowledge not only the structural elements themselves, but also the composition of structural elements, their relationships (and any connectors needed to support these relationships), their interfaces, and their partitioning. It is also worth noting that every system has an architecture, even if this architecture is not formally documented or if the system is extremely simple and, say, consists of a single element. It should be noted that Figure 2 is consistent with Figure 1 in that we can derive the dependencies shown in Figure 1 from the interactions defined in Figure 2. The project manager is concerned with predictability in the tracking of the project, schedule, productive use of resources, and budget. The Rational Edge, August 2003. http://public.dhe.ibm.com/software/dw/rationaledge/aug03/f_rupse_mc.pdf, static.content.url=http://www.ibm.com/developerworks/js/artrating/.

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