651.288.7000 info@intertech.com

Software Design

Principles of Good Software Design
— Intertech, Inc. —
Software design is the most important phase of the software development cycle. Thinking about how to structure code before you start writing it is critical. Changes and updates will inevitably arise. Good software design plans and makes allowances for added features, algorithm changes, and new integrations.
By planning, you’ll save valuable time, headache, and cost on maintenance, upkeep, and extension of the original software. Designing software is an exercise in problem-solving. It requires you to break a task down into its parts, decide how you’ll address each section and how all the components will assemble to produce the desired functionality.

Good Design

Good design relies on a combination of high-level systems thinking and low-level component knowledge. In modern software design, best practice revolves around creating modular components that you can call and deploy as needed. In doing this, you build software that is reusable, extensible, and easy to test. But before you can create these components, you need to consider what functionality users (or other software) will need out of the software you’re creating. This is the point where proper planning shines.

Flow Charts

& User Experience Stories

Software generally falls into three categories: user-centered, semi-automated, or completely automated.

User-centered software includes an interface where users will interact with the software to produce the desired results. In cases where you’re creating user-centered software, you’ll want to consider user experience as the first step in your software design process. Understanding how users will interact with the software will help you determine what functionality to build and how it should connect with the interface and the user’s inputs. Typically, user-centered design involves storyboarding the reasons a user uses your software and how they’d expect to interact with the software.

On the other end of the spectrum, completely automated software has no user or interface. It’s software that talks to other software. You won’t need a storyboard in these cases, but you’ll want to map all the components out in a flow chart to organize the various components. Sequence diagrams are also a helpful way of documenting the various communications between systems.

A semi-autonomous piece of software sits in-between. You’ll need to consider both the user’s interaction with the software and the autonomous processes that are happening as you architect a solution.

 

Requirements

Always Change

One of the reasons good software design is so important is that the demands on software are always changing. As a result, requirements constantly change as well. Sometimes a client needs new features. Other times you may want to change the libraries or tools you use to accomplish a given task. In fact, in the agile world, we commit to delivering a small set of features and functionality in our given iteration, and we allow requirements to change if those changes do not interfere with our current sprint commitment. Ultimately, over time, all software becomes legacy and needs updates to keep up with new business needs or technology best practices.

The challenge about designing software from the beginning of a project is the future needs may not be clear at the outset. Software design best practices anticipate a variety of future needs. It implements best practices from the beginning, instead of hacking together a solution every time a new problem arises.

 

Separation of Concerns:

Modularity is Your Friend

The foundation of good software design is a separation of concerns. This means that you divide your software into component parts and build each part once. Avoid code repetition. Always place code that you’re likely to use again in a utility class and make it accessible throughout the application. When you need to update that code in the future, you only need to edit it in one place, instead of searching for the various locations where you repeated the code.

When you need a given component, you can call it and use it in an abstraction layer. This separation is called modularity, and it’s a key to scalable, maintainable software architecture.

Modularity has several key benefits:

 

Testing & Debugging

Since each component is self-contained, you mitigate dependency issues. It becomes easy to test each component in isolation by using a mocking or isolation framework.. This helps us track down bugs and other problems more quickly. It also allows you to divide work among developers, since each component stands on its own.

 

Reusability

Another benefit of modularity is reusing the code becomes easy. If you discover you need the same functionality in a new project, you can package the existing functionality into something reusable by multiple projects without copying and pasting the code. This can be accomplished with a web service or a nuget package for example.

 

Extensibility

Your software now runs as a set of independent components connected by an abstraction layer. This means adding new capabilities is as easy as creating a new component and linking it to the abstraction layer. Incorporating new features is trivial if you’ve architected the application well.

Abstract the Interface from the Algorithms

If each component runs in a modular container, you’ll need an overarching abstraction layer. The abstraction layer is where the user will interact. Based on the user’s inputs, the abstraction layer will decide which components are needed to fulfill the task. In simple terms, the code that does the work should be separate from the code that serves the features to the user.

We use this approach so that a change in one place won’t necessarily break other parts. Your abstract layer is not likely to change as often as your low-level modules. They’ll get updated, added to, and revised much more frequently. Since they’re contained, a mistake in an update won’t necessarily break the whole application, just the one module. Each module knows about the other modules in the application and what they do. However, it doesn’t know how the other modules do their work.

 

Simplicity

The Goal

The goal of software design is simplicity. Each class, method, and module in your code should have a single purpose. Every new task should get its own module that we can use and modify independently. By giving each module a task, you minimize regressions and makes the code easier to use.

Embrace simplicity, don’t add complexity where a simpler solution will work. Often, it’s tempting to think you have a brilliant solution, but if there’s a simpler way to accomplish the same task, you should always choose the simpler solution.

 

Conclusion

Know How To Properly Handle RxJS Errors In Your Angular Application

Learning to design software is certainly gets more complex than the simple rules laid out in this article. However, these fundamentals will apply across all projects, big or small. If you’re just starting your journey as a developer, you should expect these design principles to pop up in your code reviews. Even senior developers working on complex projects can often use a reminder on the principles of software design.

If you would like to learn more about Agile Design Principles, click on our free eBook below to download. The eBook covers these topics:

  • Liskov Substitution Principle with C# Examples
  • The Open-Closed Principle with C# Examples
  • The Interface Segregation Principle with C# Examples
  • The Single Responsibility Principle with C# Examples
  • The Dependency Inversion Principle with C# Examples
GET TO KNOW US

Tim Star

Consultant

Tim Star is a senior developer at Intertech and author of several blog posts on topics ranging from Agile to Azure.

 

“Whether you need help implementing Agile or need to boost your capabilities with a team of software developers that have proven expertise in design and development, no matter the technology, our proven consulting services can help you succeed the first time.”

 

Consulting Services

Consider introducing Intertech’s experience into your project and you will realize a higher degree of success around project goals, deliverables, timelines, and budgets.

Training Services

Consider Intertech for your companies training needs! A primary provider of training for fortune 5 to 5000 companies, Intertech brings a (1) proven resource that (2) knows how to plug into your system in a way that (3) accents your internal university system and makes you look great.

Custom Application Development For Line-of-Business Needs

 

Understanding your industry is one thing. Understanding the technology you are currently using and being able to look to the future and suggest the best pathway forward is another. Add the unique benefit of being tied to a training division that keeps everyone on your team up-to-date, and you get a blend of exceptional knowledge that plugs in, does what you need, and leaves your business stronger.

When you read studies that tell you that 75% of projects are doomed from the beginning, it has to make you wonder if you have the right team in place. Consider letting our proven professionals take a look at your project. They’ve seen what can go wrong and know how to avoid the costly errors. At Intertech we ask the right questions and we tell you the right answers. From design to rollout, Intertech takes the worry out of custom software development. 

We Bring You…

Team-Complete™ Development

Intertech’s Team-Complete™ development means senior consultants dive deep into your project. From analyzing your objectives and your CIO’s vision for the future to choosing the correct pathway for your company and customers, we make sure all the right people are seated at the table to assure success.

Balanced-Cost Account Management

Intertech specializes in top-tier developers, but not everyone on a project needs to be a lead consultant. That’s where Intertech’s Momentum-Based Budgeting comes in. Providing a balanced approach, Intertech always offers you a completely integrated solution that meets the requirements and leaves your team stronger.

Soft-Skills For A Winning Experience

Sometimes the most critical person in the room is the one with a calm voice and the right words. Bringing a development team together or presenting a difficult concept for stakeholders to understand can make all the difference in success or failure. Intertech consultants are at the top of their field. They navigate challenging decisions, guide with a confident voice, and know when to get out of the way.

Tell us how we can help!

Intertech takes the worry out of custom software development.

More Information To Consider

JAVA POST

Cloud graphic image 1

Why Companies Prefer Kotlin Over Java for New Projects.

JAVA POST

Cloud graphic image 2

Why Java’s Spring Framework Continues to Be So Popular.

We Bring Our Insights To Your Project!

We would like to hear from you.