The world has moved to the Internet, and web applications have become new workplaces and retail stores. To meet the variety of purposes that today’s web applications serve, each must be designed for high performance and customization. Web application architecture solves this problem.
What is Web Application Architecture?
Web application architecture is a concept that dates back to the beginning of the Internet era and refers to planning based on models, patterns, and theoretical abstractions when creating applications of a certain complexity and as a preliminary step to any implementation. So we have a detailed theoretical guide that allows us to understand how each part of our product or service will fit together.
Therefore, in architecture, we call patterns to any general and reusable solution to recurring problems in web app engineering in a given context, they are similar to patterns used in programming, but focused specifically on a structure at a higher and more general level.
The importance of web app architecture
The architecture allows us to a priori plan our development and chooses the best set of tools to implement our projects, even in mobile development, so it is a critical step before even moving to the program, as it will largely determine the pace of development and even the economic and human factors during the process. Therefore, when choosing an architecture pattern, it is always necessary to think about a number of questions that determine the end users that we are going to give to our web apps:
How much are we willing to invest in the development and maintenance of our system? As we have seen, there are certainly more complex models that require more infrastructure and whose development can be more irregular, so we need to know how much we are willing to invest in the development of our application in the first place.
Similarly, and closely related to the above, we need to ask ourselves how much time we have to develop the product, and how close the delivery or market release date will be.
A number of users
Undoubtedly, one of the most important points in product development is the question of what type of product it is and how many users it supports. Is it autonomous? Should it support high workloads by design, these questions can lead us to choose more or less distributed patterns, moving for example from less distributed ones like layers to more common ones or brokers.
Another important factor to consider is whether our product works in isolation from the rest of the user’s products, or whether it should be integrated or allowed for third-party integration. Some architectures, such as layers, are more closed and can complicate these integrations if we choose them over others.
Web application architecture patterns
The client-server pattern is widely used, especially in the design of websites and online services, and is based on the concept of a server (which provides a service) and a number of clients that query and receive responses from the server.
This pattern divides the structure of the application into a number of layers representing a subtask, each of which belongs to a different level of abstraction. Each layer is designed to provide a service to the next higher layer. The following layers are usually used:
This template consists of two groups, the first is called the master group, and the second is called the subordinate group. Subordinates perform the task proposed by the master, calculate the results and send them back to him, who presents, stores or processes them. This is done in order to have the party that authorizes and directs the necessary calculations, and the other parties that process it, agnostic to those decisions.
Model-View-Controller (MVC) pattern
This famous web application architecture pattern, also known as the MVC pattern, divides an interactive application into three separate parts:
- Model: It contains basic functionality and data.
- View: It shows information to the user, it is always possible to define one or more views for the same application.
- Controller: Handles user input. This is done to separate the internal representations of information from the ways in which the user’s information is presented and received. This separates components and allows for efficient code reuse.
This pattern is very popular in the development of web applications, both in the case of back-end and front-end, being the base pattern of many famous frameworks such as Angular and in some languages such as Java with the framework Spring.
This regularity is used to structure distributed systems with disconnected components. These components can interact with each other, calling remote services in such a way as to advertise their capabilities, request a service, and a component called a broker coordinates the communication between the components. Therefore, you can see its similarity with the master-slave pattern.
Web app architecture is a critical planning step at companies like Digiteum when starting any project for any app, as it provides us with a clear road map for further development, giving us instructions on what components will be part of our product, how they will be distributed and how they will communicate with each other.
With all of the above, the choice of one of the above patterns over any other will be decisive when, as we saw in the first chapter, the determination of the development time, the cost of the system, and the ability to satisfy user requests, as well as the cost of changing the pattern during the development itself (if possible) may be so expensive that the product may become unviable.
A good web app analyst will spend considerable time conducting customer interviews, assessing the availability of resources, both physical and human, of your team and the estimated development time you can afford for such a product. Investing this time, which in the layman’s opinion may be unnecessary and extremely slow, will speed up development and avoid future problems that will be difficult to solve if you start with a basic mistake.