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Modular software architecture

Modular software architecture definition

Modular architecture is a design approach. It structures a system as a collection of interchangeable modules. Each one handles a specific task and can work independently. This makes it easier to understand, change, and maintain the system.

See also: extensibility, dynamic library

Benefits of modular architecture:

  • Flexibility. Modular systems are more adaptable to change. Since each module is independent, developers can change one without impacting others.
  • Better risk management. The failures and bugs are contained within a single module. This means less risk to the entire system.
  • Cost efficiency. Reusing modules reduces development time and costs. Easier maintenance lowers long-term operational costs.

History of modular software architecture:

  • Early Days of Computing (1950s – 1960s). Software systems were built as single, indivisible units. This approach was practical for the relatively simple and small-scale programs of the time.
  • Structured Programming (1970s). This approach emphasized breaking down programs into smaller, manageable units of code to improve readability and maintainability. This was the beginning of modular thinking in software design.
  • Object-Oriented Programming (1980s). OOP languages like C++ and later Java encouraged organizing software as a collection of objects. Each encapsulating data and behavior.
  • Component-Based Software Engineering (1990s). Software began to be assembled using pre-made, interchangeable parts.
  • Service-Oriented Architecture (2000s). Applications were designed as sets of services that worked together but were loosely connected. These services could be used in different parts of a system or in completely different systems.
  • Microservices Architecture (2010s – Present). An extension of SOA, microservices architecture develops applications as small, separate services. This fits well with cloud computing and helps build flexible, scalable systems.
  • Current Trends and Future Outlook. Modular design is a key part of software development, especially for big, complex systems. It goes hand-in-hand with modern practices like Agile, DevOps, and continuous delivery. In the future, this approach is likely to keep evolving with new technology like cloud computing and distributed systems.