The number of mobile apps is continuously on the rise. In the third quarter of 2018, both Google Play Store and Apple App Store had over 2 million apps available for download.
Hold on though!
Don’t let these stats deter your ambition of developing an app. Just because other apps have bowed out doesn’t mean your app will too.
If you dedicate yourself to your app, even it can make to the top charts.
Mobile App Architecture
Technically, mobile app architecture is a set of technologies and models required for the development of fully structured mobile applications based on industry and vendor-specific standards.
Stating the same in layman terms, “App architecture is the backbone of any mobile app.”
“We already know that!” Is that what you’re saying? If you are, then why’s your app still lurking at the bottom?
The reason is simple. You know the importance of mobile app architecture; you don’t understand it.
But don’t worry. That’s what we’re here to do today. In this article, we’ll show you how designing the right architecture can make your app development process efficient.
These are things we’ll go over today:
- Things to consider while designing app architecture
- Type of App
- Operating Devices
- Internet connectivity
- User Interface
- Navigation Methods
- Real-time Updates or Push Notifications
- Layers of A Mobile App Architecture
- Presentation Layer
- Business Layer
- Data Layer
Before we dive into the technicalities of mobile app architecture, let’s go through some of the basic things you need to consider while designing the app architecture.
1. Type of App
Native apps are the ones developed specifically for a target platform (generally Android or iOS). They use tools which are specific to the platform. It allows the apps to make full use of the device-specific features.
- Great performance and user engagement
- Utilize the advantages of using native features
- Good Integrated Development Environment
- Modern high-level languages
- Low-level approach with NDK
- Two code bases to maintain
- Requires installation
- Hard to analyze SEO
- Expensive to get users to download the app
Hybrid apps are mostly the web apps which you can ship to official app stores. They are developed using standard web technologies and then packaged into a native app. Once wrapped, you can download the in a device, and they function like a native app.
- Highly shareable across platforms
- Access to native features
- Performance issues and memory consumption
- Need to mimic native components on top of a single web view
- Take a long time to have native features available
- Harder to get accepted and published in app stores
The cross-platform apps are developed using a conventional programming language across all the target platforms. The UI still needs to be developed separately for each target platforms. But, some code duplication can be avoided using common business logic.
- Reach both platforms with a single code base
- Deal with native components
- Delayed support for latest platform updates
- Code not shareable with web development
- Need to provide own widgets with the code
How to decide which app is the best for you?
The decision largely depends on the intended use of your app.
Does your app fall into the consumer apps category? If yes, you should most probably opt for native apps. Since consumer apps tend to have rich User Interface and graphics, native apps serve their need the best.
If you’re developing an enterprise app, you may go ahead to developing a hybrid app. Enterprise apps usually don’t need much animations and graphics. So, they can maintain their high performance as a hybrid app too.
The cross-platform apps, on the other hand, will have all the advantages of a platform specific app. Along with that, they also have the added benefit of requiring just a single skill set to develop them.
The type of app you choose to develop will decide the kind of run-time architecture your app needs.
2. User Devices
The features that you include in your mobile application have some specific software and hardware requirements. If the end-user devices don’t fulfill the requirements, your app might lose particular functionalities.
So, before you set to build your architecture, you need a thorough knowledge of the devices your app will run.
Things a developer needs to know:
- Screen resolution
- Screen size
- CPU features
- Storage space
- Availability of development framework
3. Internet connectivity
Remember, all users are not the same. Every user does not have access to high-speed internet connectivity. Some may be in areas with intermediate connections, or some might not even have internet connectivity.
But, your app needs to cater to the need of all the users, right? And so, it is always a good practice to design your app architecture keeping the worst possible situations in mind.
Data caching, access mechanisms, and state management are some essential design features which should be designed keeping the connectivity in mind.
4. User Interface
While developing the mobile app architecture, the best practice is to keep the user interface as simple as possible. A bad or too complicated UI can be the primary reason for your app’s failure. For designing an interactive UI/UX, you should focus on Finding App Developers from a reputed firm.
5. Navigation Methods
It concerns both the front-end and back-end navigation of your app.
There are various navigation methods you can choose from:
- Hamburger menu. Navigation options are behind the left edge of the screen.
- Tab bar. Provides direct access to all the destinations that are of similar importance.
- Priority pattern. It exposes only the most essential navigation elements, with the others hidden behind a ‘more’ button.
- Floating action button. Floats above the interface of the app, may change color upon focus and open upon selection.
- Full-screen navigation. It devotes the homepage exclusively to navigation.
- Gesture-based navigation. Provides an easy and intuitive way to navigate across options.
- Innovative navigation patterns. They may options like include one-handed navigation or a bottom navigation interface.
Always keep in mind the preferences and needs of your app while deciding on the navigation method.
Real-time Updates or Push Notifications
Before starting to build your app architecture, ask yourself: will users need real-time updates or push notifications will do?
It will decide the kind of architecture your app would need.
The real-time updates are interactive, but consume a lot of battery. They are also much difficult to build when compared to push notifications.
Now that you have finalized on all the requirements, it’s now time to build your mobile app architecture.
App architecture design is by no means a start-stop thing. It is a process which you need to execute in a positive flow. The architecture of a mobile app is made up of layers which you need to understand and design.
How well you’ve designed the layers determines the efficiency of your app’s architecture.
1. Presentation Layer
It contains the components that implement and display the user interface along with managing the user interaction. The presentation layer views and controls a user’s interaction with the app.
Components of the presentation layer:
- UI components. They are the means through which a user interacts with the application.
Essential tasks: Render and format data for users; acquire and validate data input by users.
- User process components. All the user interactions are synchronized and orchestrated by the user process components.
The presentation layer decides the way a mobile app will present itself in front of the users. While designing the presentation layer, it is essential to determine the features of your app and their locations.
The design approach for presentation layer:
Identify your client type. Choose the client type based on the network connectivity you expect from the users.
Determine how you will present the data. Choose the data format and decide on the structure of your UI.
Determine your data-validation strategy. Determine which data validation techniques you will use to protect the data from untrusted sources.
Determine your business logic strategy. List out your business logic and separate it from the code of your presentation layer.
Determine your strategy for communication with the other layers. Your application is bound to have multiple layers. So, you need to determine how the presentation layer will communicate with the different layers.
2. Business Layer
The business layer represents the way a business will present itself in front of the end users.
Components of the business layer:
- Business Components. They process business rules and interact with data access components.
- Business entities. They are mostly the business components which are used to transfer data between other components.
- Business workflows. Most business processes involve some steps which you need to follow in their specific order. Business workflows define and coordinate such long multi-step business processes.
- Application facade. It combines multiple business operations into a single message-based operation. It can be accessed through the presentation layer using the navigation patterns.
The design approach for the business layer:
Create the overall design of your business layer.
- Determine who the app’s customers will be.
- Determine how you will present the business layer to them.
- Determine the security and validation requirements.
- Determine the data caching means.
Design your business components.
- Identify the business components required.
- Determine their location and interactions.
- Decide how to handle the rules.
- Select the patterns that fit your requirements.
Design your business entity components.
- Identify the data format that suits you the best.
- Finalize the design of your custom objects.
Design your workflow components.
- Identify the workflow.
- Determine the rules to handle it.
- Choose workflow solutions.
- Determine and design the business components required for the workflow.
3. Data Layer
Data layer components:
- Data access logic components. They abstract the logic necessary to obtain your data stores. They not only centralize the data access functionality but also make the app easier to configure and maintain.
- Data helpers/utilities. It consits of specialized libraries and custom routines. They are designed to reduce the development requirement of logic components and maximize the data access performance. They assist in: data manipulation, data transformation, data access within the layer.
- Service agents. If your business components use the functionality exposed to external services, then you need a separate code to communicate with those services. The service agents map the format of the data presented by such services and the size of your application.
The design approach for the data layer:
Create an overall design of your data access layer.
- Identify data source requirements.
- Decide on how you will map the data structures to data sources.
- Determine how your app would connect to those data sources.
- Finalize the strategies required to handle data source errors if any.
Design data access components.
- List out the data sources your app will access.
- Construct a method to access each of those data sources.
- Decide whether helper components are needed or not.
Design data helpers components.
- Research the existing helper libraries.
- You should design custom helper components for common problems.
- Implement routines for data access monitoring and testing.
Design service agents.
- Add a service reference.
- Decide on how you will use the services in your application.
You now have a basic overview of all the things you need to develop a mobile app architecture. You must already be excited to get your fingers typing. And, that’s what we want too.
But before that, go through the following guidelines which will aid you in the designing process.
Mobile App Architecture Best Practices
App architecture is the backbone of any mobile app. It should be designed to promote usability and minimize the costs and maintenance requirements.
For an efficient app development process, it is advisable that you follow these fundamental design principles:
- Separation of concerns. Your shuld divide your into distinct features with minimal overlap of functionalities.
- Single responsibility principle. Design components that are responsible for only a specific function.
- The principle of least knowledge. No component in your architecture should know the internal details of other parts.
- Don’t repeat yourself. Follow one component per functionality principle. Avoid adding the same functionality in multiple segments.
- Avoid that ‘big’ thing upfront. Application requirements change over time. And with that, the design varies too. Try and avoid that huge design effort right at the start.
- Prefer composition over inheritance. Inheritance limits the child classes. It increases the dependency between parent and child classes. So, you should always prefer composition over inheritance.
Be it consumer segment or the enterprise one; the mobile app market is continually growing. And there’s absolutely no reason why you shouldn’t get your hands dirty.
Any Custom Mobile App Development company shouldn’t forget the importance of architecture during your app development process. More so now that you know all the things associated with it.
Go on then; it’s time to type some codes!
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