Mobile App Development

Types of Architecture for Mobile Applications

Types of Architecture for Mobile Applications

When preparing this material, I considered various aspects of the architecture types to determine the benefits and drawbacks of each one. Next, I dissected the modular architecture alternatives to add variety and depth to the discussion. Finally, I came up with the concluding remarks to make better sense of our findings and provide relevant recommendations. 

An ongoing conversation in the IT realm is the selection of architecture for developing mobile applications. Natural evolution has already contributed to the transition from the monolith approach towards micro-services. However, a modular approach has emerged as a superior alternative with its four underlying types, namely MVC, MVP, MVVM, and Viper mobile application development. 

A decision regarding the type of architecture commonly depends on the personal experience of developers. Here, I want to bring light to the differences between various types of architecture in general and modular architecture in particular as a promising alternative. 

Core Aspects of Architecture to Consider

Architecture provides a strong base for any project since it will affect its further development potential and reliability. Architecture serves as the initial base to the following project determining its structure, scalability, maintenance efficiency, and size. The reliability and longevity of the completed work determine its quality and the following upkeep efficiency. The monolith approach was the initial form of architecture. Essentially, such a system had a single deployment unit that implies a higher degree of dependence and complexity. 

Micro-services became a natural response by breaking down a single complex process into smaller components. However, over time, it became evident that maintaining the microservices approach is costly and requires excess resources. At this point, modular architecture stepped into the frame by becoming a transitional stage between the monolith approach and microservices.

Mobile app development continues to exist in a realm without clear guidance or universal rules. This state of things shaped partially because of the unique needs and requirements set out for each particular project. Thus, it is crucial to consider specific factors when developing apps for iOS and Android: 

  • Project type
  • Operating system
  • SDKs and toolset
  • Cloud technologies
  • Databases and server infrastructure
  • Data formatting
  • Scaling plans
  • 3-rd party services
  • Complexity of navigation
  • UI/UX
  • Content
  • Budget and time constraints
  • Team skill level

Characteristics of a Quality App Architecture

It is possible to list several specific qualities of well-developed app architecture, including:

Reliability – defining characteristics showing the interaction of the code parts with each other, eliminating instability and inconsistencies within the application.

Scalability – the flexibility of the architecture reflects its potential for growth and adjustment. It is natural to plan for changes and new features, as well as improvements in the form of new operating systems and libraries.

Separation of concerns – entities should remain separate within the code to ensure their repeated use, ease of debugging, as well as isolation of the frequently changing components without affecting the other ones in the system.

Testability – architecture should support testing of cases and functionalities separately to avoid any issues in runtime preventing long fixes. Additionally, QAs would gain the ability to test functionalities and write test cases individually. 

Maintenance efficiency – allows cost optimization by preventing overspending and excess resource allocation. 

Ease of use – contributes to the simplification of a code in terms of writing and reading. 

Key Modular Architecture Types

MVC, MVP, MVVM, and Viper are the main mobile app development types with a separate specific subtree of usage variations. It is possible to select a single type or a mix of two or more. Prior to making a choice, it is crucial to compare them in terms of specifics and particular application cases. 

MVC

The first type is MVC or model-view-controller ranking amongst the most commonly used ones in mobile application development. 

Specifics

MVC enables the creation of basic cross-platform applications with straightforward content, comprehensive navigation logic, uniform user experience, as well as standardized UI design. Task implementation commonly follows a pattern from loading to display without extra steps or stages in between.  

MVC

Applications

The reasons for using MVC commonly include the need to accelerate the development process and/or provide a direct simple flow. It is also viable in creating plain client/server applications and working with simple data. MVC is effective when obtaining unformatted data results, creating an SEO-friendly platform, and managing a unidirectional flow of instructions on a screen.

MVVM

MVVM or model-view-view-model ranks second in the frequency of its use based on its specifics and application capabilities. 

Specifics

The possibility to separate UI logic from business logic is the primary difference between MVVM from MVC. Such an alteration allows the implementation of more complex functional tasks and provides the additional choice of actions and interactions for the user with the mobile app. Auto-tests become available for implementation due to the separation of the tested business logic from the UI incorporation. 

MVVM

Applications

Developers commonly use MVVM for the higher-complexity applications with a more universal nature of the pattern. Therefore, MVVM is particularly effective for small projects expecting expansion in functionality shortly. 

MVP

The third type of modular architecture is MVP or model-view-presenter used in parallel with the MVC type. 

Specifics

Differences in data display and user interaction with the application determine the choice between MVVM and MVP. Models and views are the only available testing tools for the MVP type.

MVP

Applications

Developers use the MVP in case of the limited set of UI components and a simple navigation flow within the app.

VIPER

VIPER or View, Interactor, Presenter, Entity, and Router Model is a type of modular architecture or a pattern utilized for implementing long-term projects. The process of developing apps on this architecture requires longer launches because of its skewness towards the purely monolithic type. 

Specifics 

VIPER supports clean code ideas. It requires deep knowledge and understanding of the field of programming. This architecture pattern provides good test coverage, isolation of the new functionality implementation, and dependency of areas of responsibility. A project with this architecture requires 2 or more developers to build cross-platform mobile apps.

VIPER

Applications

Long-term projects with specific technical requirements benefit from using Viper.

Benefits of Modular Architecture

Modular architecture offers several underlying principles that transform into benefits for developers: 

Strong Encapsulation – ensures low coupling between different parts by hiding implementation details within components. The team gains the ability to work separately on decoupled system parts.

Explicit Dependencies – provides strong expression and verification of distinct components, allowing them to work together.

Well-defined interfaces – stable and well-defined APIs between components with the possibility to replace components with implementations 

Conclusion

Modular architecture provides a range of tools for developing mobile applications. Each of the four discussed modular architecture types, namely MVC, MVVM, MVP, and Viper, has the specifics and applications suitable for the respective circumstances. Smaller projects benefit from the MVC alternative since it offers simple content, UI, and navigation. MVVM and MVP are more suitable for larger projects. The difference between the two stems from the load on data display and UI. 

Viper is suitable for larger projects that are long-term in nature and the projects requiring the development of custom applications. Modular architecture offers a strong alternative to microservices by utilizing the monolith approach as a basis, but isolating parts to ensure independence and flexibility. 

Developers make a choice regarding architecture depending on specific circumstances after analyzing each project separately. Such a choice relies on the characteristics of each architecture type and subtype. A clear understanding of a project and the ability to project it onto the development process determines the type of architecture. 

Anton Malyy
Anton Malyy

Anton Malyy, CTO at TRIARE.net

For the last 8 years, his attention has been focused on building web and mobile applications. The main principle which he applies with all his projects is creating products that bring superb value to the clients. The core principle is not in producing the code, but making an impact on businesses with tools and services that TRIARE IT company provides.

Technologies: Ruby on Rails, PHP, JavaScript, React.JS, Angular, iOS, Android. 

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