App Architecture Book Details
Title: App Architecture
Author: By Chris Eidhof, Matt Gallagher, and Florian Kugler
Subject: Swift / Computers & Technology / Programming / Apple Programming
No. of pages: 226
Format: PDF, EPUB, MOBILE, Source code
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Introduction App Architecture Book
Application architecture is a branch of software design concerned with the structure of an application. More specifically, it looks at both how applications are divided into different interfaces and conceptual layers, and the control flow and data flow paths taken by different operations between and within these different components.
We often use simple block diagrams to explain an application’s architecture. For example, Apple’s Model-View-Controller (MVC) pattern describes three layers: the model, the view, and the controller layer.
The blocks in the above diagram show the different named layers of the pattern — the majority of the code written in an MVC project fits into one of these layers. The arrows show how the layers are connected.
However, a simple block diagram explains very little about how the pattern is expected to operate in practice. This is because an application architecture includes many expectations about how components should be constructed, how events flow through the layers, whether components should have compile-time or runtime references to each other, how data in different components should be read or mutated, and what paths state changes should take through the application structure.
Model and View in
At the highest level, an application architecture is a basic set of categories into which different application components are separated. In this App Architecture book, we call these different
categories layers: a collection of interfaces and other code that conform to some basic rules and responsibilities.
The most common of these categories are the model layer and the view layer.
The model layer is an abstract description of the application’s contents without any dependence on the application framework (such as UIKit). Therefore, it offers full control to the programmer. The model layer typically contains both model objects (examples in the Recordings app include folders and recordings) and coordinating objects (for example, objects that persist data on disk, such as the Store in our example application). The part of the model that’s persisted to disk is called the document model.
The view layer is the application framework-dependent part that makes the model layer visible and user interactable, turning the model layer into an application. When writing iOS applications, the view layer almost always uses UIKit directly. However, as we will see, some architectures have a different view layer that wraps around UIKit. And for some custom applications, most notably games, the view layer might not be UIKit or AppKit; it could be SceneKit or a wrapper around OpenGL.
Sometimes, model or view instances are represented by structs or enums rather than objects. The difference is important in practice, but when we talk about objects, structs, and enums in the model layer, we’ll call all three of them model objects — likewise for view objects, which might manifest as objects, structs, or enums as well.
View objects typically form a single view hierarchy, in which all objects are connected in a tree structure with the screen at the trunk, windows within the screen, and increasingly smaller views at the branches and leaves. Likewise, view controllers typically form a view controller hierarchy. Meanwhile, model objects don’t necessarily form a hierarchy — there could be models in the program with no connection between them.
When we write view, we usually mean a single view object, such as a button or a label. When we write model, we usually mean a single model object, such as a Recording or Folder instance. In most literature on the subject, “the model” means different things depending on the context. It could mean the model layer, the concrete objects that are in the model layer, the document model, or a discrete document within the model layer. At the cost of verbosity, we try in this App Architecture book to be explicit about the different meanings.
Why Are the Categories of Model and View Considered So Fundamental?
It is certainly possible to write an application where there’s no separation between the model and view layers. As an example, in a simple modal dialog, there is often no separate model data. Instead, we read the state directly from user interface elements when the “OK” button is tapped. In general though, without a separated model layer, it’s difficult to ensure that actions in a program occur according to any coherent rules.
The most important reason to define a model layer is to have a single source of truth in our program that is clean and well behaved and not governed by the implementation details of the application framework.
An application framework provides infrastructure upon which we can build applications. In this App Architecture book we use Cocoa — more specifically, UIKit, AppKit, or WatchKit, depending on the target platform — as the application framework.
If the model layer is kept separate from the application framework, we can use it completely outside the bounds of the application. We can easily run it in a separate testing harness, or we can write a new view layer using a different application framework and use our model layer in the Android, macOS, or Windows version of the application.