10 Best Books on Software Architecture and Design in 2024

Carving clean software architecture from a treacherous mountain may seem impossible, but you might be able to achieve it when armed with a good textbook.


You know how to program.

You can get your code to work.

You got the job.

But now what? How do you get promoted? How do you write not just ‘functional’ code, but good code that is future-proof? You can find the answer to these questions in software architecture.

Software architecture is a blueprint for both the system and the project. It focuses on developing the skeleton and high-level infrastructure of software. Software design aims to help developers transform requirements into implementation. It addresses problems like the functions of individual modules, the scope of classes, the purposes of different functions, and the like.

In this article, we have put the spotlight on the best books for learning software architecture and design through a collection of book reviews. Each book review will highlight the taste of the book, the contents covered, and how it can benefit you. 


Why Learn Software Architecture And Design?

We’ve got a few reasons why you should learn software architecture and design. 

  • Helps prepare you for a promotion: As you advance in your software development career, you take more and more ownership of software architecture. Learning about software architecture is essential if you want to move up in your career.

  • Creates a solid foundation: Software architecture and design create a solid foundation for the software project to ensure that your project will be scalable and powerful.

  • Enables quicker changes: There is increased demand for systems to change quickly to meet rapidly evolving needs. Software architecture and design enable quicker changes in IT Systems.

  • Better code maintainability: It is easier to maintain existing software, as the structure of the code is visible and known, so it’s easier to find bugs and anomalies.

  • Additional income source: Upskilling yourself with software architecture and design can provide you with an additional source of income. You can freelance your software architecture and design services to individuals and build your portfolio and your confidence.


What Makes Best Software Architecture And Design Books? 

Here are our criteria for the selection of the books:

  • The book should contain a variety of instructional materials, including exercises, examples, questions, learning activities, and other features that promote the reader's engagement and active learning.

  • It uses clear, precise, and easy-to-understand language.

  • Content must be up-to-date and should thoroughly teach and explain the basic concepts of software architecture and design.

  • Contain assignments for practice and hands-on experience.

  • The book should have a clear layout and strictly focus on software architecture and design.


Best Books on Software Architecture And Design

Here are some of the best books on software architecture and design:


1. Best introductory book: Clean Architecture

It doesn’t take a huge amount of knowledge and skill to get a program working. […] Getting it right is another matter entirely.

Clean Architecture (2017), Robert C. Martin

Clean Architecture: A Craftsman’s Guide to Software Structure and Design (2017) came to me highly recommended by a staff software engineer at my job. When one is trying to advance in her career to senior or staff engineer, Clean Architecture inevitably makes its way onto the bookshelf.

The ‘Clean’ brand is hard to miss in the software world. Robert C. Martin, also known as “Uncle Bob,” pioneered the Clean Code movement in his book of the same name. I go into the teachings of Clean Code in this article covering the top 7 clean code principles.

Clean Architecture is written in a ‘clean’ and easy-to-understand style. It is not as heavy and textbook-style as other books on this list. Uncle Bob writes to you like a real person with real emotions at your programming job. He speaks directly to you, urging you to look at your own life experiences in the field and use them to dream up a better world with software architectural principles applied.

If you are going to select one book on software architecture and one book only, you may want to pick Clean Architecture. It is also not as expensive as other books — a win, for sure.


2. Best book for serious learners: Software Architecture in Practice

[W]e are building different kinds of systems, and building them in different ways than a decade ago. […] So, in this edition we have added chapters on virtualization, interfaces, mobility, and the cloud.

Software Architecture in Practice, Preface

Speaking of more textbook-style books, Software Architecture in Practice (2024) by Len Bass, Dr Paul Clements, and Rick Kazman is an academic and serious title compared to Clean Architecture. The book is in its fourth edition and thoroughly explains what software architecture is and why it's important. The book teaches how to design, instantiate, analyze, evolve, and manage software architecture in disciplined and effective ways.

I use ‘thorough’ to describe this book for a reason. It is a serious title for a serious learner who expects a heavily revised, reviewed, complete, and accurate authority on software architecture. The tradeoff? The tone is dry and dense. If you are a no-nonsense, give-me-the-information person, this book may be your best companion.

Through this book, you will learn how to use architecture to address accelerating growth in requirements, system size, and abstraction. The book teaches the readers to manage emergent quality attributes as systems are dynamically combined in new ways. After reading the book, you will be able to:

  • Discover how architecture influences (and is influenced by) technical environments, project lifecycles, business profiles, and your own practices

  • Leverage proven patterns, interfaces, and practices for optimizing quality through architecture

  • Architect for mobility, the cloud, machine learning, and quantum computing

  • Design for increasingly crucial attributes such as energy efficiency and safety

  • Scale systems by discovering architecturally significant influences, using DevOps and deployment pipelines, and managing architecture debt

  • Understand architecture's role in the organization, so you can deliver more value

  • A clear explanation of the Attribute-Driven Design method

The book is divided into 6 parts and 26 chapters. The contents covered in the book are: 

  • Part I covers the introduction of Software Architecture and why it is important

  • Part 2 covers Quality Attributes

  • Part 3 talks about the Architectural Solutions

  • Part 4 covers Scalable Architecture Practices

  • Part 5 covers the Architecture and the Organization

  • Part 6 concludes the book with a glimpse of the future: Quantum Computing

The new chapters in latest edition focuses on the technical environments and contexts of contemporary design. There are two new case studies on The Hotel Pricing System and Digital Twin Platform. The book gives methods to make architecture design agile and achievable.

The book is recommended for all the software engineers out there, both seasoned and beginners.


3. Best book for analytical learners: Software Architecture: The Hard Parts

Software Architecture: The Hard Parts by Neal Ford, Mark Richards, Pramod Sadalage, and Zhamak Dehghani help you to learn how to think critically about the trade-offs involved with distributed architectures.

The book provides techniques to help you discover and weigh the trade-offs as you confront the issues you face as an architect.

Here's what you will learn from the book:

  • Analyze trade-offs and effectively document your decisions

  • Make better decisions regarding service granularity

  • Understand the complexities of breaking apart monolithic applications

  • Manage and decouple contracts between services

  • Handle data in a highly distributed architecture

  • Learn patterns to manage workflow and transactions when breaking apart applications 

The book is divided into 15 chapters and includes the following contents:

  • Chapter 1 talks about what happens when there are no “Best Practices”?

Part I. Pulling Things Apart

  • Chapter 2 talks about Discerning Coupling in Software Architecture

  • Chapter 3 covers Architectural Modularity

  • Chapter 4 covers Architectural Decomposition

  • Chapter 5 covers Component-Based Decomposition Patterns

  • Chapter 6 talks about pulling apart Operational Data

  • Chapter 7 covers Service Granularity

Part II. Putting Things Back Together

  • Chapter 8 covers Reuse Patterns

  • Chapter 9 covers Data Ownership and Distributed Transactions

  • Chapter 10 covers Distributed Data Access

  • Chapter 11 talks about Managing Distributed Workflows

  • Chapter 12 covers Transactional Sagas

  • Chapter 13 covers Contracts

  • Chapter 14 talks about Managing Analytical Data

  • Chapter 15 talks about building your own trade-off analysis

The writing style and real-world examples make the book very easy to read. This book is very helpful in exploring the different aspects of design decisions when it comes to comparing different approaches and patterns and the trade-offs for each app.


4. Best book for engineers: Fundamentals of Software Architecture: An Engineering Approach

Fundamentals of Software Architecture: An Engineering Approach by Mark Richards and Neal Ford and Neal Ford is a great introduction to the topic of software architecture. It explores software architecture in a modern light, taking into account all the innovations of the past decade.

This book examines:

  • Architecture patterns: The technical basis for many architectural decisions

  • Components: Identification, coupling, cohesion, partitioning, and granularity

  • Soft skills: Effective team management, meetings, negotiation, presentations, and more

  • Modernity: Engineering practices and operational approaches that have changed radically in the past few years

  • Architecture as an engineering discipline: Repeatable results, metrics, and concrete valuations that add rigor to software architecture.

The book is divided into three parts and twenty-four chapters. The contents covered are: 

Part 1: Foundations

  • Architectural thinking 

  • Modularity 

  • Architecture characteristics defined 

  • Identifying architectural characteristics 

  • Measuring and governing architecture characteristics 

  • Scope of architecture characteristics 

  • Component-based thinking 

Part 2: Architecture styles

  • Foundations 

  • Layered architecture style 

  • Pipeline architecture style 

  • Microkernel architecture style 

  • Service-based architecture style 

  • Event-driven architecture style 

  • Space-based architecture style 

  • Orchestration-driven service-oriented architecture 

  • Microservices architecture 

  • Choosing the appropriate architecture style 

Part 3. Techniques and soft skills

  • Architecture decisions 

  • Analyzing architecture risk 

  • Diagramming and presenting architecture 

  • Making teams effective 

  • Negotiation and leadership skills 

  • Developing a career path

Overall, it's a great reference book covering many details about software architecture. The book is definitely worthy of your time!


5. Best book for hands-on learners: Designing Software Architectures: A Practical Approach

Designing Software Architectures: A Practical Approach by Humberto Cervantes and Rick Kazman teaches how to design any software architecture in a systematic, predictable, repeatable, and cost-effective way. You’ll learn how to successfully integrate design in your organizational context and how to design systems that will be built with agile methods.

The book takes a friendly, encouraging approach to explain design in architecture. After reading the book, you'll be able to:

  • Understand what architecture design involves, and where it fits in the full software development life cycle

  • Master core design concepts, principles, and processes

  • Understand how to perform the steps of the ADD method

  • Scale design and analysis up or down, including design for pre-sale processes or lightweight architecture reviews

  • Recognize and optimize critical relationships between analysis and design

  • Utilize proven, reusable design primitives and adapt them to specific problems and contexts

  • Solve design problems in new domains, such as cloud, mobile, or big data

The book gives useful examples on how to apply structural thinking to tasks that a software architect usually faces.


6. Best book for completionists: Software Architect's Handbook

Software Architect's Handbook by Joseph Ingeno is a comprehensive guide to explore software architecture concepts and implement best practices. This book takes you through all the important concepts, right from design principles to different considerations at various stages of your career in software architecture.

Here's what you'll learn from the book:

  • Design software architectures using patterns and best practices

  • Explore the different considerations for designing software architecture

  • Discover what it takes to continuously improve as a software architect

  • Create loosely coupled systems that can support change

  • Understand DevOps and how it affects software architecture

  • Integrate, refactor, and re-architect legacy applications

The contents covered in the book are:

  • The Meaning of Software Architecture

  • Software Architecture in an Organization

  • Understanding The Domain

  • Software Quality Attributes

  • Software Architecture Design

  • Patterns and Best Practices of Software Development

  • Software Architecture Patterns

  • Architecting Modern Applications

  • Crosscutting Concerns

  • Performance Considerations

  • Security Considerations

  • Documenting and Validating Software Architecture

  • DevOps and Software Architecture

  • Architecting Legacy Applications

  • The Soft Skills of Software Architecture

  • Evolutionary Architecture

  • Becoming a Better Software Architect

The book enhances your skills to grow your career as a software architect.


7. Best book for experienced C++ developers: Software Architecture with C++

Software Architecture with C++ by Adrian Ostrowski guides you to design modern systems using effective architecture concepts, design patterns, and techniques with C++. 

After reading the book, you'll be able to:

  • Understand how to apply the principles of software architecture

  • Apply design patterns and best practices to meet your architectural goals

  • Write elegant, safe, and performant code using the latest C++ features

  • Build applications that are easy to maintain and deploy

  • Explore the different architectural approaches and learn to apply them as per your requirement

  • Simplify development and operations using application containers

  • Discover various techniques to solve common problems in software design and development

The book is divided into four sections and fifteen chapters. The contents covered are:

  • Section 1 covers concepts and components of Software Architecture

  • Section 2 talks about the Design and Development of C++ Software

  • Section 3 covers Architectural Quality Attributes

  • Section 4 talks about Cloud-Native Design Principles

The book will help you put your knowledge to work and design distributed large-scale apps. By the end of this book, you'll be able to build distributed services using modern C++ and associated tools.


8. Best Book for Absolute Beginners: Head First Software Architecture

Head First Software Architecture by Raju Gandhi, Mark Richards, and Neal Ford teaches you how to think architecturally and explores the unique challenges of software architecture. You'll learn the distinction between architecture and design and the relationship between code, components, and architectural styles. You'll also learn how to work with some common architectural styles through vivid, fun examples.

The book is quick, easy to understand, and entertaining. It uses a visually rich format to engage your mind, rather than a text-heavy approach that puts you to sleep. It is a valuable introduction to the world of software architecture.

The book is divided into ten chapters and includes the following topics:

  • Chapter 1 gives the introduction of Software Architecture

  • Chapter 2 covers Architectural Characteristics

  • Chapter 3 covers the Two Laws of Software Architecture

  • Chapter 4 covers the logical components

  • Chapter 5 covers the Architectural Styles

  • Chapter 6 talks about Layered Architecture

  • Chapter 7 talks about Modular Monoliths

  • Chapter 8 covers Microkernel Architecture and crafting Customizations

  • Chapter 9 guides you to make a travel app

  • Chapter 10 talks about Microservices Architecture

If you're a software developer looking for a quick on-ramp to software architecture, this handy guide is a great place to start.


9. Best Book for Java Software Engineers: Hands-On Software Architecture with Java

Hands-On Software Architecture with Java by Giuseppe Bonocore teaches key architectural techniques and strategies to design efficient and elegant Java applications. The book helps you make smart architectural decisions with comprehensive coverage of various architectural approaches from SOA to microservices. You’ll gain an in-depth understanding of deployment considerations with cloud and CI/CD pipelines.

This book starts with the fundamentals of architecture and takes you through the basic components of application architecture. You'll cover the different types of software architectural patterns and application integration patterns and learn about their most widespread implementation in Java. You'll then explore cloud-native architectures and best practices for enhancing existing applications to better suit a cloud-enabled world.

Here’s what you’ll learn from the book:

  • Understand the importance of requirements engineering, including functional versus non-functional requirements

  • Explore design techniques such as domain-driven design, test-driven development (TDD), and behavior-driven development

  • Discover the mantras of selecting the right architectural patterns for modern applications

  • Explore different integration patterns

  • Enhance existing applications with essential cloud-native patterns and recommended practices

  • Address cross-cutting considerations in enterprise applications regardless of architectural choices and application type

By the end of this software architecture book, you'll have acquired some of the most valuable and in-demand software architect skills to progress in your career.


10. Best Book for High Ranking Architects: The Software Architect Elevator

The Software Architect Elevator by Gregor Hohpe gives real-world advice and hard-learned lessons from actual IT transformations. The author’s anecdotes help architects, senior developers, and other IT professionals prepare for a more complex but rewarding role in the enterprise.

The book is divided into five parts and forty one chapters.

  • Part 1 is about Architects. The author discusses many kinds of architects, how they deal with nonrequirements, and Architects as Change Agents.

  • Part 2 covers Architecture. It talks about Software Architecture, three kinds of Architecture, the value of Architecture, Principles Drive Decisions, and Vertical Cohesion.

  • Part 3 talks about Communication and Communication Tools.

  • Part 4 covers Organizational Architecture, the Matrix, and Navigating Large Organizations.

  • Part 5 covers Transformation and leading change.

  • Part 6 talks about Architecting IT Transformation.

The book provides guidance for navigating complex technical and organizational issues. This book is ideal for chief technology officers, enterprise architects, technical architects, IT managers, and other high-ranking engineers.


More Ways to Learn Software Architecture And Design 

That's all about some of the best books on software architecture and design. Whether you are a beginner or an experienced programmer, the books described above will guide you on that path to success. Develop a learning mindset and absorb concepts from these books.

If you prefer online courses over books then you can also check out these resources:

  • Codecademy: Software Design Principles is a great introduction to fundamental principles of software design. You will be able to design more complex systems with techniques such as design patterns, SOLID principles, and UML. For more on Codecademy Pro, see my Codecademy Pro review.

  • Udemy: Developer To Architect: Mastering Software Architecture is a 25.5-hours high rated course with 6 articles and 7 downloadable resources. It helps you learn Software & Solution Architecture for Architecting and Deploying Large-Scale, Highly-Available and Secure Systems 

We also suggest here over 70 coding resources that are free online.

Thank you for reading this blog. Do you have any additional interesting books and web resources about software architecture and design? Share your views with us. 

Miranda Limonczenko

Miranda is the founder of Books on Code, with a mission to bring book-lover culture to programmers. Learn more by checking out Miranda on LinkedIn.


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