Architectural Approaches: Clean and Hexagonal Architecture

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When it comes to software architecture, the pursuit of creating robust and maintainable applications has always been the main goal. As technology evolves, so does the need for software architectures that can adapt, scale, and withstand the test of time. Two such architectural approaches that have gained significant attention in recent years are clean and hexagonal architecture.

In this article, we will explore the key differences and similarities between these two architectural styles, highlighting their benefits and use cases.

Differences between Clean and Hexagonal Architecture

Clean Architecture

Clean Architecture, pioneered by renowned software engineer Robert C. Martin, also known as Uncle Bob, offers a fresh perspective on how software systems should be designed and organized. The core principle of Clean Architecture is to keep the business logic independent of any external frameworks, databases, or user interfaces.

The key components of Clean Architecture are:

1. Entities: Represent domain-specific business objects and encapsulate business rules.

2. Use Cases: Contain application-specific business rules and orchestrate the flow of data between entities.

3. Interface Adapters: Adapt data from the external world to the application and vice versa. This includes input and output interfaces, such as user interfaces, APIs, and database gateways.

4. Frameworks and Drivers: This layer includes web frameworks, databases, and other external tools that interact with the application.

Hexagonal Architecture

Hexagonal Architecture, also known as ports and Adapters Architecture or onion Architecture, focuses on separating the core business logic from the external dependencies. It was introduced by Alistair Cockburn as a way to build software systems that are independent of any specific technology or framework.

  Hexagonal Architecture

The key components of Hexagonal Architecture are:

1. Core: Contains the domain model and business logic, which are technology-agnostic.

2. Ports: Define the interaction points between the core and the external world. These are abstract interfaces that allow the core to communicate with the outside world.

3. Adapters: Implement the ports and handle the communication with external systems, such as databases, user interfaces, or third-party services.

Hexagonal Architecture aims to decouple the core business logic from the infrastructure details, making it easier to replace or switch external dependencies without affecting the core functionality.

Comparison of Clean and Hexagonal Architecture

While both Clean and Hexagonal Architecture share some similarities, they have distinct differences in their approaches. Here are a few points of comparison between Clean and Hexagonal Architecture:

  • Separation of Concerns: Both architectures promote a clear separation of concerns, making the codebase more maintainable and testable. Clean Architecture achieves this through its layered approach, while Hexagonal Architecture achieves it through the Ports and Adapters concept.
  • Testability: Clean Architecture and Hexagonal Architecture both prioritize testability. By decoupling the business logic from external dependencies, it becomes easier to write unit tests and mock external systems.
  • Modularity: Clean Architecture emphasizes modularity by enforcing strict boundaries between layers. This allows for easier codebase maintenance and the replacement of specific components without affecting the entire system. Hexagonal Architecture achieves modularity by separating the business logic from the infrastructure, making it easier to swap out external systems or technologies.
  • Flexibility: Hexagonal Architecture provides more flexibility when it comes to integrating with different technologies or frameworks. It allows for seamless adaptation to changes in external systems without impacting the core logic. Clean Architecture, on the other hand, focuses more on the internal structure of the application and is less concerned with external integration.
  Applying Hexagonal Architecture to a Symfony project
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In conclusion, both Clean and Hexagonal Architecture offer valuable approaches to building software applications. The choice between them depends on the specific requirements and goals of your project. Clean Architecture provides a layered structure that promotes modularity and maintainability, while Hexagonal Architecture focuses on decoupling the business logic from external systems for increased flexibility and adaptability. 

By understanding the key principles and benefits of each architecture, you can make an informed decision that aligns with your project’s needs. Regardless of the chosen approach, adopting a well-defined architectural pattern is crucial for building robust and adaptable systems in the long run. 

If you need help implementing software architecture best practices in your project, feel free to contact us. At Apiumhub, we can help you design and implement software architecture that best fits your product and help you decide between clean and hexagonal architecture.

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