January 28, 2021
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Introducing Enterprise Java Application Architecture and Design

  • By Dhrubojyoti Kayal
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Aggregation is a form of association in which one element consists of other, smaller constituents. This relationship is depicted by a diamond-shaped white arrowhead. In this case, if the parent object is deleted, the child object may still continue to exist. Figure 12 shows an aggregation relation between an insurance agent and the local insurance office in which he works. The local insurance office is where insurance agents carry out tasks such as policy underwriting, depositing premiums for their customers, and various other functions. So even if the local office is closed down, the agent can report to another office. Similarly, the agent can de-register from a local office and move to a different office of the same insurer.

Figure 12. Aggregation


Composition is a stronger form of aggregation; as in this case, if the parent is deleted, the children will also no longer exist. This relationship is depicted by a diamond-shaped solid arrowhead. Figure 13 shows the composition relationship between a party involved in some policy or claim and their address. If the party is deleted from the system, its address will also be deleted.

Figure 13. Composition

Sequence Diagram

A sequence diagram is used to model dynamic aspects of the system by depicting the message exchange between the objects in the system over a period of time. A sequence diagram is used to show the sequence of interactions that take place between different objects to fulfill a particular use case. Unlike a class diagram that represents the entire domain model of the application, a sequence diagram can show interaction details of a particular process only.

Object and Messages

In a sequence diagram, an object is shown with its name underlined in a rectangular box. The messages are represented by arrows starting on one object and ending on the other. An object can call a method on itself, which is a self-message and represented by an arrow starting and terminating on the same object, as shown in Figure 14.

Figure 14. Lifeline in a sequence diagram


Each object has a lifeline represented by a dashed line going downward from the object box (as shown in Figure 14). It represents the time axis for the entire sequence diagram with time elapsed measured by moving downward on the lifeline.

Return Values

The messages in a sequence diagram can optionally have a return value, as shown in Figure 15. The createNewPolicy message, for instance, returns a PolicyDetail object.

Figure 15. Optional return value in a sequence diagram


Developing distributed multitier applications is a daunting task. The Java EE platform looks to simplify this task by defining a container-based architecture. It defines a specification of the runtime environment for the application code and the low-level system services that it should provide. This allows the application developers to focus on writing business logic. The Java EE application architecture is based on the core platform architecture and established MVC principle. With this, you can clearly define specialized component layers in each tier. The web tier, for example, hosts the presentation layer of an application, whereas the business and data access layers generally reside on the application server tier.

Java EE design, on the other hand, is an extended object design. The Java EE design patterns catalog provides guidance and best practices in composing the objects and their interaction within and across the layers and tiers. The design patterns catalog documents the years of experience of designers and developers in delivering successful Java EE applications. The Java EE design and architecture can be documented using UML notations. These are graphical notations that help provide a pictorial view of the static structures and dynamic interactions of the domain objects.

About the Author

Dhrubojyoti Kayal works as a senior consultant with Capgemini Consulting. He has more than five years of experience developing and designing applications and products leveraging Enterprise Java technologies. His areas of interests include the Spring Framework, ORM, SOA, refactoring, prefactoring, and performance engineering.

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This article was originally published on March 3, 2009

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