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Top 20 System and Software Design Interview Questions for Java Programmers (2024)

System design questions are an important part of programming job interviews and if you want to do well, you must prepare this topic. In the past, when I shared my list of programming interview questions, I have shared a couple of System design questions but my readers kept asking me for more questions, as it is a hard topic to master and more and more practice is needed. I had my own list of questions that I have collected from various interviews with friends and colleagues but I needed more questions for this article and my own preparation then I stumbled upon the Grokking System Design Interview course. It's an excellent resource because it not only gives you a lot of System design question but also provide all the knowledge and tools you need to solve those questions.

In other words, this course teaches you to step by step how to proceed with designing a real-world system like Facebook, Twitter, Uber, etc.

When you combine this course with this list of questions you would have the best material to prepare for your System design interview. You can also first try all these questions by yourself before joining the course or looking at my solution for some of the questions.

Btw, this works best only if you have some Coding experience and fundamental knowledge of Computer Science and Software Design. If you are a complete beginner in this area then I would suggest you first start with a fundamental course to learn basics like Java Programming: Principles of Software Design on Coursera.

This course will not only teach you how to solve a real-world problem using Java with multiple classes but also software design which is not just coding but also involves logical thinking and design, which is very important for becoming a successful Software Developer.

Once you have the foundation built, you can join a practice course like Low-Level System Design [An interview perspective] on Udemy to develop the skills you need to solve real-world system design questions and it comes by solving them which this course will teach you.

20+ System Design Interview Questions for Programmers in 2024

Without any further ado, here is the list of some of the most popular System design or Object-oriented analysis and design questions to crack any programming job interview.

1. How to design the Vending Machine in Java? (solution)
You need to write code to implement a Vending machine that has a bunch of products like chocolates, candy, cold-drink, and accept some coins like Nickel, Dime, Quarter, Cent, etc. Make sure you insert a coin, get a product back, and get your chance back. Also, write the Unit test to demonstrate that these common use cases work.  If you get stuck you can read my two-part articles (part1 and part 2) about solving these classical system design questions.

2. How to design a URL Shortening service like
This one is another common System design question. You have given a (typically) long URL, how would you design a service that would generate a shorter and unique alias for it?

Creating a URL shortening service like involves several key components. Users need to register, allowing them to manage and track their shortened URLs. A user-friendly web interface or browser extension simplifies URL shortening. 

The service should generate unique, short codes for each URL and offer analytics to track link performance. Scalable databases store original and shortened URLs. Implementing security measures, like rate limiting and preventing malicious links, is crucial. Employing a content delivery network (CDN) for fast redirection and high availability is wise. 

Additionally, designing for scalability and fault tolerance, while complying with privacy regulations and ensuring link persistence, are essential considerations. If you are not familiar with URL shortener services have a look at some of the popular ones e.g. from Google and which is used by Twitter.

Make sure to provide database schema and rationale behind some design decisions like how long you keep the data, how to get stats and analytics etc. If you get stuck, you can follow the solution given on Grokking the System Design Interview course on DesignGuru, one of the best place to prepare for System design interview.

They have the best courses to prepare for coding interview including System Design, Coding questions, Dynamic programming and advanced System design questions. If you are preparing for interviews, you can also take their all course bundle, which not only include this System design interview course but also advanced System design interview and all grokking courses for a big discount and prepare well. They are now also offering 20% discount on top of it. 

Top 20 System and Software Design Interview Questions for Java Programmers

3. How to design a traffic control system?
A classical system design question from old age which is still popular. Make sure you know how to transition from one state to another like RED to GREEN and from GREEN to ORANGE to RED etc.

4. How to design a limit order book? (solution)
A limit order book is used in stock exchanges to match a buy order with a sell order based on price and time priority. How would you go about that? Which data structure you will use? Remember, the speed of matching is key and also the reliability. If you need a refresher on Data Structure then you can check out Data Structure and Algorithm in Java course and If you feel stuck you can check out my solution here.

5. How to design a website like Pastebin?
Pastebin allows you to paste text or code and then share a link to that code anywhere you want. It's not an online code editor but you can use this to store any kind of text.

6. How would you create your own Instagram?
Instagram is a photo-sharing application that provides some custom filters to enhance your photo quality.

7. How to design a global file sharing and storage apps like Google Drive or Dropbox?
These are used to store and share files, photos, and other media. How do you go about designing things like allowing users to upload/view/search/share files or photos? track permissions for file sharing, and allow multiple users to edit the same document?

8. How to design a chat application like WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger?
You have surely used WhatsApp and Facebook, right? No? If not let me tell you that a chat application allows you to send messages to your friend. It's a point-to-point connection. You keep a friend list and see their status and chat with them. In WhatsApp, you can also connect groups but that is for advanced and experienced developers. At a minimum, you should provide a design to keep a friend list and send and receive messages from them.

9. How to design a Twitter Clone?
Twitter is a popular messaging service that lets you broadcast your messages to all your followers. You tweet and your followers see those messages, they can like or retweet. Make sure you implement common features like followers, hashtags, tweets, delete, etc. If you feel not going nowhere and are stuck, you can follow the solution on System Design Interviews: Grokking the Modern System Design Interview.

How to design a twitter clone

10. How to design a global video streaming service e.g. YouTube or NetFlix?
While designing a video streaming service like NetFlix or YouTube key thing is smooth streaming and buffering and functioning over low bandwidth connection, how do you manage those challenges.

11. How to design an ATM machine?
An ATM machine allows a user to deposit and withdraw cash. It also allows a user to see his balance. How do you design such a system? What are your main challenges?

12. How to design an API Rate Limiter?

13. How to design Twitter Search?

14. How to design a Web Crawler like Google?
A Web Crawler goes to a website and crawl all link and index them e.g. Google so that they can later appear in a search result. A Crawler can also use for searching a particular file in a set of directories, how do you design such things? What are the main challenges?

15. How to design Facebook’s Newsfeed? What kind of Algorithm will you use?
The newsfeed is an important part of Facebook which allows a user to see what's happening around his world which includes friends and families, the pages he has liked, the group he has followed, and of course the Facebook Ads.

The job of the Newsfeed algorithm is to show messages which are most important for the user and which can generate high engagement. Obviously, messages from friends and family should take priority.   If you feel not going anywhere and are stuck, you can follow the solution on System Design Interviews: Grokking the System Design Interview.

Top 20 System Design Interview Questions for Java Programmers

16. How to design Yelp or Nearby Friends?
This is another popular OOP design interview question where you will be asked to design an app like Yelp, which helps you to find things in your nearby. They are reviewed and suggested by your connections. You can check out Yelp to learn more before building this product or designing the solution.

Now, coming to the design part. Designing a platform like Yelp for restaurant reviews or Nearby Friends for location-based social networking involves several key components. Users need profiles with personal details and preferences. 

For Yelp, restaurants require listings, reviews, and ratings. Nearby Friends needs real-time location tracking and mapping. Both platforms benefit from social features like friend requests, notifications, and messaging. Scalable databases manage user data, reviews, and location histories. 

Geolocation services provide real-time location data. A mobile-friendly interface and responsive design enhance user experience. 

Additionally, a robust recommendation engine, user-generated content moderation, and privacy controls ensure functionality and user safety, while compliance with local regulations is essential.

17. How to design a global ride-hailing service like Uber, Grab, or Ola backend?
Uber and Ola are two of the most popular ride-hailing services, it brings both drivers and passengers together. How do you go about designing to allow a passenger to see nearby taxis and book them?

For example, designing a global ride-hailing service like Uber, Grab, or Ola's backend involves a robust and scalable architecture. It begins with requirements gathering to understand user expectations, business goals, and target markets. 

Key components include user authentication and profiles, geolocation services for real-time tracking, a matching engine for pairing riders with drivers, payment processing, and a robust database system for managing user data and ride history. 

Microservices architecture is often employed for flexibility and scalability, and cloud infrastructure can accommodate global demand. 

Additionally, prioritizing data security, compliance with regional regulations, and thorough testing for performance and reliability are essential for a successful global ride-hailing platform.

18. How to design BookMyShow?
This is another popular system design interview question where you need to design a website that allows you to book cinema and event tickets. It's a popular startup from India but also presents a lot of challenges to build like booking family seats, keeping premium seats but you don't need to build that, just build a simple solution that allows you to book tickets.

19. How to design a social network + message board service sites like Quora, Reddit, or HackerNews?
Reddit, Quora, and HackerNews are some of the most popular social network sites where users can post questions or share links. Other users can answer questions or comment on the shared links. You can further see The Complete Design Interview Course-System Design Interview course on Udemy to learn some easy techniques to solve real-world system design questions.

20. How do you design an application like Airbnb?
If you don't know what is Airbnb, It allows some users to upload rooms for rent and other users to rent them. Some of the features are only available to admins, publishers, and subscribers. If this question is asked to you can start explaining functionality and then share how to implement it. 

For example, if I asked about this question on System design interview then  I would approach it systematically. I'd start by discussing the architecture, emphasizing scalability, and user experience.

Firstly, I'd consider a microservices architecture to handle various functionalities like property listings, bookings, reviews, and messaging. This would allow for flexibility, scalability, and independent development of each component.

For user experience, I'd focus on responsive and user-friendly interfaces across web and mobile platforms, ensuring intuitive navigation and efficient search and booking processes. Incorporating geolocation features for property location and interactive maps would be crucial.

Regarding databases, I'd opt for a combination of relational and NoSQL databases to handle structured and semi-structured data efficiently. Caching mechanisms could be implemented for frequently accessed data.

Security and privacy measures would be paramount, including secure authentication, data encryption, and adherence to privacy regulations.

Scalability considerations would involve load balancing, horizontal scaling, and monitoring for performance optimization.

Payment processing integration, notifications, and real-time communication would be key technical challenges to address.

Throughout the discussion, I'd emphasize the importance of thorough testing, including stress testing and security assessments, to ensure a robust and reliable application.

That's all about some of the frequently asked System Design Interview Questions for Java Programmers. Btw, these questions are not just useful for Java Programmers but also for Python, C++, and Ruby Programmers. These questions are actually independent of the programming language and test your software design and architecture skill.

Further Reading
Grokking the Object-Oriented Design Interview
Cracking the Code Interview - 189 Problems with Solutions
Software Engineer Interview Unleashed by Udemy
The System Design Primer on Github

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Thanks for reading this article so far. If you like these Software design interview questions then please share them with your friends and colleagues. If you have any questions or feedback then please drop a note.

P. S. - If you are looking for some free courses to learn Design Pattern and Software Architecture, I also suggest you check out the Java Design Patterns and Architecture course by John Purcell on Udemy. It's completely free, all you need to do is create an Udemy account to access this course.

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