Friday, December 11, 2009

Some Thoughts on Cathedrals and Software Architectures

While preparing a talk on module systems and architectures I remembered some old talks I listened to talking about architectures and arguing why an explicit software architect is necessary within professional projects. Many of them used the analogy of building a dog-house versus building a cathedral. For a small dog house, you don't need an architecture. But for the cathedral you do. Hm, agree, but where is the point?

I think the world has changed. Today for most software systems the analogy of building something like a cathedral is no longer a good choice. And I hope that people no longer have a cathedral in mind when designing software. We have learned that building software is a learning process, that requirements change all the time, that we need a short time-to-market, and most of all that we need feedback all the time - and react to this feedback quickly. Agile methods reflect this and allows us to move forward to modern ways of software development.

But our view on architectures need to reflect this. Modern software architectures need to be build for flexibility, for changing requirements all the time, for changing even fundamental layers of our software in a flexible way without causing tremendous costs. Having a cathedral in mind don't help you here. But if you still like the analogy of building real buildings (even though I think this is not always a good analogy to building software at all), you should take a look at some modern office buildings. Maybe they are not as beautiful as some of the old cathedrals, but they are built for flexibility.

But building flexible architectures is not an easy task. We need to build a flexible architecture and at the same time just what we need without designing all possible stuff upfront. Sounds like contradictory goals, eh? Hm, in some way, they are. I think modularity can help you to solve this conflict. Modularity (and I mean modularity on a higher level than individual classes or packages, but more something like Bundles in OSGi) helps you to think about dependencies, coupling, cohesion, and many of these nice design principles. And I think we all agree on having a good, decoupled design makes life easier when things change - and they will change.

Slides from Meet-The-Experts on Architecture

Last friday I was invited to give a talk at the Meet-the-Experts event in Solingen. I talked about my view on architectures in an agile world and how module systems drive those architectures for a flexible future. Here are the slides:

Thursday, December 10, 2009

2nd Eclipse DemoCamp Hamburg in 2009

I organized a number of demo camps over the past years (always together with my colleague and friend Peter Friese), but the last one was different. I was overwhelmed by the huge number of registered attendees for the 2nd Eclipse Demo Camp in Hamburg this year. We had over 110 people registered on the wiki - around twice as much as for the other camps in the past. And nearly all of them showed up at the event. This was absolutely amazing! Thanks again to all of you making this event such a big success!!!

Peter posted some notes on the program and what happened during the demo camp, so I don't repeat all this and instead direct you to his nice summary of the event. And I have to say many many thanks to all the wonderful speakers who all gave funny and entertaining talks and made the evening not just full-packed with information and details on Eclipse stuff, but also a fun event. I enjoyed it very very much!

Looking forward to organizing the next demo camps and hoping to see you all there!!!