Talk the Talk
As with any profession, there is a jargon used so that individuals within that profession can effectively communicate with one another. Lawyers talk to one another about habes, voir dire, and benire; airline pilots talk to one another about cherubs, flight levels, and FASO; carpenters talk to one another about butt joints, lap joints, and flux. The same holds true in the software architecture profession. Software architects talk to one another about ROA, Two Step View, and Layer Supertype. Wait, what was that?
It is imperative that software architects, regardless of the platform they are working in, have an effective means of communication between one another. One of those means of communication is through architecture and design patterns. To be an effective software architect you must understand the basic architecture and design patterns, recognize when those patterns are being used, know when to apply the patterns, and be able to communicate to other architects and developers using them.
There are four basic categories of architecture and design patterns: Enterprise Architecture patterns, Application Architecture patterns, Integration patterns, and Design patterns. These categories are generally based on the level of scope within the overall architecture. Enterprise architecture patterns deal with the high-level architecture, whereas design patterns deal with how individual components within the architecture are structured and behave.
Enterprise Architecture Patterns define the framework for the high-level architecture. Some of the more common architecture patterns include Event Driven Architecture (EDA), Service Oriented Architecture (SOA), Resource Oriented Architecture (ROA), and Pipeline Architecture.
Application Architecture Patterns specify how applications or subsystems within the scope of a larger enterprise architecture should be designed. Some common pattern catalogs in this category include the well-known J2EE design patterns (such as Session façade and Service To Worker) and the application architecture patterns described in Martin Fowler’s book “Patterns of Enterprise Application Architecture”.
Integration Patterns are important for designing and communicating concepts surrounding the sharing of information and functionality between components, applications, and subsystems. Some examples of Integration Patterns include file sharing, remote procedure calls, and numerous messaging patterns. Most of these patterns can be found in the excellent book “Enterprise Integration Patterns” by Hohpe and Woolf or via the web at http://www.enterpriseintegrationpatterns.com/eaipatterns.html.
Knowledge and familiarity of the basic design patterns as described by the Gang of Four book “Design Patterns: Elements of Reusable Object-Oriented Software” is a must for any software architect. Although these patterns may appear to be too low-level for a software architect, they are part of a standard vocabulary that makes for effective communication between architects and developers.
In addition to understanding and knowing the basic architecture and design patterns, it is also important to be aware of and understand the various anti-patterns as well. Anti-patterns, a term coined by Andrew Koenig, are repeatable processes that produce ineffective results. Some of the more well-known anti-patterns include Analysis Paralysis, Design By Committee, Mushroom Management, and Death March. Knowledge and awareness of anti-patterns is just as important as knowing the basic architecture and design patterns. The book “AntiPatterns: Refactoring Software, Architectures, and Projects in Crisis” is a great source of information on anti-patterns, as is the website http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anti-patterns.
Knowledge of architecture and design patterns is crucial for the success of any software project undertaking. As with other professions, software architects need the ability to effectively communicate with one another in a clear, concise, and effective way. The patterns are there; it is up to us as software architects to learn and understand these patterns so we can “walk the walk and talk the talk”.
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