Tuesday, February 27, 2007

When Architecture and Maintenance Meet

In his excellent blog, Jeroen van den Bos is running an insightful series of posts under the Software Maintenance category.

The fact that he so clearly identifies software architecture as a critical factor in its maintenance came for me as revelatory of what is the Ariane's thread that guides my professional career (despite passion, of course). Being an Industrial Maintenance Engineer by training, a Software Developer by passion and a Software Architect by experience, it is clear how these drivers get weaved together into the very fabric of my craftsmanship. In fact, back in 1992, the theme of my graduation project was Software Maintenance. Was all this predetermined?

As critical as it is, software architecture is still an emerging profession in the IT field. After the supremacy of the project managers, architects start to have a saying in the equation. Often, the resistance comes from developers who consider architects as only good with drawing boxes and arrows. This usually lasts until they have to work on a poorly architectured system...

Software architecture is necessary for building systems that:
  • are fun to build, as no-one enjoys fighting with an ill-conceived application, whether its internal design or external interfaces are flawed,
  • last, in the sense they are versatile enough to evolve without breaking and within reasonable budget,
  • and are maintainable, mainly because they are thoroughly testable and written following well defined conventions and standards.
In fact, even the Matrix could not do it without such a profile on-board. Is this a model to follow? Maybe, if we can cut the undecipherable mambo-jumbo speech.