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Invisible, Thus Irrelevant

A system that has a sound architecture is one that has conceptual integrity, and as (Fred) Brooks firmly states, “conceptual integrity is the most important consideration in system design”. In some ways, the architecture of a system is largely irrelevant to its end users. However, having a clean internal structure is essential to constructing a system that is understandable, can be extended and reorganized, and is maintainable and testable.

The above paragraph was taken from Booch et al’s delightful “Object-Oriented Analysis And Design With Applications“. BD00’s version of the bolded sentence is:

In some ways, the architecture of a system is largely irrelevant to its end users, its developers, and all levels of management in the development organization.

If the architecture is invisible because of the lack of a lightweight, widely circulated, communicated, and understood, set of living artifacts, then it can’t be relevant to any type of stakeholder – even a developer. As the saying goes: “out of site, out of mind“.

Despite the long term business importance of understandability, extendability, reorganizability, maintainability, and testability, many revenue generating product architectures are indeed invisible – unlike short term schedulability and budgetability; which are always highly visible.

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