What constitutes an architecture?
“You employ stone, wood and concrete, and with these materials you build houses and palaces. That is construction. Ingenuity is at work.
But suddenly you touch my heart, you do me good, I am happy and I say ‘This is beautiful’. That is Architecture.”
- Le Corbusier, 1923
- Quoted in Architecture: From Prehistory to Post-modernism
Well, then what is software architecture?
There is no universal agreed upon formal definition of software architecture, however, the Software Engineering Institute (SEI) has defined it as follows:
“The software architecture of a system is the structure of structures of the system, which comprise software components, the externally visible properties of those components and the relationships among them.” - SEI’s definition of Software Architecture.
- It is a vehicle for communication among stakeholders.
- It is the manifestation of the earliest design decisions.
- It is a reusable, transferable abstraction.
Software elements – modules, components etc. Externally visible properties – does provide for internal flexibility. E.g. a contract is externally visible.
All designs involve tradeoffs. Architecture is the earliest life-cycle artifact that embodies significant design decisions: choices and tradeoffs.
Predict a system’s quality attributes by studying its architecture. We can analyze architecture for achievement of quality attributes – it determines risk not a “grade”.
Bottom line: an evaluation should result in architectural “Risks Themes”. See SEI’s web-site for details.