Architecture RIP

One designs or architects solutions to problems – technologies be they ESB’s, CORBA etc are merely implementations of (parts of) an architectural solution. Note that one might compromise one’s architecture slightly because it’s expedient to use an off-the-shelf product. Regardless the important point is that architecture comes first, not last and yet that’s rarely the case these days. Instead technology rules…..

Consider how prevalent the use of frameworks is within our industry and think about the fact that in many cases one simply writes a POJO or two and leaves the rest to the framework. The framework makes life easier, it solves the big problems but it also exerts force on the design of our software as after all we must write it to follow the appropriate conventions, implement the appropriate methods etc.

The very worst example of the framework trend is seen in the decision to purchase a mammoth framework offering that provides everything in one box as an “integrated solution”. A huge stack that get’s connected into everything and exerts massive gravity on our architecture. Everything becomes an exercise in warping aspects of our system to fit with this stack and the assumptions of its creators. Essentially we’ve bought “architecture in a box”.

We’ve been doing this sort of thing for a long time and there’s even a business case to go with it. Enterprises want commodity developers. These chaps are not trusted to take on the bigger challenges rather it’s deemed appropriate to use frameworks (in the form of middleware) to address these big issues and confine the developers to the task of simply implementing the business logic.

There’s an entire industry of analysts and others devoted to producing endless tech comparisons to determine just which of the myriad of frameworks will be the single, final silver bullet solution that allows one to implement an entire system in a matter of weeks. This stuff is gobbled up by the the commodity programmer brigade.

Changing these behaviours is challenging: Architecture RIP? Possibly but a recent comment on ESB’s from Ron Schmelzer means there’s still hope. And there is at least one part of the developer universe that sees value in architecture.

Technorati Tags: , ,