Speaking at Denver (ITARC) Conference, 6 May 2010, Architecture Haiku

Mar 18, 2010 | George Fairbanks

I will be speaking on 6 May 2010 at the Denver IASA IT Architecture (ITARC) Conference. And yes, I have the coveted 5:30-6:30pm slot :-) The talk will be about Architecture Haiku: One-Page Architecture Descriptions.

You can’t say anything in one page — or can you? An Architecture Haiku is a one-page, quick-to-build, uber-terse design description. No agile project wants “shelfware” documentation, but many must communicate their design to others. Brevity is hard — what would you say in one page?

20 years of architecture research suggests that tradeoffs, quality attribute priorities, architecture styles, and constraints are short yet valuable. This tutorial teaches a new agile design practice that helps your team understand its design and communicate it with others.

Normally, when someone starts talking about architecture, they can go on forever — it seems like almost anything can be considered architectural. One interesting thing about constraining the description to one page (an architecure haiku) is that it forces people to make choices. Consequently, they have to be direct and use the most compact language possible. Another interesting thing is that it clearly isn’t BDUF.

Most folks who are asked to write their architecture on one page have a hard time. The point of the tutorial is to demonstrate that it is hard — hence asking the participants to do it themselves — but also go give a whirlwind tour of the essential ingredients of an architecture description. E.g., modules vs. components, viewtypes (module, runtime, allocation), quality attributes, tradeoffs, drivers, architecture patterns (map-reduce, client-server, n-tier, …). These are elements that aren’t directly expressible in programming languages (i.e., bigger than classes), so most developers won’t have a crisp idea about them.

The conference is cheap — just $150 if you join IASA ($50) and register in early April.

Edit 9 Aug 2010: Slides from Architecture Haiku talk

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George Fairbanks is a software developer, designer, and architect living in New York city

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