Skip to main content

ROI on Architecture

Bill Venners has started an interesting thread on software architecture and ROI at Artima.
Here is my response to the posting:
There are two forces that a software usually has to reckon with. Changes in business requirements and changes in technology. Let's say we build an ERP system. Some business rules in the accounting module might have to be modified due to changes in tax laws. Parhaps the client might want to produce more reports or change some existing ones. The client might want to change the UI. Brainstorming with domain experts and clients will most likely help us make a comprehensive (though not all-encompassing) list of requirements that can change in the next let's say three years. With some further thought we may also be able to attach a probablity of change. If we incorporate enough flexibility for high probablity changes then we will get a good return on investment on the architecture. I think this is the middle ground between an overly simplified architecture and a very complex one. The other force that acts on our architecture is changes in technology. Had we created our ERP system with an amateuer homegrown MVC kernel, then we might at some point feel the need to use Struts or an equivalent framework. The refactoring effort will depend on our choices of classes and their responsibilities. If we have used good OO priciples and ensured that each class has a coherent set of responsibilities and the methods are well structured, then we might actually be able to reuse a large part of our existing code base with minor modifications in the new architecure. What if we have to face a drastic technological change, which will render our current code base useless? This is possible though not very likely. Technological changes do not usually happen overnight. There is enough indication before a promising technology becomes mainstream. If we adopt the practice of constant refactoring then we should be able to adapt to the new tecghnology gradually.I think there is a definite value to a well thought architecture. This value is maintained if the thought on architecture is not limited to the architecture phase, but rather is a continous process.Bill, you mention diminishing returns on code quality. How do you define code quality, and why does creating good quality code take more time? Good quality code is not bulkier than mediocre code. I think it is effort that is spent thinking on what to code, or how to structure code that is time consuming. If we constantly practice writing good code then this thought process becomes second nature, and it does not take a lot of time. The extra time it does take is worth more than the effort we would have to put in to fix bugs.Is it possible that if programmers had a lot of discipline and dilligence then they would produce good quality code by deault?


Popular posts from this blog

Running your own one person company

Recently there was a post on PuneTech on mom's re-entering the IT work force after a break. Two of the biggest concerns mentioned were : Coping with vast advances (changes) in the IT landscape Balancing work and family responsibilities Since I have been running a one person company for a good amount of time, I suggested that as an option. In this post I will discuss various aspects of running a one person company. Advantages: You have full control of your time. You can choose to spend as much or as little time as you would like. There is also a good chance that you will be able to decide when you want to spend that time. You get to work on something that you enjoy doing. Tremendous work satisfaction. You have the option of working from home. Disadvantages: It can take a little while for the work to get set, so you may not be able to see revenues for some time. It takes a huge amount of discipline to work without a boss, and without deadlines. You will not get the benefits (insuran

Some thoughts on redesigning education

Some time back I read a blog post on redesigning education. It asked some very good questions. Stuff which I had been thinking of myself. I left my thoughts on the blog, but I would also like to start a conversation around these ideas with those who read this blog as well. I would like to know what other people think of the issue of redesigning (college) education. I have often thought about how college education can be improved. To answer this question, we first have to ask a very basic question. What is the purpose of education? To me, we need education for 3 things: To learn more about the world around us To lead positive constructive lives To earn a good living / fulfill our ambitions I think education has to a large extent evolved to fulfill #3 (with a bias towards earning a comfortable living). The semester system, along with multiple choice tests, and grading, has made our education system into an assembly line. Students are pushed into the assembly line, given classes, admini

Testing Groovy domain classes

If you are trying to test Grails domain class constraints by putting your unit test cases in the 'test/unit' directory, then your tests will fail because the domain objects will not have the 'valdate' method. This can be resolved in two ways: Place the test cases inside test/integration (which will slow things down) Use the method 'mockForConstraintsTests(Trail)' to create mock method in your domain class and continue writing your test cases in 'test/unit' What follows is some example code around this finding. I am working on a Groovy on Grails project for a website to help programmers keep up and refresh their skills. I started with some domain classes and then moved on to write some unit tests. When we create a Grails project using grails create-app , it creates several directories, one of which is a directory called 'test' for holding unit tests. This directory contains two directories, 'unit', and 'integration' for uni