I've already written that architects should get involved with the code and there's a flip side to this where I'm constantly asked whether architects *can* continue to code if they are to climb the corporate career ladder. This is a shame, particularly if these people really enjoy the technical side of what they do.
My take on this is yes, absolutely, you can continue to code. For me, it's quite frustrating to hear interview candidates say, "well, I understand that I'll have to give up coding to become an architect or to progress further up the career path". There are lots of organisations where this is the expectation and it's reassuring that I'm not the only person to have been told that coding doesn't have a place in the senior ranks of an organisation. Something that really struck a chord was a quote from somebody at the closing QCon London panel recently.
We’re losing all of the senior technology mentors into management positions.
As a software architect, you take on a great deal of responsibility for satisfying the non-functionals, performing quality assurance, making sure the software is fit for purpose, etc. This *is* a senior role and coding is one of the very best ways to make sure the project is successful. I have some thoughts on the whole career progression thing that I'll save for another day, but I want to reiterate what I say to everybody that comes through our doors for an interview. No, you don't have to give up coding.
Simon is an independent consultant specializing in software architecture, and the author of Software Architecture for Developers (a developer-friendly guide to software architecture, technical leadership and the balance with agility). He’s also the creator of the C4 software architecture model and the founder of Structurizr, which is a collection of open source and commercial tooling to help software teams visualise, document and explore their software architecture.