Structuring the software design process

And avoiding complex and cluttered diagrams

Designing software without a computerI had a great time last week discussing software architecture across a mix of QCon, our software architecture training and the IASA session that I ran. I mentioned this earlier in the year, but we've enhanced our material around the architecture definition process to include much more guidance on how you go about actually designing software when all you have is a set of requirements and a blank sheet of paper. In addition to understanding the requirements (functional and non-functional), constraints and principles; it's really about putting some structure into the diagrams that you might draw during your initial agile modeling rather than drawing up a single very complex and cluttered picture that is hard to explain or understand.

I've already written about not needing a UML tool to undertake the software design process and I normally use either a whiteboard, flip chart or index cards, especially when I'm collaborating on the design with others. Tooling aside, here are a few essays that summarise some guidelines and my own approach to designing software.

I don't particularly want to define yet another software design process, but I do want to help people design software simply and effectively. While the guidelines don't replace the need to have a deep technical knowledge and a broad understanding of the available options plus their tradeoffs, they do help people to organise their thinking and design software. I do believe that *some* up-front design is necessary for most software systems but also that it should take hours rather than weeks. I'm sure we'll be refining this sort of content as the year progresses, but please do let us know if you have any feedback.

About the author

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.

You can find Simon on Twitter at @simonbrown ... see for information about his speaking schedule, videos from past conferences and software architecture training.

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