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Agile Architecture and Design

  • Pradyumn Sharma
  • May 16, 2017

Tags: ,

What is (Software) Architecture?

Grady Booch puts it succinctly: “All architecture is design but not all design is architecture. Architecture represents the significant design decisions that shape a system, where significant is measured by cost of change.”

Clearly, it follows that the architecture decisions need to be made with care and foresight.

Agile and Architecture

How do we establish the architecture for a software project in an agile manner? In agile methodologies, we build a system in short iterations, with focus on delivering working software to the customers in an incremental manner. Does that leave us with any time for architecture in a software project? Or do we reserve the first few iterations to creating the architecture?

Dedicating the first few iterations for architecture would be so waterfall-ish. Besides, committing to architecture decisions too early without validation can be very costly for a system.

But that does not mean that there is no architecture in an agile project. We do need to take architecture seriously even in agile projects. Neglecting the architecture, or crafting an inappropriate architecture is also very risky, and can lead to a system turning out to be too brittle.

Overview of Agile Architecture

The agile way to architecting a system is to evolve it iteratively, through initial envisioning, implementation of stories, refactoring and restructuring.

And a good way to accomplish this would be to:

(Basics)
1. Involve the entire team
2. Have an “architecture owner” role
3. Understand your product
(The key stuff)
4. Create an architecture vision
5. Establish architecture through stories
6. Model and implement incrementally.

Let us now look at each of the above points in some detail.

Involve the Entire Team

Agile teams are expected to be cross-functional. We strive to help each team member acquire and demonstrate skills in as many different roles (developer, tester, business analyst, database designer, UI designer, etc) as possible. So why not the role of architect also?

Involve the entire team in things like:

  • architecture discussion, evaluation, implementation
  • architecture reviews

and later:

  • technical debt sessions
  • refactoring and restructuring.

Encouraging every team member to participate in such activities leads to a shared understanding of the architecture, among all the team members.

Have an “Architecture Owner” Role

Identify one of the competent and experienced developers to play the role of “architecture owner”. This person should:

  • be a master builder
  • have the depth and breadth of knowledge and skills needed for architecture decisions
  • provide architectural leadership to the team in a collaborative manner.

The architecture owner:

  • brings the team together for all discussions regarding architecture envisioning and modeling
  • facilitates architecture modeling and evolution
  • helps in building a shared understanding of the architecture among the team members
  • helps the team members enhance their capabilities in understanding architecture principles and tradeoffs involved.

Understand Your Product

Diving in to build a product without having a broad understanding of the system (tunnel vision) is likely to result in an incomplete and inappropriate architecture.

Everyone in the team should have a good understanding of the product (the system) they are going to build. This understanding should include:

  • vision and broad scope of the product
  • key features and their purpose
  • the context in which the system will be used and
  • the constraints and expectations imposed by the context

Create an Architecture Vision

Establish a shared vision of the architecture for a system without committing to any specific architecture decisions.

When should one do this? Sprint Zero is the right time for this. And how? Through an architecture workshop. Organize the architecture workshop right after the team has understood the product vision and gone through the Product Backlog in as much detail as necessary.

Who participates in this workshop? As you can perhaps deduce from the earlier discussion, we involve all the team members in this workshop. And the Product Owner also. After all, architecture needs to be based on the requirements from a system (even if the Product Owner is unable to articulate the architectural requirements clearly).

Let us understand the activities in the architecture workshop now.

Identify the Desired Architecture Qualities

In consultation with the Product Owner, identify the important quality attributes for the architecture of the system. Examples of quality attributes (borrowed from “Software Architecture in Practice”, by Len Bass and others):

  • Portability
  • Modifiability
  • Performance
  • Security
  • Testability
  • Usability
  • Availability
  • Conceptual integrity
  • Accuracy
  • Concurrency
  • Customization points
  • Internationalization
  • Operations
  • Maintenance
  • Environmental impact
  • Reliability
  • Regulatory compliance
  • Serviceability
  • Support
  • Dependencies on external systems

Let’s consider a few examples. If we are building a search engine, we are likely to consider the following as important quality attributes for the architecture:

  • Performance
  • Availability
  • Portability

For a stock trading system, perhaps the following represent some of the important quality attributes:

  • Security
  • Dependency on external systems
  • Performance

Specify the Architectural Qualities

Be specific about what exactly is required for a given quality attribute for the system. For example, the specific security requirements for a system may include:

  • Preventing unauthorized access to data or services
  • Dealing with Denial of Service attacks
  • Non-repudiation (a transaction cannot be denied by any party)
  • Secure transmission of sensitive data

Similarly, the specifics of usability requirements may be:

  • Ability to save incomplete data as draft and resume later
  • The system should provide appropriate feedback about the state of completeness of a business process / long-running transaction / multiple-step data entry, etc
  • Ability to bookmark things / roll back actions in the system

Identify Strategies for Achieving the Desired Architecture Qualities

Next, the team should discuss the various strategies for achieving the desired qualities, including tradeoffs involved, without committing to any architecture at this stage. For example, some of the strategies for implementing security could be:

  • Authentication of users
  • Single sign-on
  • Authorization of users, limiting access
  • Audit trail
  • Intrusion detection system

Likewise, some of the strategies for meeting the usability requirements could be:

  • Separation of UI from the rest of the application
  • Providing feedback in the UI about what the system is doing
  • Letting the user issue commands such as Save as Draft, Cancel, Undo, Redo, etc
  • Using design patterns, such as Command and Memento
  • Maintaining a model of the task, or the system, or the user

Consider the Cross-Cutting Requirements

Identify the functional requirements that are common to many stories (cross-cutting), and consider their impact on the architecture, such as:

  • Audit trail of changes to the system
  • Notifications for important situations that need attention
  • Centralized error logging
  • Exporting data from any list views to spreadsheet files

Take Stock of Reusable Architectural Assets

Over a period of time, your organization may have built some reusable architectural assets, such as application frameworks, logging or error handling mechanisms, which may meet specific requirements of a project portfolio, or applications in specific domains, etc.

In addition, there are many general-purpose, third-party frameworks and toolsets available that address many of the architectural needs mentioned above.

Take stock of the internal as well as external, reusable architectural assets that may potentially meet some of the architectural needs for the system that you are going to build.

Prioritize the Architecture Features (Qualities)

You have a list of architectural qualities required from the system. We can also call them the architectural features of the system. Prioritize these, just as you would the functional stories of the system.

Prioritization would be based on the combination of:

  • Business value of an architecture quality for the customer
  • Cost of implementing early vs cost of implementing late

Add to the Prioritized Product Backlog

Turn the architectural requirement into stories. Add these to the Product Backlog, appropriately ordered by priority. The idea is that the architectural stories will be implemented like functional stories, so that we can test, evaluate and validate these and their appropriateness. Here is an example of a prioritized Product Backlog, with an intermingling of functional and architectural stories.

Establish Architecture through Stories

Pick the first story from the Product Backlog: maintaining the list of “Items” for stock and sale. Implement it the way you would. Identify the acceptance tests. Design the UI. Implement the UI, the business logic, the database operations, and whatever else is required. Run the acceptance tests. Ensure that the story is potentially shippable.


Next, pick the second story: implementing Layering and Partitioning in the “Items” story. Refactor the code from the first implementation to move UI, business logic and database logic in separate layers. Distribute these layers to run in different address spaces. Establish the connections between the layers. And run the acceptance tests again. Ensure that the story is potentially shippable.

At this stage, we have evolved a miniscule architecture, with just one architectural quality taken care of, but it is proven with the working code. Architectural stability and state of completeness, at this stage, is low. But we have taken our first baby step. And we are confident of what we have done. And ready to take the next steps.

We now take up the third story: creating the list of “Account Heads”. And then the fourth one: refactoring the “Items” and “Account Heads” stories to extract the common behavior into a “framework” for the application.


Again, we run all the acceptance tests. And ensure that the stories are all potentially shippable.

Model and Implement Incrementally

As illustrated in the previous section, architecture and design continue to evolve as the system is built. Keep in mind:

  • Model throughout the development lifecycle, in small increments.
  • Split large, complex stories into smaller, more manageable ones.
  • At the start of each iteration, during the Planning Meeting, have discussions on incremental modeling, design changes
  • Apply architecture and design patterns as required, gently
  • Keep investing in architecture across sprints


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  21. 全「身」趨勢!LSD真空無痛技術,無需使用冷凍啫喱,比傳統激光脫毛更安全,更舒適,更快捷。腿部背部永久脫毛,只需15分鐘!最快激光脫毛科技 配以22x35mm 及 9x9mm 治療機頭,比其他品牌之24mm為大,覆蓋肌膚範圍更廣。 因而更能縮短療程時間及次數。專為亞洲皮膚而設 因應不同膚色設定不同能量,無論膚色較深或較白均適用 最舒適及最有效的激光脫毛體驗 (與755nm及1064nm作比較) 設真空脫毛技術 LUMENIS LightSheer® Desire 激光脫毛儀備有真空脫毛技術,令激光能量更集中聚焦,達至更快及更有效之療程效果。

  22. ION MAGNUM says:

    FineScan 會在肌膚上製造數以千計的細小深入傷口,即所謂的顯微加熱區(microthermal zone),但要確保每次治療時皆有部份組織不受能量影響,於是,每一個顯微加熱區的作用雖然強烈而明顯,但周圍都包覆著正常且結構完整的皮膚組織,使傷口能在短時間內癒合,並替換之前有缺陷的受損組織。Finescan不僅可讓表皮新生,更可促進深層膠原再生,從內而外徹底喚醒細胞,瞬時找回年輕時的肌膚狀態。憑藉最新的雙軸技術,FINESCAN 6可治療 – 面部 – 頸部 – 暗瘡凹凸洞 – 增生性疤痕

  23. Sculptra 含有由含有源於植物果酸的 PLLA 聚左乳酸(poly-L-lactic acid),它能促進天然膠原蛋白大量增生,令容顏重現年輕,一個療程的效果能持續逾2年。Sculptra 乃全球唯一獲美國食物及藥物管理局(美國FDA)認可的PLLA聚左乳酸美容品牌。Sculptra 塑然雅會被人體自然分解吸收,同時促進天然膠原蛋白再生1。療程效果可以漸進地給你更富清新朝氣的容頻,效果自然,更不會影響面部表情。SCULPTRA 塑然雅 Sculptra 由含有源於植物果酸的PLLA聚左乳酸(poly-L-lactic acid),它可以被新陳代謝成二氧化碳及水,最終自體內排出。PLLA聚左乳酸早已被廣泛應用於醫療用品超過30年,自2009年起 Sculptra 及全球唯一獲美國FDA認可的PLLA聚左乳酸美容醫學品牌。Sculptra ® 塑然雅能促進天然膠原蛋白大量增生1,改善皺紋,令容顏重現年輕。全球唯一獲美國FDA認可PLLA聚左乳酸。臨床研究證實於3個月間,肌膚的膠原蛋白密度 顯著增加67%2。療程效果能持續愈2年3。主要成份PLLA聚左乳酸源於植物果酸,醫學界廣泛使用超過30年。

  24. CRM客戶管理系統整合

  25. 本地搜尋引擎最佳化

  26. 激光無創熱作用模式精準作用於陰道粘膜層、肌層,使陰道組織發生新生改變,修復由於順產而引起的損傷,解決一系列產後女性生殖系統常見問題。私密緊緻作用原理:刺激陰道粘膜固有層、粘膜肌層,使其膠原纖維、彈性纖維大量增生重塑;彈性纖維網修復,陰道收緊 SUI作用原理:恢復盆底正常解剖位置 陰道彈性纖維網得以修復,恢復到正常解剖位置避免了擠壓,牽拉尿道,使尿道角度恢復正常 盆底血供豐富,間接的使尿道括約肌得以修復進而停止漏尿或症狀減輕 私密敏感、潤滑作用原理:CO2微脈管作用,使血管重建、促進血液循環 血管活性腸肽(VIP)和神經肽Y(NPY) 表達增加,敏感度增加 血流量增加,陰道上皮細胞功能增加、陰道粘膜自分泌功能增強,潤滑度增加

  27. removal says:

    JUVEDERM由透明質酸Hyaluronic Acid(一種天然多醣體)製造而成,並具有幼滑及高凝聚力的配方。透明質酸(HA)是皮膚組織的主要成份之一,能自然存在於人體肌膚內 JUVEDERM所用的透明質酸非由動物身體提取,可鎖住水份保濕皮膚,從而增加皮膚密度並改善質感 Juvederm 玻尿酸 加強優化面部輪廓,可被身體完全吸引,能自然地修飾面部輪廓 功效可長達24個月以上 JUVEDERM的特點: 效果立即可見 非永久性 非手術性 安全有效 效果自然 JUVEDERM獲歐盟(CE)及美國及藥物管理局(FDA)認證 首先及唯一獲得FDA認證在首次療程後能維持長達一年2-4功效 新世代專員Hylacross科技為產品帶來獨特的物理特質,包括凝聚力、支撐力及柔順度 這是一套由全球著名醫學美容醫生Dr. Maurício de Maio,以JUVÉDERM®系列透明質酸產品為基礎而研發的面部優化療程,藉著簡單程序便達致面部優化效果,不需進行手術,減低風險。

  28. 熱能 says:

    用CO2激光完美的波長與熱作用比例,強大的熱作用可以使陰道粘膜中的膠原纖維、彈性纖維、網狀纖維及有機基質大量增生重塑;CO2的微脈管作用原理使陰道血管重建,血流量增加,細胞功能活躍,進而使陰道緊緻,分泌作用增強、敏感度提高,使陰道恢復年輕、健康狀態。

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