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Documenting Software Architectures: Views and Beyond 1st Edition

4.5 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 078-5342703726
ISBN-10: 0201703726
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Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

"This book is of immense value. It should save you months of trials and errors, lots of undeserved hassle, and many costly mistakes that could potentially jeopardize the whole endeavor. It will become an important reference on the shelf of the software architect."
—From the Foreword by Philippe Kruchten, Rational Software Canada

"There is probably no better set of authors to write this book. The material is readable. It uses humor effectively. It is nicely introspective when appropriate, and yet in the end it is forthright and decisive....This is a tour de force on the subject of architectural documentation."
—Robert Glass, Editor-in-Chief, Journal of Systems and Software and Editor/Publisher, The Software Practitioner

For all but the most trivial software systems, you must pay close attention to the architecture—the conceptual glue that holds every phase of a project together for its many stakeholders. Without an architecture that is appropriate for the problem being solved, the project will stumble along or, most likely, fail. Even with a superb architecture, if that architecture is not well understood or well communicated—in other words, well documented—the project cannot be considered a complete success.

Although architecture is now widely recognized as a critical element in software development, there has been little guidance independent of language or notation on how to capture it. Based on the authors' extensive experience, Documenting Software Architectures helps you decide what information to document, and then, with guidelines and examples (in various notations, including UML), shows you how to express an architecture in a form that everyone can understand. If you go to the trouble of creating a strong architecture, you must also be prepared to describe it thoroughly and clearly, and to organize it so that others can quickly find the information they need.

Essential topics for practitioners include:

  • Seven rules for sound documentation
  • The uses of software architecture documentation, including goals and strategies
  • Architectural views and styles, with general introductions and specific examples
  • Documenting software interfaces and software behavior
  • Templates for capturing and organizing information to generate a coherent package


About the Author

Paul Clements is a senior member of the technical staff at the SEI, where he works on software architecture and product line engineering. He is the author of five books and more than three dozen papers on these and other topics.

Len Bass is a senior member of the technical staff at the Software Engineering Institute (SEI). He has written or edited five books and numerous papers on software engineering and other topics. He has extensive experience in architecting real-world development projects.

Robert L. Nord, a member of the software architecture program at SCR, designs and evaluates software architectures for large-scale industrial systems. Dr. Nord, currently the Siemens industrial resident affiliate at the Software Engineering Institute (SEI) in Pittsburgh, is working on methods for architecture trade-off analysis and product-line practices. His other interests include transitioning software design practices, improving architecture practices using software architecture improvement groups, and architecture-based development.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 560 pages
  • Publisher: Addison-Wesley Professional; 1 edition (October 6, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0201703726
  • ISBN-13: 978-0201703726
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.4 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,584,260 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By wiredweird HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWER on June 22, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Software architecture really is unlike any other aspect of its design. The architecture has deeper meaning and larger scale than any other aspect, and can't be discussed in the same ways.
This book opens that discussion. Among the "architecture" books I've read lately, this is the only one to offer concrete advice on describing, presenting, and analyzing archtiectural features of a system. It identifies a number of documentation types and variations. It also identifies a number of different readers - developers, future architects, users, etc. - and addresses their different documentation needs.
The authors use a little UML, but not a lot. For one thing, standard UML works at too low a level for architectural discussion. Classes, and even hierarchies of class inheritance are such fine-grained entities that architecture gernerally won't address them. Instead, the authors offer a number of diagramming styles of their own. For once, I agree with the need for non-standard notation.
Even so, I think they under-utilize the existing standards in favor of their own terminology and notation. They could have used a UML profile for lots of the discussion. It would have had to be a new profile, however, not just a force-fit of the real-time profile. They also under-used the existing architecture standards (IEEE/ANSI, DoD, NASA, and more) in favor of their own discussion. Maybe their approach can be used in any of those frameworks, but that should have been more explicit.
I see only one major flaw in this book, the assumption that a software system's architecture describes the program delivered to a customer. That's way too narrow. A large system includes things like test harnesses, debug instrumentation, application-specific QA tools, and user documentation of many kinds.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Since reading a fascinating document titled "CMU/SEI-2001-TN-010 - Documenting Software Architectures: Organization of Documentation Package" a year ago and discovering that the approximately 20-page document was the basis for a book I have patiently waited, and am delighted with how the book turned out.
First, this book stands out as one of the clearest descriptions of how to not only document architectures, but how to manage the documentation project. Second, this is not a dogmatic prescription for how to document, but instead gives a set of techniques and views that can be used singularly or in combination to produce documentation that meets the needs of all technical and business stakeholders.
When I read the brief predecessor to this book I liked the way different view types and styles were introduced, but was left to my own imagination and creativity to employ them based on scant descriptions. This book rectifies those gaps by providing comprehensive guidance on how to create each view type and when it's most appropriate for inclusion into the documentation project. I was also intrigued by the earlier document because it discussed 'information chunking', which is the basis for a technique in which I'm trained and certified called Information Mapping©. The book expands on the earlier work, and it turns out that the material is not only consistent with Information Mapping© at a high level, but also shares many core principles. To me this is another plus because it will introduce readers who have not benefited from formal Information Mapping© training to powerful and effective document design and development techniques.
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Format: Hardcover
After reading my colleague's comments I rushed out and purchased this book. I, too, am trained and certified in Information Mapping© and was impressed at how closely the approach in this book is aligned to that method. However, what I like most is the fact that this book can be used as guidance for a wider scope than just documenting software architectures because it shows how to organize your documentation requirements, develop clear documentation and manage the entire process from start to finish.
I also like the clearly articulated and illustrated advice about how to augment text with graphics, and how to select the views and associated graphics to document requirements, specifications and the finished architecture. An example of how this book goes beyond documenting just architectures is a project in which I was engaged two years ago. One of the major deliverables was a set of operations guides. While this is related to architecture with respect to how its used after it's in production, there were no books that fully described how to go about it in a coherent way. Using the advice and techniques in this book I could have greatly improved upon what I did produce. While I cannot change the past, you can be sure that I'll use this book to its fullest the next time I need to write ops guides, especially when it comes to showing component and connector views, and elements and relations.
If you do technical writing either professionally or as a part of your job get this book and keep it nearby. If you read and use the material you're ability to communicate will surely improve, and you'll be able to tailor your documentation to each segment of your audience (business and technical), as well as to clearly communicate information. You'll also learn much about managing the documentation process itself.
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