Sunday, August 13, 2017

From Developer to Architect: Patterns, Architecture Types, Soft Skills, and Continuous Delivery (Video Tutorial)

O’Reilly don’t just publish great technology books they also do some great video tutorials which are available from Safari.  I recently just finished the series: From Developer to Architect: Patterns, Architecture Types, Soft Skills, and Continuous Delivery which consists of tutorial style videos about architectural patterns and anti-patterns, soft skills and a run through of some DevOps ideas and best practices.  All the 17 tutorials are presented by two seasoned Architects Mark Richards and Neil Ford and take about
Neil Ford

Even though the course is more at the fundamental / introductory level there are some topics and nuggets of information that are still useful either because you never had exposure to them (for example, not many projects use event driven architectures extensively) or you have just forgotten them - in which case the course serves as an excellent refresher.

Some highlights:
  1. The differences between Application, Integration and Enterprise Architecture are well detailed.  
  2. The Expand and Contract pattern is one mechanism to get over the DB coupling the Shared Database pattern introduces.
  3. Shared database has a problem if the disparate applications all use their own caching. It becomes even more complex to determine when applications aren't looking at the latest data. 
  4. Even though ReST is generally stateless from the client's perspective, the resources have state and therefor using ETag is a good idea.  Consideration should also be given to use 409 / 412 HTTP status codes when clients are using the wrong version of the Resource.
  5. In a classical layered architecture, an open layer is one that can be by-passed e.g. Service Layer.  However, having too many open layers completely defeats the purpose of a layered architecture.
  6. Different patterns in Event Driven Architectures:
    • Event processor / Mediator topology: Useful when ordering is required, achieved through orchestration
    • Broker topology: No central mediator, custom process components receive events directly
  7. Long running feature branches are anti-thetical to CI.  In my own humble opinion this is another reason why if you want to really to do CI use a tool that is good for branching  / merging - GIT. 
  8. Dierzler's law this is an excellent application architecture which reminds people not to be fooled by the initial illusions of progress in rapid prototyping.   The user wants a full solution and doing a full solution is more difficult than the initial stages.  I really believe anyone involved with rapid prototyping, hackathons or any form agile development should know this law inside out / upside down. 
  9. The Anti Corruption layer is a good pattern to use a facade / adapter approach to hide away bad legacy code.
Mark Richards
A common theme throughout the course, is no matter what the architecture or technology you need to be prepared to change it and that means you need to be careful to get the level of coupling right.  I would add to that an architecture that has a lot of tight coupling will struggle to deal with technical debt because if you need to fix one little part you impact everything. 

So any criticisms?  Well not much.  Perhaps some of the explanations are too abstract. For example, the Space architecture would be better explained with more specfics using a NoSql database to achieve the data splits. Other than that, there are large amounts dedicated to soft skills.  While I don't doubt these to be important, you can get a lot of this by having a cup of coffee with a decent project manager or development manager and personally I prefer the technical stuff.  Overall it's a great series for an into to software architecture and perhaps it would be nice to see a follow up with more deep diving.  I would suspect that is exactly what the follow up series Software Architecture Fundamentails Beyond the Basics entails

Lastly, although this tutorial series is primarily aimed at Developers who want to be (or have become) Architects, I think anyone involved with any sort of SDLC can benefit from it.  Project, Dev Managers and Product Owners should all understand Dietzler's law for example.

  1.  Software Architecture Patterns   
  2.  Software Architecture Fundamentals - Neil Ford PDF  
  3.  Software Architecture Fundamentals beyond the basics

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