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Documenting Software Architectures: Views and Beyond (SEI Series in Software Engineering) Hardcover – 26 Sep 2002

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 560 pages
  • Publisher: Addison Wesley; 1 edition (26 Sept. 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0201703726
  • ISBN-13: 978-0201703726
  • Product Dimensions: 16.6 x 3.6 x 24.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,294,261 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Product Description

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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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By "adriaan_brand" on 15 Jan. 2003
Format: Hardcover
The book is written primarily for software architects and technical writers (with respect to software architecture). And for that, I like it. The book provides great insight on documenting software architectures and best practices like the "7 rules for sound documentation". I found it especially good on using multiple views and how to write readable and understandable documentation.
I think (experienced) software architects working on complex projects will like this book. I don't think it is suitable for beginners.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Mark Liversedge on 17 Dec. 2003
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Don't get me wrong the book is good, the discussion of numerous views, styles is great and it provokes a lot of structured thinking, it's a book I would recommend.
BUT, it could have been so much better... (hence only 4 stars)
1. Needs more example models & diagrams, a picture is worth 1000 words.
2. It should be about modelling not documenting, but hey that IS the title of the book!
3. The final section that discusses the views proposed by RUP, siemens, ODP etc are clearly an afterthought as they don't really tell you much and are so 'standalone'.
4. Amazingly there is no discussion of frameworks.
5. The MDA paradigm isn't even touched upon - a major ommission IMHO.
Ultimately though it's the best book I've read on the subject, just left me with half the answer...
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0 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Carlo Marcoli on 2 Nov. 2008
Format: Hardcover
I didn't find the book very useful...or enjoyable to read. If you are new to architecture you may want to read something with a broader scope. If you are experienced in the field you are probably already familiar with the views and techniques presented.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 8 reviews
42 of 44 people found the following review helpful
The best to date 22 Jun. 2004
By wiredweird - Published on
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. Those can be major undertakings of their own. They are intimately tied to the delivered software, and may constrain the actual product.
On the postivie side, this book offer an extensive real-world case study. That probably doubles the book's value, by putting a concrete face on the otherwise abstract discussion.
There are two ways to use this book: you can agree with it, or think about it and disagree with it. If you really think about it, though, you get it's full value whether you agree or not.
In other words, you can't lose by reading this book.
40 of 43 people found the following review helpful
Should be an establish standard for documenting 7 Oct. 2002
By Mike Tarrani - Published on
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.
Another strong point about this book is the attention paid to managing the documentation process - it's one thing to write clear documentation and quite another to manage a process where many writers contribute to the documentation. I also liked the illustration examples, which epitomize how to effectively portray technical detail, and the discussion of other methods of documenting architecture.
In my opinion this book should become the standard for developing and managing documentation. It belongs on the desk of every technical writer and on the bookshelf of every architect and designer. I waited a year for this book and it was well worth the wait.
38 of 42 people found the following review helpful
The only technical documentation book you'll need 27 Oct. 2002
By Linda Zarate - Published on
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.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
A master guide on Architecture Documentation 26 July 2010
By Juan Gomez - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Documentation is one of the main duties of a Software Architect. A master design, poorly documented, will most probably be poorly implemented. This book is an excellent guide to create long lasting documentation that effectively conveys your design and helps guides your project from conception all the way to maintenance.

It gives great insight on how to successfully target your different audiences and explains in a clear and concise way a lot of the terminology used in the most widely adopted architectural styles.. The way the documentation packages are explained and organized creates a convenient and easy to follow catalog, allowing your stakeholders to employ your documentation as a reference that they keep visiting over and over again throughout the entire life-cycle of your project.

The book is also organized in a way that it can be used as a reference book by the Architect or as a documentation companion for developers and business users; there are different "paths" through the book, targeted to different audiences and conveniently outlined on the preface.

I can't wait for the second edition to come out! (already pre-ordered)
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
The best thinking on documenting software architecture 22 Jan. 2007
By geekwisdom - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Simply put, I think this book represents the best thinking about documenting software architectures. You can find other books that include different aspects covered in this book (documenting views, 4+1, ANSI/IEEE-1471-2000, etc). However, you will have a hard time finding a book that pulls it all together, provides the rationale and includes the "beyond" part which discusses other approaches to documenting software architectures and how they relate to the "Views and Beyond" (V&B) approach. For instance, the book discusses how to use V&B to comply with ANSI/IEEE-1471-2000.
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