The lost art of software design
September 7, 2022 3:15 PM
“Big design up front is dumb. Doing no design up front is even dumber.” This quote epitomises what I’ve seen during our journey from “big design up front” in the 20th century, to “emergent design” and “evolutionary architecture” in the 21st. In their desire to become “agile”, many teams seem to have abandoned architectural thinking, upfront design, documentation, diagramming, and modelling. In many cases, this is a knee-jerk reaction to the heavy bloated processes of times past, and in others, it’s a misinterpretation and misapplication of the agile manifesto. As a result, many of the software design activities I witness these days are very high-level and superficial in nature. The resulting output, typically an ad hoc sketch on a whiteboard, is usually ambiguous and open to interpretation, leading to a situation where the underlying solution can’t be communicated, assessed, or reviewed.
If you’re willing to consider that upfront design is about creating a sufficient starting point, rather than creating a perfect end-state, you soon realise that a large amount of the costly rework and “refactoring” seen on many software development teams can be avoided.
Join me for a discussion about the lost art of software design, and how we can reintroduce it to help teams scale and move faster.