Software Architect Involves a Lot of Drawing Boxes…

… and waving your arms around. Bob Rhubart in his May/June Oracle Magazine article more seriously argues the role it was about communication. Some listening but a lot of explaining.

Rhubart also suggests the software architect role is little understood. This isn’t surprising often the role depends on the personality of the person doing the role and the characteristics of the company in which they work.

Software Architecture (or Technical Design Authority as it was called when I was training) in a large technical organisation such as Fujitsu, BT and Oracle is very much focused on designing new solution to a set of requirements and documenting.  At News International the Architect in effect decided if the project could go ahead by designing a solution that was costed and sent to New York for the financing. When I designed a new version of MySun for 2010 UK elections I spoke to the chaps in The Sun newspaper once and all my explanations was poured into a single document which was read by another architect signed off and probably never read again.

In smaller or project focused companies the architect get the chance to deliver the project, either coupling the role with business analysis or lead developer. There is heaps of communications in a role like this. The excellent architect at Iris Digital who created my recent London 20212 mascot web based games was constantly communicating between me the client our hosting suppliers and his own creative teams. Weekly detailed phone calls, documents and answering questions on email, this architect was certainly explaining a whole lot as Rhubart puts it.

In the end it all depends on personality of the person. The worst architects are always the ones who refuse to explain the solution, don’t make the time or worse assume the audience is too stupid to understand. It is sad but I see this happen far too often.

Thankfully there are great software architects out there and whatever style of software architect they may be, it won’t be long before you see them describing their solutions by drawing lots of boxes or waving their arms to show their latest creation.

Enterprise Architect for the Mac

I adore Enterprise Architect. I have used a vast array of tools for software and network modeling  but none make me as happy as opening up Enterprise Architect. Partly it is because I love UML. However I take a lot of ‘stick’ for this adoration. My friends often mock me suggesting I will one day draw diagrams for getting us all a drink in a brewery. I can’t help it. Once,  while working with a design agency on a paid pitch for the iPlayer interface, I was asked if the stick men could wear outfits.

I am now a Mac user and am porting across my copy of Enterprise Architect. First I have had to install Wine using WineBottler. A double installer. Jolly clever. I dragged the wine box into the folder and then the glass of wine. A nice boy on the YouTube said that I could have dragged both together.

Once done there should be a ‘Wine Box’ icon in the application folder and a glass of wine near the wireless bars. Download the Enterprise Architect exe file and execute it. Wine will kick in, ask a few questions and install it for you.

To run the application, so far I have just used the wine glass and opened up a “File Manager” traversed down to the application folder got cracking. Probably heaps nicer ways but I must get to work on my model before my client complains.