Thursday, January 25, 2018

Architecture is about all the nouns

People, organization, technology, and processes. They're nouns.

These are the nouns that makes an architecture succeed.  A good architect can design a beautiful building (a thing).  But a great one will design a building that also works well in its environment.

As a software architect, I've had to learn this the hard way.  It's not just about making the technology (another thing) do what it needs from scratch in a green field.  It's about making it easy to transition from the way it was done to a better way, a more efficient way.

The very first XDS implementations listed documents for patients and gave people a way to search for documents and list them out in various orders on the screen, and view them.  This is the way processes (ideas) at that time often worked worked, because documents were "different" from data. 

Today, we use XDS (and its variants) in all kinds of different ways, where the document is simply payload for other activity and where the views of what was communicated in the document as shown by the user interface is many and varied, and sometimes completely under the covers.  This is architecture that not only fits into its environment, but one which improves it significantly.

XDS worked so well in part because it enabled people to work in familiar ways (using existing processes) at the same time as it enabled existing processes.  It also worked well because it enabled NEW processes to be developed that could be delivered over time.  It overcame objection to change because it eliminated steps, rather than adding new ones or changing existing ones.  It also worked WITH the technology that already existed.

Understanding the people, the organizations and their processes is just as critical to making technology work as understanding the technology.



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