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Workshop: Reviewing architectural descriptions

Monday, 18 February, 13:30 – 18:00

An architecture document, or architectural description (AD), serves as the blueprint of a software-intensive system for the project and the teams building it [IEEE 1471, DSA]. Just as no system can be successful without the right architecture, no architecture can be successful without clear, concise, useful documentation that serves its many stakeholders in a way that lets them do their jobs correctly.

Surprisingly, there has been almost no work in how to review an architectural description effectively – that is, in a way that uses available resources efficiently and that produces the most actionable results. By contrast, there has been a large body of work in reviewing architectures for fitness of purpose – see for example, [SARA] and [ATAM] – but almost no work in reviewing the carrier of architectural information. Since it is very difficult (if not impossible) to review an architecture in the absence of a high-quality documented description of it, this workshop aims at filling a serious practical need.

The aim of this workshop is to present and refine a framework for reviewing architectural descriptions and to solicit community feedback and insights on architectural description review (ADR). The framework situates reviews within a notional life cycle, and posits several uses for reviews. The framework introduces the idea of an AD question set as a purpose- and stakeholder-directed unit of an architecture review, and proposes a template for defining question sets. The work-in-progress also provides several examples of AD question sets.

The workshop will be organized to provide a brief overview of the work-in-progress framework and then open the session to discussion, comment and suggested improvements. Depending upon the amount of discussion, we will be prepared to have the participants apply the framework and their insights to construct part of an actual review for an architecture description.

Call for Participation

The workshop is open to anyone interested in architectural description reviews. The organizers hope that by presenting this material, they will gain useful reaction and insights into improving it. The current work-in-progress framework will be made available to interested participants prior to the workshop to read and react to.

The workshop will use the WICSA wiki to plan, coordinate and record results from the workshop. Interested participants are strongly encouraged to:

To join the discussion, please register on the conference wiki, and then visit the workshop wiki page.

All workshop contributions and outcomes will be available on the conference wiki during and after the workshop.

Questions to stimulate discussion:


Paul C. Clements (Software Engineering Institute)
David Emery (DSCI, Inc.)
Rich Hilliard
Robert L. Nord (Software Engineering Institute): rn(AT)sei.cmu.edu


[ATAM] R. Kazman, M. Klein, P. C. Clements, ATAM: A Method for Architecture Evaluation, CMU/SEI-2000-TR-004, Software Engineering Institute, Carnegie Mellon University, 2000.

[DSA] P. C. Clements, F. Bachmann, L. Bass, D. Garlan, J. Ivers, R. Little, R. L. Nord, and J. Stafford. Documenting Software Architectures: views and beyond. Addison Wesley, 2003.

[IEEE 1471] ISO/IEC 42010:2007 (ANSI/IEEE Std 1471:2000) Recommended Practice for Architectural Description of Software-Intensive Systems.

[SARA] H. Obbink, P. Kruchten, W. Kozaczynski, R. Hilliard, A. Ran, H. Postema, D. Lutz, R. Kazman, W. Tracz, and E. Kahane, Report on Software Architecture Review and Assessment, version 1.0, 2002, http://philippe.kruchten.com/architecture/SARAv1.pdf.

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