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You Want to Become a Software Architect? Here is Your Reading List!

06.30.2014
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How do you become an Software Architect? Well, I guess the best way would be to do about two dozen very different projects in different roles, with as many different technologies as possible. This would guarantee that you get a lot of experience with different approaches and challenges which certainly would provide you with a lot of the stuff you need to know to fill the role of an architect.

Unfortunately in the real world this is hard to accomplish. Often the next project uses similar technologies and strategies as the last one, also project owners for some reason don’t like it when you use their projects as a training ground. So we need an alternative way of learning, where we can learn from the mistakes made by others, instead of learning from our own.

Here is a list of books I’d recommend for anybody wanting to become a Software Architect (in no special order):

Akka Concurrency: This one is an odd one in the list. Akka is an actor framework for the JVM, written in Scala, but also usable in Java. I recommend it because it is a very different approach of structuring your code than the “normal” Java way.

Domain-Driven Design: Tackling Complexity in the Heart of SoftwareI’m sure you have heard the term Domain Driven Design, right? If not: the basic idea is to structure your application based on the problem domain. Sound simple and obvious? As usual the devil is in the detail.

Softwarearchitekturen dokumentieren und kommunizieren: Entwürfe, Entscheidungen und Lösungen nachvollziehbar und wirkungsvoll festhalten. Sorry, recommending a German book in an english blog. I just don’t know an English alternative. Although we learned that documentation is not as important as working software, documentation still is important, and this book will teach you a lot about how to document your architecture in a pragmatic way.

Effektive Softwarearchitekturen: Ein praktischer Leitfaden Another German one. (Sorry). A good overview about what belongs in an Architecture and what influences you need to take into account.

Specification by Example: How Successful Teams Deliver the Right Software At least in my book, architecture work also means part of your task is to bring your team together on one page. The ideas from this book will help you to bring analysts, testers and developers together. Again the idea is simple but executing it can become tough, since you are not dealing with code so much, but with people.

Bridging the Communication Gap: Specification by Example and Agile Acceptance Testing Same author, same basic topic. The title is better, because in the end it is not so much about the specification of your system, but about communication.

ATDD by Example: A Practical Guide to Acceptance Test-Driven Development (Addison-Wesley Signature Series (Beck)) One more about testing. This one talks more about technical issues when using ATDD, which by the way has a huge overlap with Specification by Example.

Vorgehensmuster für Softwarearchitektur: Kombinierbare Praktiken in Zeiten von Agile und Lean This is the last German one in the List. I promise. When you moving from Development to Architecture you’ll have to work more with people, which at least for me makes things way more difficult, because a solution that worked yesterday might not work today. This book gives you many alternative strategies to try.

Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs (Mit Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Series) This one was a real eye opener to me. On one hand it will teach you some Scheme, which might not be so interesting, because for most of us this won’t be the language we use to implement the next system. BUT it will also teach you why in many cases the functional approach is way more simple then the imperative way. If you are confused by the difference between simple and easy try watch this talk by the way.

Clean Code: A Handbook of Agile Software Craftsmanship of course an Architect is still a Developer, so he or she better knows how to code and how to code well.

REST und HTTP: Einsatz der Architektur des Web für Integrationsszenarien Oh darn, another German one slipt through. I’m still shocked how many Developers and Architects don’t know REST and why it is important and powerful. This book will fix that at least in your case.

HTTP: The Definitive Guide: The Definitive Guide (Definitive Guides)While we are at the basics of most modern Software Systems. While HTTP isn’t rocket science it certainly helps to know how it really works. This one is the Definitive Guide about the topic.

Release It!: Design and Deploy Production-Ready Software (Pragmatic Programmers) This one is just awesome. Full of stuff that can go bad in production and how to design your system so it can handle things gracefully. And fun to read too.

97 Things Every Programmer Should Know: Collective Wisdom from the Experts Again, a Software Architect is just another Developer, so if you haven’t read it yet you’ll find lots of good ideas in here.

97 Things Every Software Architect Should Know: Collective Wisdom from the Experts and even more ideas in here.

So that should keep you busy for the next month or two. Let me know what else should we read to become better Architects and Developers?

Published at DZone with permission of Jens Schauder, author and DZone MVB.

(Note: Opinions expressed in this article and its replies are the opinions of their respective authors and not those of DZone, Inc.)

Comments

Bob Stine replied on Wed, 2014/07/02 - 10:15am

RESTful Web Services, by Leonard Richardson & Sam Ruby, gives a very clear explanation of what RESTful means, with numerous examples. And it's in English. :)

Amit Shah replied on Wed, 2014/07/02 - 11:44pm

Nice collection, just that it would have been good to know the English counterparts especially for the first two.

Rick Janda replied on Thu, 2014/07/17 - 11:25am

Before any of the given books I would suggest that future Software Architects read Simon Browns "Software Architecture for Developers" https://leanpub.com/software-architecture-for-developers.  This is the best book as introduction into the role of being a software architect. It gives you the right mindset for becoming a good software architect and not a power-point or ivory tower architect.

Next would be: "Essential Software Architecture" from Ian Gorton - The best introduction book in the area of software architecture independent from actual technology stacks.

And then I would suggest a couple of books for topics that are actually architectural topics but completely ignored by a lot of software architects (with horrible long term consequences) :

"xUnit Test Patterns" by Gerard Meszaros - The reference about testing and test automation, not only unit-testing. Without solid automated tests your code base will grow exuberantly like cancer as nobody dares to do larger refactorings. 

"Continuous Delivery: Reliable Software Releases Through Build, Test, and Deployment Automation" from Jez Humble and David Farley - Project automation has become one of the keys for successful software development - it's the fast feedback loop on quality. And software quality is the main architecture issue.  

"Refactoring to Patterns" von Joshua Kerievsky - One of the best books about emerging design and the answer to the question, how the patterns come into the code without big upfront design.

And "Real World Java EE Patterns" from Adam Bien - a must read for all software architects in the Java EE world who seek for pragmatic solutions instead of academic over-engineering.

Regards,
Rick

Stefan Knobel replied on Sun, 2014/07/20 - 12:57pm in response to: Amit Shah

I'd recommend these over their German counterparts.

Documenting Software Architectures 

Software Architecture in Practice 

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