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Jens Schauder

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

How do you become a 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 Software I’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’re 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 than 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?

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Stephen McConnell
Stephen McConnell
6 years ago

Where I work, being a software architect also means understanding the hardware AND understanding how the company works and how revenue is generated. We work a lot with mobile apps, streaming video and video encoding, large scale databases, SQL and NoSQL databases, VIPs and cloud development.

The above list is a good start, but depending upon the company, it expands way beyond that and constantly grows each day.

5 years ago

Are you kidding? I don’t know any software developer or architect who actually speaks german.

Luiz Gustavo
Luiz Gustavo
2 years ago

Regarding software documentation, I guess this book can be a valuable english alternative to the first german sugestion:

Documenting Software Architectures: Views and Beyond, Second Edition