Steering Agile Architecture

Arkitektur & Design Agile

"Emerge your architecture" goes the agile mantra. That's great. Developers get empowered and fluffy papers make room for real code structure. But, how do you ensure the cohesiveness of the result? Yes, testing, code reviews or patterns are useful tools. But, the challenge of working with software systems stems from their sheer size and their continuously shape changing nature. Keeping track of what goes on in the system at all times is critical. This is not a course about good or bad architecture. It's a course about knowing the real architecture of your software system, and choosing how to steer based on that reality.

The architecture of the system is important and it deserves special attention because it is too easy for it to go wrong in the long run, and it is too expensive when that happens. In this course, we take a systematic look at what architecture is, and we detail a method of approaching the challenge of steering it on a daily basis through:

  • making architectural concerns explicit
  • crafting automated checkers
  • agreeing on findings
  • distilling corrective actions

This approach requires the team to build custom tools and use them to guide decisions actively. This requires new skills and an appropriate technical infrastructure. However, this is a technical detail. The critical benefit comes from making architectural decisions explicit, and from the daily actions of cleaning the state of the system.


Steering agile architecture is a challenge regardless of the type of system or chosen architecture and it should concern everyone involved in building the system. That is why, this course is targeted to both engineers and managers. We cover the multiple facets of the process, and we accompany the conceptual descriptions with real life examples from multiple case studies.

Sample visuals

Course content

The course tackles three parts in a non-linear fashion guided by live interactions with the audience.

1. Approaching architecture

  • Brief introduction in software architecture:
    • The value of architecture
    • The cost of architecture
    • Paper architecture vs. real architecture
    • Who should care about architecture?
    • Architecture and architects
    • Architecture and requirements
    • Architecture and testing
    • Architecture and pair programming
    • Architecture and code review
    • Architecture and code reading
  • Architecture and agility:
    • Architecture as an emergent property
    • Emergent properties and complex (as different from complicated) games

2. Growing architecture

  • Architecture and technical debt:
    • Architecture and quality
    • The benefits and limitations of the technical debt metaphor
    • Beyond technical debt: software habitability as a positive metaphor
  • Architecture as a collaboration:
    • Architecture as a commons
    • Architecture as a work in progress
    • Architecture as a negotiation
    • Small fixes and long term goals
  • The daily assessment game:
    • The roles: stakeholder and facilitator
    • Integrating daily assessment in the development process
    • Dealing with the queue of technical tasks
    • Examples of daily group decisions and actions

3. Exposing architecture

  • Detecting architecture drifts:
    • The limited impact of out-of-the-box detections
    • The need for contextual detection
    • Testing architecture
    • Hypothesizing and the humane assessment method of crafting custom tools during development
    • Examples of custom detections and experiments
  • Software analysis 101:
    • Overview of what software analysis is and how it helps software architecture
    • How developers already unknowingly know software analysis
    • Code as data
    • Beyond basic code structure: annotations, configurations, tests etc.
    • How to think of analyses: static vs. dynamic, history vs. one version, code vs. bytecode, metrics vs. queries vs. visualizations
    • Combining analyses
    • Custom analyses
    • Software analysis vs. software assessment
    • Examples of analyses


09:00 - 16:15


Software Architecture

Agile Development

Group Decision Making

Software Assessment

Software Analysis



Refactoring & Re-engineering