Rebecca Parsons on evolutionary architecture

The O’Reilly Programming Podcast: How to build evolvable systems.

By Jeff Bleiel
March 22, 2018
Modern sculpture Modern sculpture (source: Pixabay)

In this episode of the O’Reilly Programming Podcast, I talk with Rebecca Parsons, chief technology officer at ThoughtWorks. She will be leading the workshop Building Evolutionary Architectures Hands-On at the O’Reilly Open Source Convention (OSCON), July 16-19, 2018, in Portland, Oregon. Parsons also is co-author (with Neal Ford and Patrick Kua) of the book Building Evolutionary Architectures.

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  • The shift in focus to evolvability rather than predictability: “When you look at the way the technology landscape is changing,” Parsons says, “trying to say you can predict any kind of technology roadmap is simply impractical.”
  • Why evolutionary systems need to be easy to understand: “How easy it is to change an architecture directly correlates with how easy it is to understand what’s happening in the system,” she says.
  • The role of fitness functions: “Fitness functions are defining what outcomes we want the architecture to achieve,” Parsons says.  “Fitness functions guide our decisions about how we are going to evolve the architecture.”
  • An advocate for diversity in the technology industry, Parsons talks about groups she has worked with, including CodeChix and Women Who Code, and the issues that women in the field continue to face. “The climate and culture in the tech industry is still not a comfortable place for women to be,” she says.  “We would like to believe as an industry that we’re a meritocracy, but we’re not. Part of the problem we’re dealing with is that women leave at a significantly greater rate than men do. We can double the number of women who come in, but if they’re leaving at a faster rate, we’re not going to make progress.”

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