Chapter 1. Introduction

The job “software architect” appears near the top of numerous lists of best jobs across the world. Yet when readers look at the other jobs on those lists (like nurse practitioner or finance manager), there’s a clear career path for them. Why is there no path for software architects?

First, the industry doesn’t have a good definition of software architecture itself. When we teach foundational classes, students often ask for a concise definition of what a software architect does, and we have adamantly refused to give one. And we’re not the only ones. In his famous whitepaper “Who Needs an Architect?” Martin Fowler famously refused to try to define it, instead falling back on the famous quote:

Architecture is about the important stuff…whatever that is.

Ralph Johnson

When pressed, we created the mindmap shown in Figure 1-1, which is woefully incomplete but indicative of the scope of software architecture. We will, in fact, offer our definition of software architecture shortly.

Second, as illustrated in the mindmap, the role of software architect embodies a massive amount and scope of responsibility that continues to expand. A decade ago, software architects dealt only with the purely technical aspects of architecture, like modularity, components, and patterns. Since then, because of new architectural styles that leverage a wider swath of capabilities (like microservices), the role of software architect has expanded. We cover the many intersections of architecture ...

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