Conway’s law suggests that “organizations which design systems … are constrained to produce designs which are copies of the communication structures of these organizations.” The reverse of this is also true – once a design is in place, it will be a drag on attempts to change the communication structures of the organization. The question is how do we break this chicken and egg situation and enable change to designs that already exist. The answer is to think about architecture in a new way – one that can be inspired from the true nature of design patterns.

In the Agile space our architectures are not intended to encompass all possible changes – that would be a gross over-design. Instead, they are intended to evolve and accommodate change as new requirements are discovered. When viewed from the Agile perspective we can see that design patterns and architecture are related in that both are about accommodating change over time.

This talk presents design patterns as a way of thinking about the problems to be solved. Design patterns are intended to enable us to encapsulate variation in a system (be it an algorithm, an object structure, the order of execution, …). In the Agile world, this variation often occurs over time as we learn new information about what we are required to do. This enables us to design code that can evolve. Patterns should be viewed as a thought process that enables emergent design as well as emergent architectures.

The talk concludes with an analysis method that facilitates the discovery of these abstractions. This reveals the full solution – design to accommodate change by discovering and attending to the abstractions in your problem. The thought process of patterns is used to illustrate how this can be done at all levels.

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