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Saturday
Oct102009

Vive la différence...

Tom Graves has summarised the differing roles of architects and designers in his blog What’s the difference between architecture and design?.  It is an ongoing irritation to me that the two are confused.  This not only devalues both disciplines, it has serious and deleterious effect on the quality of solutions delivered.

An architect as Tom states "faces towards strategy, structure and purpose, towards the abstract", the role is about ensuring we do the right thing.  The designer "faces towards implementation and practice, towards the concrete", ensuring we do it right.

In 1990, Mitch Kapor delivered his Software Design Manifesto.  He appealed for "design" to get the recognition it deserved as a critical profession in the creation of software solutions.  I thing we have gone part way there.  We have recognized, even if often misunderstood, the discipline of enterprise architecture.  We recognize, but have little formal method, the act of solution architecture.  But we still do not really recognize or train people in design.  In my opinion, we seem to have gone backwards in training people in the logical technology independent fundamentals of good software design.  Rather, we have encouraged technology obsession and limited the careers of good designers and architects.

For those who don't remember or don't know, Mitch is one of the fathers of the modern computing era, he was a founder of Lotus Development Corporation and the designer of Lotus 1-2-3, the "killer application" which made the personal computer ubiquitous in the business world in the 1980s.

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Reader Comments (3)

I believe it will take a generation before the role of the Architect will break free from the traditional role of the senior developer. All to often architects continue to focus on implementation instead of planning for the future.

October 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterTP

Love the quote - An architect as Tom states "faces towards strategy, structure and purpose, towards the abstract", the role is about ensuring we do the right thing. The designer "faces towards implementation and practice, towards the concrete", ensuring we do it right.

I've always been a "do the right thing" guy...guess that's why I ended up in EA.

November 18, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterBrian Hopkins

Perhaps we should not be trying to differentiate between architecture and design as both words (if used in a verb sense) have very similar underlying theme: art and science of creating "something" (replace "something" with whatever your focus is). I suggest that it would be more appropriate to differentiate on the focus that a particular design activity has: Is it about capability or about solution? See my post How many architectures do you see? for more details.

It seems that Mich has opted to use word "design" when talking about solution focus

... for "design" to get the recognition it deserved as a critical profession in the creation of software solutions

Whenever "architects" delegate to "designers" to fill in the details, we end up a on a slipper slope. In reality those "designers" are actually creating solution and even capability architectures, so we might as well recognise that and demand that they actually think and behave like architects.

May 11, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDarko Bohinc

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