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Daniel Mohl is a professional software engineer/architect whose interests include understanding the intricacies of various programming languages, enterprise application architecture, and how to bridge the gap between business and technology. He works with F#, C#, CoffeeScript, JavaScript, Erlang, ASP.NET MVC, WPF, WCF, Silverlight, WP7, SQL Server, etc. He is a F# MVP, C# Insider, F# Insider, blogger, speaker, and event organizer. You can follow him on twitter at www.twitter.com/dmohl. Daniel is a DZone MVB and is not an employee of DZone and has posted 30 posts at DZone. You can read more from them at their website. View Full User Profile

How to Become a Software Architect

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I often get asked by up-and-coming technologists, "what things should I be doing to work towards becoming an architect"? Of course, as is often the case when asking an architect a question, the answer is "it depends". However, I've found the following list to be a good starting point.

What items would you add or remove? What advice would you give to someone seeking to become an architect?

Here's the list that I've come up with:

  • You must continuously seek to improve. If there was one right way to do things, the role of an architect would not be needed. One obvious way to improve in the area of architecture is to read. Here are several books, in no specific order, that I have found useful in improving my skills as an architect: 
  • Learn a new programming language every one to two years. F# is a good one to start with! :)
  • Pick a focus area, but have a high-level understanding of as many technologies as possible.
  • For your focus area, start a blog and continue to expand your knowledge of that focus area with the goal of becoming an expert. 
  • Play with different technologies, programming languages, design patterns, architectures, etc. (even if it doesn’t directly help your day to day). You never know when the additional knowledge might come in handy.
  • Learn to speak in the "language" of your target audience. You have to speak to a lot of different people as an architect and each audience will have a different level of understanding of the technology. Learn to tailor your explanation in ways that each audience can understand.
  • Read blogs, watch/participate in twitter/G+, listen to podcasts, read magazines, go to user group meetings and technology conferences, speak at user group meetings and technology conferences. These things will build your knowledge, help to build your brand, and provide networking opportunities.
  • Discipline is key. Always do your best work, even if it doesn't sound like the most fun. Schedule time every day to learn something new, even if it's just 15 minutes, and don't let other priorities take over this time.
  • Start a blog (pick a technology and start blogging what you learn about it). I’ve found that the act of writing about something will cause you to have a better understanding than simply reading about it. 
  • Take advantage of “wasted time”. Always have a magazine with you to read, listen to podcasts on the way into work, etc.
  • Learn about the various tools available to help architects do their job better and more efficiently. 
  • Look at a lot of the different architectures for different projects.
  • Learn about different project management methodologies.
  • Learn about approaches for evaluating technology that can provide value to a business.

Published at DZone with permission of Daniel Mohl, author and DZone MVB. (source)

(Note: Opinions expressed in this article and its replies are the opinions of their respective authors and not those of DZone, Inc.)


Sivaprasadreddy... replied on Sun, 2013/01/20 - 9:44pm

Daniel Mohl,

Well said. The listed book are really good books and give you plenty of ideas, thoughts and ways of architecting a software system in theory.

If not all many times we may need to work on legacy codebases and applying those  "Extensible Architecture Principles" or "Best Practices" are not as simple as described in those books.

IMHO nothing beats hands on experience. I would suggest to take up a bit complex open source project like Apache Roller, JForum etc and see how it is designed, what are the good parts in that and is there anything that you can improve. Try to apply your thoughts to better that existing system. This way you can understand the real challenges of architecting a system.

Again Thanks a lot for the wonderful list of books and good thoughts which are really helpful for those who want to become Architects.

PS: After posting the comment I have observed it is in .NET Zone and the author is talking in .NET context. So you may replace Apache Roller, JForum with some cool .NET projects :-)


Daniel Mohl replied on Mon, 2013/01/21 - 8:54am

Thanks, this is a great addition to the list.

Imad Eddine replied on Mon, 2013/01/21 - 10:57am

become an MD better salary less skills upgrading than an IT nowadays.

Amit Malik replied on Thu, 2013/01/24 - 4:05am

Nice article. Thanks for posting such a wonderful post.

Rama Giri replied on Thu, 2013/01/24 - 6:06am

Excellent article, very useful for young aspiring architects.

Balamuralikrish... replied on Mon, 2013/01/28 - 5:45pm

 Very good one, Thanks for the post

Thomas Wheeler replied on Tue, 2013/01/29 - 2:23pm

Good post, and I'd like to add a resource: http://www.aosabook.org/en/index.html is an overview of the architecture and design of four dozen open source applications from the perspective of its author(s), describing lessons learned, why certain decisions were made (and how they played out), and how the software is structured. Interesting reading and very informative; you don't see this kind of information publicized often.

Ayeneh Rashad replied on Mon, 2013/09/16 - 12:15pm

I agree with all your points. I find speaking different languages to different audiences especially important. I have been in a lot of presentations where the people in the audience were not architects and the presenters would give too much technical terminology, and I found this kind of unprofessional. In my opinion, an architect should be prepared to speak in very ordinary language so anyone can understand him or her.

John Lee replied on Mon, 2014/09/15 - 5:35am

 There is a big factor for some architects and house builders using the program. In order to make a more accurate layout, and preventing casualties like fire and other things for every building. These are one of the main purpose of it. Like making the plan for entrance, proper hallways and fire exits.


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