Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Video review: "Software Architecture Fundamentals Part 1 Understanding the Basics"

Review for "Software Architecture Fundamentals, part 1  Understanding the Basics"
By Neal Ford, Mark Richards
Published by O'Reilly

Understanding the Basics

This video series covers architectural issues.  The videos are presented as a small room lecture, headed by Neal Ford and Mark Richards.  (I hadn't heard of Richards before, Ford I knew from the software conference speaking circuit.)  The subjects covered are listed below.

Architecture Soft Skills Part 1 
Continuous Delivery
Architecture Soft Skills Part 2
Understanding Large Codebases  
Architecting for Change  
Architecture Patterns Part 1  
Architecture Patterns Part 2  
Design Patterns
Architecture Anti-Patterns Part 1  
Architecture Anti-Patterns Part 2  
Tooling and Documentation 
Integration Architecture Fundamentals 
Enterprise Architecture Concepts and Fundamentals

Some of these are short (20 minutes or so), others can go over 40 minutes.  I used a video player that allowed me to control the speed of playback so I could go faster or slower depending on my perceived mastery of the topic.  I liked this.

Ford and Richards both spoke in a clear and straightforward manner.  It's obvious that both are experienced in the topic of software architecture, and they had plenty of valuable tips and insights.  For the most part, the conversations were interesting.  Each talk was accompanied by slideshow bullet points, these were always legible and well put together.  There was a live audience of a few people present at the taping, these people would occasionally ask a question of the speakers.  All things considered, the presentation is excellent.

The knowledge provided is mostly useful information.  A few times the speakers went into territory I consider a little unrealistic, but perhaps this is just my bias formed from years of working in fairly sedentary environments.  (Ford is well-known for lectures about polyglot programming, which I've always considered an immature move towards 'playing with new toys', but your mileage may vary.)   The parts of the lecture I discounted were few, so this should not be considered a harsh criticism.

The parts of the lecture I found most interesting were those that dealt with version control schemes, build techniques, and documentation.  I haven't seen a lot of other material about these topics, so I found the ideas presented of interest.  These parts weren't necessarily better than the others, just topics I found of interest.  I've been a certified architect for over a decade (and a practicing one before that), so I wasn't surprised by some of the other material.  That's not to say there was nothing to learn, just that not all of it was new to me.  What is new might differ for you, based on the career you've had.

At one point Richards claims there are 52 states in the USA, 2 more than proper but 6 less than counted by some politicians.  That's about the only egregeous error I've found in the series.

So, what's the verdict?  I consider these videos well worth the time spent watching.  I took notes on each chapter so I could improve my personal 'bag of tricks', leveraging the experience of these accomplished architects.  Given the high cost of experience, the price of this video series is a bargain.

 Happy Viewing!