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A Structured Approach for Reviewing Architecture Documentation

December 2009 Technical Note
Robert Nord, Paul C. Clements, David Emery, Rich Hilliard

This technical note proposes a structured approach for reviewing architecture documentation that is centered on the documentation's stakeholders and engages them in a guided manner so as to ensure that the documentation will be ultimately useful to them.

Publisher:

Software Engineering Institute

CMU/SEI Report Number

CMU/SEI-2009-TN-030

Abstract

This technical note proposes a structured approach for reviewing architecture documentation. Given the critical importance of architecture to software project success, it follows that the architecture cannot be effective unless it is effectively captured in documentation that allows the architecture's stakeholders to understand and use the architecture in the way it was intended. The approach does not assume a particular architecture methodology or a particular architecture documentation practice, although it was conceived in the context of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) Recommended Practice for Architecture Description of Software-Intensive Systems and the SEI Views and Beyond approach to documenting software architectures. Like both of them, our approach is centered on the stakeholders of the artifact, engaging them in a focused, guided way to ensure that the documentation carries sufficient quality to enable them to do their jobs and to help them point out gaps and weaknesses. Our approach is not intended as a complete framework for architecture evaluation; rather, it is meant to be used within such a framework, when one is available.