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Attribute-Based Architectural Styles

October 1999 Technical Report
Mark H. Klein, Rick Kazman

This report establishes a common format for documenting ABASs in the hope that they will become the foundation for anyone who is doing system design and analysis.


Software Engineering Institute

CMU/SEI Report Number



An architectural style is a description of component types and their topology. It also includes a description of the pattern of data and control interaction among the components and an informal description of the benefits and drawbacks of using that style. Architectural styles are important engineering artifacts because they define classes of designs along with their associated known properties. They offer experience-based evidence of how each class has been used historically, along with qualitative reasoning to explain why each class has its specific properties. 

Attribute-Based Architectural Styles (ABASs) build on architectural styles to provide a foundation for more precise reasoning about architectural design by explicitly associating a reasoning framework (whether qualitative or quantitative) with an architectural style. These reasoning frameworks are based on quality attribute-specific models, which exist in the various quality attribute communities (such as the performance and reliability communities). 

Architectural styles, and hence ABASs, are powerful because they provide a designer with the concentrated wisdom of many preceding designers faced with similar problems. In this report we exemplify the use of ABASs in both design and analysis. We argue that ABASs provide the groundwork to create an engineering discipline of architectural design to make design a predictable process rather than an ad hoc one.