Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Yes Virginia, There is an Architecture

We take pleasure in answering thus prominently the communication below, expressing at the same time our great gratification that its faithful author is numbered among the friends of The Enterprise Architecture Blog and note that responses of this nature have been produced as far back as 1897 (Example here, back story here).

Dear Enterprise Architecture,

I am old. Some of my friends say there is no architecture, only code. Manager says, "If you see it in a blog, it's so." Please tell me the truth; is there an architecture?

Virginia O'Hanlon

Dear Virginia,

Virginia, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age and too many vendor meetings. They do not believe except what they code. They think that nothing can be which is not coded first, and then refactored for bugs later. All minds, Virginia, whether they be programmers or analysts are too little to comprehend user-requirements without a design based on the truth, knowledge, and principles of architecture.

Yes, Virginia, there is always an architecture. It exists as certainly as performance and reliability and flexibility exist, and you know that they abound and give to your annual evaluation its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no architecture. It would be as dreary as if there were no Virginias. There would be no consumer confidence then, no resiliency, no elegant simplicity to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in melodic pager tones and emergency-fix conference calls.

Not believe in Architecture! You might as well not believe in quality, or predictability, or even extensibility! You might get your manager to hire others to watch all the help desk calls to look for one that reads, "The architecture is broken", but even if they did not see architecture mentioned, what would that prove? Users never see architecture, but that is no sign that there is no architecture. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see flexibility dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that's no proof that it's not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.

You may tear apart a web page and see what makes it work; the HTML, CSS, Script, and graphics, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived, could tear apart. Only design, planning, best practices, elegance, standards, tools, patterns, libraries, and frameworks, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, Virginia, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding.

No Architecture! Thank God! it exists, and will forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay, ten times ten thousand years from now, architecture will continue to make glad the heart of users.

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