Hitchhiker's Guide to Software Architecture and Everything Else - by Michael Stal

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Architect's Book Corner

A software architect as mentioned in one of my previous posts should keep herself/himself knowledgeable about all important topics in this area. One way is to attend courses, conferences, and trainings. But often can we afford to spend a couple of days for attending such an event? Another way is to read relevant books. The problem with the latter approach is that there are so many books on software architecture. So, which ones should we read? Here are some recommendations, a list of my favorites. Please, keep in mind that this list is subjective and incomplete. And, I have constrained myself on english literature. So, you might definitely ask some other architects for their book recommendations.

General books on software architecture:

  • Software Architecture in Practice ( http://tinyurl.com/qm2dl ) by Bass, Clements, Kazman introduces software architecture and also reveals in-depth perspectives. A must-read if you ask me.
  • Beyond Software Architecture: Creating and Sustaining Winning Solutions (http://tinyurl.com/r3ls5 ) by Luke Hohmann does not focus on software architecture technology but also on related issues that influence software architecture.
  • Product-Line Engineering has become an important topic for software engineers: Jan Bosch is my personal guru on this subject: Design and Use of Software Architectures (http://tinyurl.com/mffo8 ).


  • Design Patterns: Elements of Reusable Object-Oriented Software (http://tinyurl.com/nq8yq ) is the seminal book on design patterns by Gamma, Helm, Johnson, Vlissides. For me the content of the book comprised mandatory knowledge for every software architect.
  • Our own POSA series extended the GoF book by architecture patterns, added a new documentation form, and also covered software architecture in more detail. Volume 1 (http://tinyurl.com/qk87n ) focuses on general patterns. One comment: I don't like when people call volume 1 the Buschmann book as all authors were contributing equally. The order of author names is structured lexicographically. For instance, I wrote more patterns than anyone else. Thus, call it the POSA 1 book to respect the "et al" in "Buschmann et al" :-). Volume 2 (http://tinyurl.com/rge3o ) concentrates on patterns for concurrent and networked systems. Volume 3 (http://tinyurl.com/qcvgv ) covers resource management. Expect more to come in the near future.
  • In Remoting patterns (http://tinyurl.com/prnnz ) and Server Component Patterns (http://tinyurl.com/q9a52 ) you'll find some basic ingredients for remoting middleware and application servers.
  • For messaging middleware the book you should read is Enterprise Integration Patterns : Designing, Building, and Deploying Messaging Solutions. By Gregor Hohpe and Bobby Woolfe. (http://tinyurl.com/q2xea ).
  • Analysis patterns are more on the domain-level. Another excellent book by Martin Fowler (http://tinyurl.com/m2nfm ).
  • For Java EE developers the Core J2EE Patterns book provides essential best ptactices for daily work (http://tinyurl.com/mvtbn ).
  • .NET programmers can obtain similar books through http://tinyurl.com/rfyw9 .
Model-Based and Aspect-Oriented Software Development:

  • As soon as Markus' book on MDSD is available in english I can wholeheartedly recommend to read it (as I've read the german edition): http://tinyurl.com/q9a52 .
  • Software factories extend MDSD by mapping industrial production paradigms to software engineering. Written by some prominent people such as Jack Greenfield the book on software factories is excellent: http://tinyurl.com/ntec6 .
  • Generative Programming: Methods, Tools, and Applications was written by Uli Eisenecker and Krzysztof Czarnecki, two friends of mine. Excellent book on generative programming but contains very complex C++-based stuff (http://tinyurl.com/obxqn ).
  • In Aspect-Oriented Analysis and Design AOP is considered from a more architectural approach (http://tinyurl.com/o3o2v ).

Process-related issues are important for a software architect. Here are some books on my list:

  • Martin Fowler wrote THE book on refactoring which was entitled Refactoring: Improving the Design of Existing Code (http://tinyurl.com/r6s5z )
  • An new one is Joshua Kerievsky's Refactoring to Patterns which introduces pattern-based refactoring (http://tinyurl.com/qam9h ).
  • Test-Driven Development was introduced by Kent Beck whom all of you might know as the "father" of eXtreme Programming (http://tinyurl.com/ot8k3 ).

Modelling and Engineering Process:

  • UML 2.0 in a Nutshell is compact and nonetheless offers a complete overview.(http://tinyurl.com/pasyk ).
  • You need a lightweight overview of the Unified Process. Here is the way to go (http://tinyurl.com/q7xul ).
  • Extreme Programming Explained : Embrace Change (2nd Edition) by Kent Beck is the source for learning eXtreme Programming (http://tinyurl.com/rwcmn ).
  • Ken Schwaber and Mike Beedle in Agile Software Development with SCRUM tell you all to know about SCRUM (http://tinyurl.com/o7cer ).
  • Agile development in general was perfectly described by Alistair Cockburn in Agile Software Development (http://tinyurl.com/raghe ).
  • Requirements Engineering is often treated with unsufficient care. Thus, read the book Requirements Engineering (http://tinyurl.com/qeald ).
  • The bible of writing good use cases? No question. This is definitely Alistair Cockburn's Writing Effective Use Cases (http://tinyurl.com/m5tq2 ).
  • CMMI is widely desribed and explained in CMMI : Guidelines for Process Integration and Product Improvement (http://tinyurl.com/p9xsm ).

Domain Driven Design could also be placed into the category of pattern books. I think, it should stand alone as it introduces the new idea of domain languages in an outstanding way

OO and more

  • The magic of components. Clemens wrote the seminal book on this topic. Some years old but still worth reading: Component Software: Beyond Object-Oriented Programming (http://tinyurl.com/pyo4u ).
  • Effective Java by Joshua Bloch is also a good lecture for C# gurus: http://tinyurl.com/pyo4u .
  • One of my favorites on Concurrent Programming: Doug Lea's Concurrent Programming in Java(TM): Design Principles and Patterns (http://tinyurl.com/ok4nd ) .
  • On Service-Oriebted Software Architecture there are no really ubiquitous books. Read my articles on this subject (http://www.stal.de). As an intro I recommend Thomas Erl: Service-Oriented Architecture : A Field Guide to Integrating XML and Web Services (http://tinyurl.com/n5oxw ).
  • Interested in all these lightweight containers? Read the book by the fathers of Spring, Expert One-on-One J2EE Development without EJB (http://tinyurl.com/lrvne ).
  • They have published widely accepted books on Ruby and Programming. But all their other books are also worth reading. The Pragmatic Programmers is a source for excellent and pragmatic books: http://www.pragmaticprogrammer.com/.


  • Last but not least. It should be mandatory for computer science students to read authors like: Scott Adams (Dilbert), Douglas Adams (Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy), Tom Demarco, and Terry Pratchett (Discworld). Not to forget Stanislaw Lem who recently died. I also consider Star Trek as a foundation which implies you should also read the literature on physics (such as Feynman). But let me stop here :-)

All these books are books I've read in the last years. I recommend them personally. No, I won't get any fees from the publishers or authors. If you like to add some of your personal favorites, please, do so using the possibility to write comments.


  • Hi Michael,

    A very good list! But I miss two books that I think fit. I'm thinking about Fowler's PoEAA and Evans' DDD. Your take?

    Bset Regards,

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:58 AM  

  • Dear Jimmy,

    thanks for the input. Eric Evans is already cited (Domain Driven Design).
    Martin's Patterns of Enterprise Application Architecture I left out as some of the patterns are also available in Core J2EE Patterns, Enterprise Solution Patterns Using .NET, and other pattern books. However, Martin is an outstanding author. Thus, all of his books are recommendable. Here's the amazon.com link: http://tinyurl.com/owkgo

    -- Michael

    By Blogger Michael, at 8:35 PM  

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