Carlos Leyva

Silicon Stories

Chapter 6: Architecture

XYZ Applications

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Assuming that you have the first four layers of the stack under control, killer apps will become more straightforward to build. Straightforward does not imply easy. We are a long ways from easy, however apps will become both more powerful and delivered in previously unheard of timeframes. The focus will shift to design issues and domain expertise. It will shift from construction to creativity.

Where will these apps come from? Look around your organization at things you already do well and look to leverage that expertise in exciting new directions. Your intellectual capital lives in the wetware of your employees, in your legacy systems, and in the myths and legends of your enterprise. You are not lacking in raw materials. What’s missing is the know-how required to package and deliver these raw materials in creative ways.

XYZ Portal

By portal I mean the view that your info-spaces provide to users, both internal and external to the organization. The XYZ Portal layer must be designed in a manner that supports display device independence. This layer is the only layer that should interact with the user. Design is central to all three layers that you control but it is hypercritical to the portal layer. Usability, navigation and branding all converge here.

You cannot underestimate the importance of the portal layer. A wonderfully designed and aesthetically pleasing and scalable architecture will amount to nothing if your portal layer is lacking utility, quality copy, easy understandable navigation, pleasing graphics and a host of other features that consumers are now accustomed to vis-à-vis their experiences with some of the best sites on the web.

Building Bridges

The new urban planning concerns itself with building bridges to the future. It is a monumental task equivalent to re-building a ship at sea. There are no easy answers and no silver bullets. If you hear the song of the wires then you have no choice other than collaboration with the builders. Many are the ships that will be lost at sea, dashed upon the rocks of limited vision. The new urban planning is all about the built world of internal spaces. Software architecture underpins and instruments constructs that we have previously imagined but have been unable to realize.

Collaboration is like a love affair, it veers between admiration, desire, rejection, anxiety, contempt, rage, powerlessness, misunderstanding, not getting what you want but maybe coming nearer to knowing what you thought that might be.

—Katherine Clarke, 1999

Success awaits the master collaborators, and only them. Software architecture requires a culture of collaboration. It requires conversations that incorporate and embody many disciplines and the return of the agora. Everything converges on the centrality of human dialog. Components and commercial plumbing are building materials. In the end they will only serve to mock us if we cannot find our humanity in the songs of the wires.

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