model-based architecture — what is it?

what is it?

The architecture of a design is the set of rules that ensure consistency across all of its parts. By setting out how a range of design decisions should be made across a development, it reduces the effort needed in the design of each part; and at the same time makes the design more flexible and more usable by ensuring uniformity in appropriate aspects.

Architecture isn't just the design of the large pieces. While the distinctions are somewhat arbitrary, we take design to mean creating a larger part from some smaller ones — each of which could itself be specified and given to separate people to design. Whether the pieces we're talking about are grand distributed systems composed from substantial subsystems, or whether they are little subroutines made up from a few program statements, design means working out how the smaller parts make up the bigger one.

If each piece in a big project were given to someone to design in complete isolation, the resulting complete system would look a bit incoherent. The architecture of a system is the set of guidelines followed by all the designers, making the parts coherent.

By analogy, think of the development of a large building. Each room is necessarily somewhat different in its exact shape and function, and each is designed by a separate designer. But (in a sensible building) there is a coherence of style that guides the decisions that each designer might otherwise make arbitrarily: for example, the height of the rooms, the choice of window frame. These rules make it easier to fit the parts together; they save us from having to procure hundreds of different windows, and also make life easier for the occupants.

In families of products, the architecture is crucial in ensuring different family members can readily be formed by composing the components in different configurations. The same is true in enterprise integration.

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