Eben Hewitt is a principal on the architecture team at a multibillion-dollar national retail company, where he is currently focused on designing and implementing its service-oriented architecture. He is the author of the upcoming Java SOA Cookbook from O'Reilly.
A CONSOMMÉ IS AN EXTREMELY CLARIFIED BROTH, usually made with beef or veal, served as a delicate soup. A well-made consommé is perfectly clear. It is considered challenging and time-consuming to make, because there is only one way to remove the fat and other solids that cloud the broth and gain the absolute clarity the dish requires: repeated, simple, fine-grained straining. This straining again and again, this hyperconscious refining of the mixture, creates an intensely rich flavor. It's as if to taste a consommé is to taste the very essence of a thing. That is, in fact, the point of the dish.
In culinary schools in America, a simple test is administered to student chefs making consommé: the teacher drops a dime into your amber broth; if you can read the date on the dime resting at the bottom of the bowl, you pass. If you can't, you fail.
Software architecture requires a continual refinement of thought, a repeated straining of ideas until we have determined the essence of each requirement in the system. We ask, like Hamlet holding Yorick's skull, what is this thing? What are ...