Cover by Savas Parastatidis, Jim Webber, Ian Robinson

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No Architecture Without Measurement

Though the Web almost always wins out against traditional middleware-driven solutions, software architecture on any platform remains a notoriously subjective discipline. Architects argue vehemently over design issues expressed using whiteboard sketches or stacks of UML diagrams. Whether a solution’s architecture is fit for purpose often depends on the sensibilities of the architect and a good measure of gut instinct based on prior experience.[168]

The Web doesn’t change any of this. A web-based system designed in the absence of careful measurements and empirical data is as likely to fail as any other solution designed without diligence. But the Web encourages the decomposition of systems into interacting services. This means it’s easy to measure and evaluate each service, as well as the entire system. Compared to traditional enterprise approaches—particularly those where integration brokers hide necessary complexity—the Web offers visibility, which supports effective planning and design.

Like any serious engineering project, building a web-based system is a diligent and disciplined endeavor. We can’t shirk our responsibilities as computer scientists; we must tackle difficult issues in distributed systems design head-on using the abstractions the Web provides. While delegating responsibility for so-called “heavy lifting” to middleware services is appealing, it’s misguided, since it encourages us to ignore fundamental design considerations and trust ...

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