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Language-Based Architectural Control

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journal contribution
posted on 01.07.2014, 00:00 by Jonathan Aldrich, Cyrus Omar, Alex Potanin, Du Li

Software architects design systems to achieve quality attributes like security, reliability, and performance. Key to achieving these quality attributes are design constraints governing how components of the system are configured, communicate and access resources. Unfortunately, identifying, specifying, communicating and enforcing important design constraints – achieving architectural control – can be difficult, particularly in large software systems.

We argue for the development of architectural frameworks, built to leverage language mechanisms that provide for domain-specific syntax, editor services and explicit control over capabilities, that help increase architectural control. In particular, we argue for concise, centralized architectural descriptions which are responsible for specifying constraints and passing a minimal set of capabilities to downstream system components, or explicitly entrusting them to individuals playing defined roles within a team. By integrating these architectural descriptions directly into the language, the type system can help enforce technical constraints and editor services can help enforce social constraints. We sketch our approach in the context of distributed systems.

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01/07/2014