Interviews with software architects from the United States and Europe reveal influences on their design decisions and how design is captured and documented in practice.

Support for capturing architectural knowledge has been identified as an important research challenge. As the basis for an approach to recovering design decisions and capturing their rationale, we performed an expert survey in practice to gain insights into the different kinds, influence factors, and sources for design decisions and also into how they are currently captured in practice. The survey was conducted with 25 software architects, software team leads, and senior developers from 22 different companies in 10 different countries with more than 13 years of experience in software development on average. The survey confirms earlier work by other authors on design decision classification and influence factors, and also identifies additional kinds of decisions and influence factors not mentioned in previous work. In addition, we gained insight into the practice of capturing, the relative importance of different decisions and influence factors, and into potential sources for recovering decisions.

R. Weinreich, I. Groher, C. Miesbauer: An Expert Survey on Kinds, Influence Factors and Documentation of Design Decisions in Practice, Future Generation Computer Systems, Volume 47, pp. 145-160, available online December 9, 2014, published June 2015, doi:10.1016/j.future.2014.12.002.

This work has been performed as part of the Software Architecture Knowledge Management (SAKM) project.

Software Architecture Decisions in Practice