J.D. Meier's Blog

Software Engineering, Project Management, and Effectiveness

November, 2008

  • J.D. Meier's Blog

    patterns & practices Performance Engineering Cheat Sheet


    We posted our patterns & practices Performance Engineering Cheat Sheet to our Application Architecture Knowledge Base on CodePlex.   It’s a bird’s-eye view of applying our performance techniques to the life cycle.  The techniques and approach shipped with VSTS/MSF Agile starting in 2005.

    Performance Engineering Overlay
    Here’s a view that overlays our key performance techniques alongside common software engineering activities:


    Key Activities in the Life Cycle
    The core activities you should consider performing include the following:

    • Performance Objectives.
    • Budgeting.
    • Performance Modeling.
    • Performance Design Guidelines.
    • Performance Design Inspections.
    • Performance Code Inspections.
    • Performance Testing.
    • Performance Health Metrics.
    • Performance Deployment Inspections.
    • Capacity Planning.

    You can read more about these techniques and how to apply them to your software architecture and your software development life cycle on our Cheat Sheet – patterns & practices Performance Engineering.

    Additional Resources
    You can find more information on performance engineering at:

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    Microsoft Presentation, Data Access, Workflow and Integration Technology Cheat Sheets


    In my previous post, Choosing the Right Presentation Technology, I mentioned that we posted our cheat sheet on Microsoft presentation technologies to CodePlex.  Now, we’ve finished posting our cheat sheets for data access, workflow, and integration on CodePlex:

    Technology Coverage
    Here’s a summary table of the technology coverage in the cheat sheets:

    Category Technologies
    Presentation Compact Framework; ASP.NET Mobile; Silverlight Mobile; Windows Forms; windows Forms with WPF User Controls; WPF WPF with Windows Forms User Controls; XBAP with WPF; Silverlight; Silverlight with AJAX; ASP.NET Web Forms; ASP.NET Web Forms with AJAX; ASP.NET Web Forms with Silverlight Controls; ASP.NET MVC; ASP.NET Dynamic Data
    Data Access ADO.NET Core; ADO.NET Data Services Framework; ADO.NET Entity Framework (EF); ADO.NET Sync Service;s LINQ; LINQ to SQL
    Workflow Windows Workflow Foundation (WF); Workflow Services; Microsoft Office SharePoint Services (MOSS); BizTalk
    Integration BizTalk; Host Integration Server (HIS); Microsoft Message Queuing (MSMQ); Microsoft Enterprise Service Bus (ESB) Guidance

    Agile Architecture Methodology
    You can use the Agile Architecture Methodology to help map and test relevant technologies to your scenario.  At the end of the day, the best techniques for choosing technologies include architectural spikes, scenario-based testing and scenario-based evaluation.

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    New Release: patterns & practices App Arch Guide 2.0 Beta 2


    Today we released our patterns & practices Application Architecture Guide 2.0 Beta 2.  This is our Microsoft playbook for the application platform.  It's our guide to help solution architects and developers make the most of the Microsoft platform.  It's a distillation of many lessons learned.  It’s principle-based and pattern-oriented to provide a durable, evolvable backdrop for application architecture.  It's a collaborative effort among product team members, field, industry experts, MVPs, and customers.  This is the guide that helps you understand our platform, choose among the technologies, and build applications based on lessons learned and proven practices.

    Key Changes in Beta 2
    Beta 2 is a significant overhaul of the entire guide.  We carried the good forward.  We made some key additions:

    • Added a foreword by S. Somasegar.
    • Added technology considerations throughout the guide.
    • Added technology matrixes for choosing technologies, including Presentation, Data Access, Workflow, and Integration technologies.
    • Added a new Agile Architecture Method (see chapter 4.)
    • Tuned and pruned the recommendations across the entire guide.
    • Restructured the guide for simpler parts – fundamentals, design, layers and archetypes.

    4 Parts

    • Part I, “Fundamentals”
    • Part II, “Design”
    • Part III, “Layers”
    • Part IV, “Archetypes"



    Key Scenarios
    The guide helps you address the following scenarios:

    • Choose the right architecture for your application.
    • Choose the right technologies
    • Make more effective choices for key engineering decisions.
    • Map appropriate strategies and patterns.
    • Map relevant patterns & practices solution assets.

    Key Features

    • Canonical app frame - describes at a meta-level, the tiers and layers that an architect should consider. Each tier/layer is described in terms of its focus, function, capabilities, common design patterns and technologies.
    • App Types.  Canonical application archetypes to illustrate common application types.  Each archetype is described in terms of the target scenarios, technologies, patterns and infrastructure it contains. Each archetype will be mapped to the canonical app frame. They are illustrative of common app types and not comprehensive or definitive.
    • Arch Frame - a common set of categories for hot spots for key engineering decisions.
    • Quality Attributes - a set of qualities/abilities that shape your application architecture: performance, security, scalability, manageability, deployment, communication, etc.
    • Principles, patterns and practices - Using the frames as backdrops, the guide overlays relevant principles, patterns, and practices.
    • Technologies and capabilities - a description/overview of the Microsoft custom app dev platform and the main technologies and capabilities within it.

    Conceptual Framework
    At a high level, the guide is based on the following conceptual framework for application architecture:


    Reference Application Architecture
    We used the following reference application architecture as a backdrop for explaining how to design effective layers and components:


    Key Links

    Core Dev Team

    • J.D. Meier , Alex Homer, David Hill, Jason Taylor, Prashant Bansode , Lonnie Wall, Rob Boucher, Akshay Bogawat

    Contributors / Reviewers

    • Test team: Rohit Sharma, Praveen Rangarajan
    • Edit team: Dennis Rea.
    • External Contributors/Reviewers. Adwait Ullal; Andy Eunson; Christian Weyer; David Guimbellot; David Weller; Derek Greer; Eduardo Jezierski; Evan Hoff; Gajapathi Kannan; Jeremy D. Miller; John Kordyback; Keith Pleas; Kent Corley; Mark Baker; Paul Ballard; Peter Oehlert; Norman Headlam; Ryan Plant; Sam Gentile; Sidney G Pinney; Ted Neward; Udi Dahan
    • Microsoft Contributors / Reviewers. Ade Miller; Anoop Gupta; Bob Brumfield; Brad Abrams; Brian Cawelti; Bhushan Nene; Burley Kawasaki; Carl Perry; Chris Keyser; Chris Tavares; Clint Edmonson; David Hill; Denny Dayton; Diego Dagum; Dmitri Martynov; Dmitri Ossipov; Don Smith; Dragos Manolescu; Elisa Flasko; Eric Fleck; Erwin van der Valk; Faisal Mohamood; Francis Cheung; Gary Lewis; Glenn Block; Gregory Leake; Ian Ellison-Taylor; Ilia Fortunov; J.R. Arredondo; John deVadoss; Joseph Hofstader; Koby Avital; Loke Uei Tan; Manish Prabhu; Meghan Perez; Mehran Nikoo; Michael Puleio; Mike Walker; Mubarak Elamin; Nick Malik; Nobuyuki Akama; Ofer Ashkenazi; Pablo Castro; Pat Helland; Phil Haack; Reed Robison; Rob Tiffany; Ryno Rijnsburger; Scott Hanselman; Serena Yeoh; Srinath Vasireddy; Tom Hollander; Wojtek Kozaczynski

    My Related Posts

  • patterns & practices App Arch Guide 2.0 Project
  • App Arch Guide 2.0 Beta 1 Release
  • App Arch Guide 2.0 Overview Slides
  • Abstract for Application Architecture Guide 2.0
  • App Arch Meta-Frame
  • App Types
  • Architecture Frame
  • App Arch Guidelines
  • Layers and Components
  • Key Software Trends
  • Cheat Sheet: patterns & practices Catalog at a Glance Posted to CodePlex
  • Cheat Sheet: patterns & practices Pattern Catalog Posted to CodePlex
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    Application Architecture Checklists Posted to CodePlex


    As part of our patterns & practices Application Architecture 2.0 project, we created a set of application architecture checklists to help sweep our guide.  The act of creating the checklists, forces us to revisit the guidance.  We're still sweeping the guidance, but we're ready to share the checklists.  Improving the checklists improves the guide.  As a side benefit, you get handy checklists you can use as a baseline for your own checklists for application architecture.

    Application Architecture Checklists

    Layer Checklists

    Application Checklists

    Feedback on the Checklists
    To provide feedback on the checklists, you can make your comments either here on my blog or in the App Arch KB forums.

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    Choosing the Right Presentation Technology


    How do you choose among the Microsoft .NET presentation technologies?  Use scenario-based evaluation.  At the end of the day, a technology is a set of capabilities. Map those capabilities to your scenario and requirements.  OK, great, but where do you start?  That's where our cheat sheet comes in.  As part of our Application Architecture Guidance 2.0 project, we created a cheat sheet to help you quickly find your way through the technologies:

    Cheat Sheet – Presentation Technology Matrix
    We posted our latest cheat sheet to CodePlex:

    Presentation Technologies
    Here’s the technology combinations that we identified, evaluated and cataloged:

    • ASP.NET Dynamic Data
    • ASP.NET Mobile
    • ASP.NET Web Forms
    • ASP.NET Web Forms with AJAX
    • ASP.NET Web Forms with Silverlight Controls
    • Compact Framework
    • Silverlight
    • Silverlight with AJAX
    • Silverlight Mobile
    • Windows Forms
    • Windows Forms with WPF User Controls
    • WPF Application
    • WPF with Windows Forms Controls
    • XAML Browser Application (XBAP) using WPF

    That’s a lot of options, but that’s a good thing.  In a mature market, expect lots of options and specialization.  This helps you use the right tool for the job.  The challenge, of course, is knowing which one is the right tool, but that’s where our cheat sheet should help.  Ultimately, the cheat sheet is a support aid and doesn’t replace your own thinking or analysis.  Instead, it helps you consolidate some key information on the technologies, and help you consider some of the benefits and considerations.

    Organizing the Technologies
    To organize the technologies, we use a simple frame:

    • Technology Summary
    • Benefits and Considerations Matrix
    • Common Scenarios and Solutions

    By pinning the technologies against common application types (Mobile, Rich Client, RIA, and Web App), it made it very easy for us to slice and dice the technologies by relevancy, capabilities, and scenarios.

    How We Created the Cheat Sheet

    We started from a base set of application types and scenarios.  We vetted from experience among the p&p development team.  Next, we reviewed with various product team members, including Brad Abrams, Pat Helland, Glenn Block, and Ian Ellison-Taylor.  Next we vetted with some customers.  It’s a work in progress and we’ve been through several iterations.  In fact, the version we posted today is version 35.   Now it’s time to share with a broader community.

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    Software Architecture Best Practices at a Glance


    Today we posted our updated software architecture best practices at a glance to CodePlex, as part of our patterns & practices Application Architecture Guide 2.0 project:

    They’re essentially a brief collection of problems and solutions around building software applications.  The answers are short and sweet so that you can quickly browse them.  You can think of them as a bird’s-eye view of the problem space we tackled.  When we add them to the Application Architecture Guide 2.0, we'll provide quick links into the guide for elaboration.

    This is your chance to bang on the set of problems and solutions before Beta 2 of the guide.

  • J.D. Meier's Blog

    Agile Architecture Method


    I presented our new patterns & practices Agile Architecture Method for the first time at the patterns & practices Summit.   Our Agile Architecture Method is an iterative and incremental approach for designing architectures. 

    To summarize, it’s a technique that:

    • Scopes and focuses your architecture exercise.
    • Uses scenarios to drive the design and evaluate potential solutions.
    • Helps you think through your choice of application type, deployment, architectural style and technologies.
    • Helps you quickly iterate through potential solutions.
    • Helps you map potential patterns.

    I’ve summarized the approach below, and we’ve posted a step-step how to on CodePlex:

    Here’s the key input into the process:

    • Use cases and usage scenarios
    • Functional requirements
    • Non-functional requirements (quality attributes such as performance, security, and reliability)
    • Technological requirements
    • Target deployment environment
    • Constraints

    Here’s the key output of the process:

    • Architecturally significant use cases
    • Architecture hot spots
    • Candidate architectures
    • Architectural spikes

    Summary of Steps

    • Step 1. Identify Architecture Objectives.
    • Step 2. Identify Key Scenarios.
    • Step 3. Create an Application Overview.
    • Step 4. Analyze Key Hot Spots.
    • Step 5. Create Candidate Solutions.

    Step 1. Identify Architecture Objectives
    This is a scoping exercise.  The purpose of this step is to figure out how much time and energy to spend on subsequent steps as well as guide your overall effort.   You should know what you want in terms of outcomes.  Here’s an example of potential goals:

    • Build a prototype
    • Identify key technical risks
    • Test potential paths
    • Share models and understanding

    Step 2. Identify Key Scenarios
    Identify relevant scenarios to focus your design on what matters most, and to evaluate your candidate solutions.    In this case, you want to identify architecturally significant use cases.  Architecturally significant use cases are those that meet the following criteria:

    1. They are important for the success and acceptance of the deployed application.
    2. They exercise enough of the design to be useful in evaluating the architecture.

    You can draw key scenarios from your user stories, business stories and system stories.

    Step 3. Create an Application Overview
    Create an application overview.  The application overview serves to make your architecture more real, connecting it to real-world constraints and decisions. 


    An application overview consists of the following steps:

    • Determine your application type. First, determine what type of application you are building. Is it a mobile application, a rich client, a rich internet application, a service, a Web application, or some combination?
    • Understand your deployment constraints. Next, understand your targeted deployment environment and determine what impact this will have on your architecture.
    • Identify important architectural styles. Determine which architectural styles you will be using in your design. Will you build a service oriented architecture, client/server, layered, a message bus, or some combination?
    • Determine relevant technologies. Finally, identify the relevant technology choices based on your application type, architectural styles and deployment constraints.

    A good test of an application overview is whether you can whiteboard it.

    Step 4. Analyze Key Hot Spots
    Identify key hotspots based on quality attributes and the architecture frame. These are the areas where mistakes are most often made when designing an application.

    Quality Attributes Frame
    Understand the quality attributes that are important for your application and scenarios. For instance, most applications need to address security and performance and will be traded against usability, flexibility and other attributes that may be more or less important to you depending on your scenarios and requirements.  You can use the following frame to identify key quality attributes to consider:

    Category Considerations
  • How to design for failover support
  • How to design a redundant site
  • How to plan for backup and recovery How to design for runtime upgrades
  • Conceptual Integrity
  • How to isolate from external dependencies
  • How to create a migration path from legacy technologies
  • How evolve the system without breaking clients
  • Flexibility
  • How to handle dynamic business rules How to handle dynamic UI
  • How to handle changes in data and logic processing
  • How to handle changes in business requirements
  • Interoperability
  • How to allow applications to interoperate while still evolving separately
  • How to isolate systems through the use of service interfaces
  • How to isolate systems through the use of mapping layers
  • Maintainability
  • How to reduce dependencies between layers and components
  • How to implement a pluggable architecture
  • How to choose an appropriate communication model
  • Manageability
  • How to understand the key types of failure
  • How to monitor system operation and health
  • How to modify system behavior based on load
  • Performance
  • How to determine a caching strategy
  • How to design high performance communication between layers
  • How to design high performance data access
  • How to manage resources effectively
  • Reliability
  • How to handle unreliable external systems
  • How to audit requests and jobs
  • How to redirect load
  • How to handle failed communication
  • How to handle failed transactions
  • How to handle exceptions
  • Reusability
  • How to reduce duplication between components and layers
  • How to share functionality across systems
  • How to share functionality across components and layers
  • Scalability
  • How to design layers and tiers for scalability
  • How to scale-up or scale-out
  • How to handle spikes in traffic and load
  • Security
  • How to address authentication and authorization.
  • How to protect against malicious input.
  • How to protect sensitive data
  • Supportability
  • How to design auditing and logging
  • How to design usable error messages
  • Testability
  • How to design for testability
  • How to design unit tests
  • How to design for UI automation
  • Usability
  • How to design for user empowerment
  • How to improve responsiveness
  • How to avoid common user experience pitfalls
  • Architecture Frame
    The architecture frame represents cross cutting concerns that will impact your design across layers and tiers. These are also the areas in which high impact design mistakes are most often made. Use the architecture frame to identify hot spots in your design that require additional attention to get right.  You can use the following architecture frame to identify cross cutting concerns in your design:

    Category Considerations
    Authentication and Authorization
  • How to choose an authentication strategy.
  • How to choose an authorization strategy.
  • How to flow identity across layers and tiers.
  • How to store user identities when not using Active Directory.
  • Caching and State
  • How to choose an appropriate caching technology.
  • How to determine what data to cache.
  • How to determine where to cache the data.
  • How to determine the expiration policy.
  • Communication
  • How to choose appropriate protocols for communication across layers and tiers.
  • How to design loose coupling across layers.
  • How to perform asynchronous communication.
  • How to pass sensitive data.
  • Composition
  • How to choose a composition pattern for the user interface (UI).
  • How to avoid dependencies between modules in the UI.
  • How to handle communication between modules in the UI.
  • Concurrency and Transactions
  • How to handle concurrency between threads.
  • How to choose between optimistic and pessimistic concurrency.
  • How to handle distributed transactions.
  • How to handle long running transactions.
  • Configuration Management
  • How to determine what information needs to be configurable.
  • How to determine where and how to store configuration information.
  • How to protect sensitive configuration information.
  • How to handle configuration information in a farm/cluster.
  • Coupling and Cohesion
  • How to choose an appropriate layering strategy for separation of concerns.
  • How to design highly cohesive components and group them within layers.
  • How to determine when loose coupling is appropriate between components within a layer.
  • Data Access
  • How to manage database connections.
  • How to handle exceptions.
  • How to improve performance.
  • How to handle binary large objects (blobs).
  • Exception Management
  • How to handle exceptions.
  • How to log exceptions.
  • How to provide notification when required.
  • Logging and Instrumentation
  • How to determine which information to log.
  • How to make the logging configurable.
  • How to determine what level of instrumentation is required.
  • User Experience
  • How to improve task efficiency and effectiveness.
  • How to improve responsiveness.
  • How to improve user empowerment.
  • How to improve look and feel. </>
  • Validation
  • How to determine where and how to perform validation.
  • How to validate for length, range, format, and type.
  • How to constrain and reject input.
  • How to sanitize output.
  • Workflow
  • How to choose the appropriate workflow technology.
  • How to handle concurrency issues within a workflow.
  • How to handle task failure within a workflow.
  • How to orchestrate processes within a workflow.
  • Step 5. Create Candidate Solutions
    Create a candidate architecture and along with architectural spikes and evaluate it against your key scenarios, hot spots, and deployment constraints.  The outcomes of this step are:

    • Baseline / Candidate Architectures
    • Architectural Spikes

    Iterative and Incremental Design
    You can iteratively flesh out your architecture as you work through your design and discover more details that impact your architecture.  You don’t have to design your architecture in a single iteration. Do not get lost in the details; focus on the big steps and build a framework on which you can base your architecture and design.

    My Related Posts

  • New Release: patterns & practices App Arch Guide 2.0 Beta 1
  • patterns & practices App Arch Guide 2.0 Project
  • App Arch Guide 2.0 Overview Slides
  • Abstract for Application Architecture Guide 2.0
  • App Arch Meta-Frame
  • App Types
  • Architecture Frame
  • App Arch Guidelines
  • Layers and Components
  • Key Software Trends
  • Cheat Sheet: patterns & practices Catalog at a Glance Posted to CodePlex
  • Cheat Sheet: patterns & practices Pattern Catalog Posted to CodePlex

  • J.D. Meier's Blog

    New Release: patterns & practices SharePoint Guidance


    patterns & practices SharePoint Guidance is now available.

    patterns & practices SharePoint Guidance helps architects and developers build SharePoint intranet applications. The guidance contains a reference implementation (RI) that demonstrates solutions to common architectural, development, and lifecycle management challenges. This guidance discusses the following:

    • Architectural decisions about patterns, feature factoring, and packaging.
    • Design tradeoffs for common decisions many developers encounter.
    • Implementation examples demonstrated in the RI and in the QuickStarts.
    • How to design for testability, create unit tests, and run continuous integration.
    • Set up of development, build, test, staging, and production environments.
    • Managing the application life cycle including upgrade.
    • Team-based intranet application development.

    Out of Scope

    • Content-oriented sites that use Web content management.
    • Internet and enterprise-scale SharePoint applications.
    • Multilingual SharePoint applications.
    • Scale or security testing of SharePoint applications.

    Key Links

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