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InfoQ Homepage News InfoQ Article: Agile - The SOA Hangover Cure

InfoQ Article: Agile - The SOA Hangover Cure

Carl Ververs digs in to the age old Information Technology problem on behalf of the SOA community: How do you start? With SOA, there's a dynamic tension between "intentional" architecture and "just get started" services. The idea of hurtling ahead without much architecture is dangerous and can lead to "spaghetti" SOA. Then again, overarchitecting is counter to the YAGNI (You Aint Gonna Need It) philosophy of Agile Programmers everywhere.

The full article is available by clicking here.

Carl digs in to this dynamic tension with an entertainingly written exclusive InfoQ article. Excerpts from the article below:

So I ask you: how can you design, plan and implement what you do not know? You can't. So you might as well design around just what is in front of you and plan for half of what you know to be invalid tomorrow.

You can't learn what it's like to make, own and interconnect services from a book, you have to DO it. Only when those messages start flowing and trigger events will you understand. Only when you invoke the same service from two entirely different pieces of code will you understand the power of what you have created.

Do you need to have your message headers standardized to do this? Do you have to have your governance set up? Do you need to have an SOA infrastructure up and running?

No, and you know it.

But just sending wild XML without schemas over JMS sounds so.., so... impulsive! Yes, and isn't it beautiful?

So, now that I have you convinced that there is an alternative way to approach SOA, let's look at how you can actually get true SOA off the ground, using Agile/XP practices.

First, select a team of 4, 6 or 8 developers. The more varied their skill set, the better. Reserve a room for half an hour at the beginning of every day. This will be your AgileSOA project room where you will discuss lessons learned, designs and practices and where you will plan your next steps. Get an easel with a flipchart, so you can carry your artifacts in and out at will.

Select a mildly complex process flow from your company's core business. To name some examples, try implementing a simple loan application. A basic stock trading system is a good candidate as well. Remember, you don't have to solve the entire business problem, just make your solution do something that appears useful to your business types.

Chart out the simplest path through the flow, initially leaving out all exceptions, errors and decision points (the so-called Happy Path). Now go and implement the first pieces, pairing developers with the largest difference in skills and experience. This may seem unexciting, but I challenge you to build that first consumer of MSMQ or JMS messages, get a few running and have a producer successfully send some XML data to them. (That means ALL of them, not just one)

So what if this first step is trivial and mundane? Did you write unit tests for the producer and consumer, so that you can verify that the data comes across intact? Did your pairs develop together, without walking back to their own desks? No? Thought so.

Read Agile: The SOA Hangover Cure

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