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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Using critics to support software architects


Software architectures evolve as the result of numerous, interrelated design decisions. Existing approaches to analysis, however, tend to provide feedback only after numerous design decisions have been made. As a result, theydo not directly support the evolutionary nature of the architecture design process or the software architect's decision-making process. In this paper we present an approach to architectural analysis stemming from previous work in domain oriented design environments that is based on critics and criticism control mechanisms. This approach more closely supports evolution and the needs of architects by providing feedback as individual design decisions are beingconsidered. We discuss the theoretical motivations for the critic-based approach, the implementation and management of critics, support for diverse and extensible groups of critics, and the combined use of critics and existing analysis techniques.

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