app /blog

Ball of Mud Architecture

Tue 18th Sep 2007

Today I came across Scott Rosenberg's (of Dreaming in Code fame) blog entry on ball of mud - a paper by Brian Foote and Joseph Yoder about the "most frequently deployed of software architectures". The architecture being in essence non-existent.

Interestingly in the paper they cite the reason for the prevalence of this "non-architecture" as:

People build big balls of mud because they work. In many domains, they are the only things that have been shown to work.

Scott Rosenberg summarises this:

In many business scenarios, it’s far preferable to roll a Big Ball of Mud to market on time than to unveil a sparkling, architecturally sound edifice years late.

Now it's not like I'd suggest that this kind of thing is "good", but it is very pragmatic and here at the £5app we do like pragmatism. I guess the lesson to learn would be that you are better off having software out there that works and is being used, than something that's written "better", but isn't finished. The converse could be:

... it’s better to make version 1 half a product than a half-assed product.

So if you do care about doing things "properly" you still have to get something out there.

good, fast, cheap: pick any two

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