Feeds

Of Autodesk and the Freedom Tower

Lessons for software developers?

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup

Sefetsky emphasises that SOM didn't just jump into this; it did a proper evaluation of Revit first, although perhaps the real test is the pleasures people apparently take in using Revit. But the new process does deliver, it gives SOM rapid design realisation and confidence both in the final delivery and in its ability to make radical changes in a controlled and cost-effective way. The design of the Freedom Tower above ground has already changed significantly, for instance, to accommodate the need of the NY police department for more space around the tower).

According to Sefetsky the collaboration with Autodesk Consulting has delivered “competitive advantage without being at the bleeding edge”.

So far so good, then, but so not particularly IT. However, we could have taken these presentations, changed the names of the technology vendors and replaced “building” with “computer application” – and we might have been listening to a presentation on the benefits of the OMG's Model Driven Architecture!

Of course, this isn't so surprising when you remember that the “patterns movement” behind much modern software development was based on an architectural movement - check out this interview with Erich Gamma. Gamma's seminal book Design Patterns (Gamma, E. R. Helm, R. Johnson and J. Vlissides. Addison-Wesley, 1995) was based on Christopher Alexander's work on what he sometimes called "a timeless way of building".

However, it gives one pause for thought when you hear Autodesk's Bernstein talking about his architecture students and their reaction to this new way of working and realise that they are raising issues awfully like those raised by hands-on programmers when they meet automated systems development. People don't like change and automation brings change. Nevertheless, it seems highly unlikely that our systems development process should be immune from automation, considering that we can automate business process successfully - admittedly with all the disruption that entails for business workers.

Perhaps we need to examine the automation process and its consequences dispassionately, before we decide that Model Driven Architecture (for example) can't work for us. And perhaps considering the automation of building design processes is a good way to isolate ourselves from the personal impact of automation, so we can make a neutral assessment.

Of course, a formal model-driven architectural approach isn't the only way forward. Kent Beck's eXtreme Programming (XP) approach, for example, achieves similar ends to those achieved by SOM's simulation of the Freedom Tower design, by actually building pieces of business function and constantly testing them against prebuilt test cases.

An XP approach probably isn't appropriate to building the Freedom Tower, but XP does respect architecture and can deliver notable successes. Something similar was probably used, more or less, to build a lot of wonderful European cathedrals, although looking at the noble edifices we see today, shouldn't blind us to the fact that quite a lot of cathedrals fell down early on – perhaps some builders skimped the test cases.

But, XP is appropriate to programming, and we should consider using it – just as we should also consider using the more formal modelling approaches represented by MDA, say, which correspond to the modelling/simulation processes used by SOM. There may be several paths to a goal and sometimes looking at another discipline (such as buildings architecture) can help us appreciate some of these alternatives. ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Why has the web gone to hell? Market chaos and HUMAN NATURE
Tim Berners-Lee isn't happy, but we should be
Linux turns 23 and Linus Torvalds celebrates as only he can
No, not with swearing, but by controlling the release cycle
Apple promises to lift Curse of the Drained iPhone 5 Battery
Have you tried turning it off and...? Never mind, here's a replacement
Sin COS to tan Windows? Chinese operating system to debut in autumn – report
Development alliance working on desktop, mobe software
Eat up Martha! Microsoft slings handwriting recog into OneNote on Android
Freehand input on non-Windows kit for the first time
This is how I set about making a fortune with my own startup
Would you leave your well-paid job to chase your dream?
(Not so) Instagram now: Time-shifting Hyperlapse iPhone tool unleashed
Photos app now able to shoot fast-moving videos
prev story

Whitepapers

A new approach to endpoint data protection
What is the best way to ensure comprehensive visibility, management, and control of information on both company-owned and employee-owned devices?
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Maximize storage efficiency across the enterprise
The HP StoreOnce backup solution offers highly flexible, centrally managed, and highly efficient data protection for any enterprise.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.