The term Software Architecture captures a complex amalgam of representations and uses, real and figurative, that is rendered and utilized by different stakeholders throughout the software development process. Current approaches to documenting Software Architecture, in contrast, rely on the notion of a blueprint that may not be sufficient to capture this multi-faceted concept. We argue that it might not even be feasible in practice to have such a unified understanding of this concept for a given setting. We demonstrate, with the help of in-depth case studies, that four key metaphors govern the creation and use of software architecture by different communities: “blueprint”, “literature”, “language”, and “decision”. The results challenge the current, somewhat narrow, understanding of the concept of software architecture that focuses on description languages, suggesting new directions for more effective representation and use of software architecture in practice.
Smolander, Kari; Rossi, Matti; and Purao, Sandeep, "Going Beyond the Blueprint: Unravelling the Compex Reality of Software Architectures" (2005). ECIS 2005 Proceedings. 95.