Curate Don’t Dictate

Inspiration for software architecture often comes from the world of building architecture. In building architecture, the architect takes in local building codes to understand construction requirements. They analyze various building components like ductwork and furnaces, windows and doors, and figure out where and when to use standard components and when to build custom. They provide cost estimates for each of the components and for the whole, and then build out a blueprint providing upfront design and specification. [Read More]

Principles of Architectural Leadership

Software is core to the operation of our business, and as architects, we are the key conduit between business and technology. Being technical leaders within this intertwined relationship means that we have a responsiblity to make sure that our business decisions and our technology decisions stay aligned. Being in this position demands leadership skills that are equal or better than our technical skills, so that we can effectively align business strategy with technical strategy, communicate that strategy to teams, motivate both teams and individuals, and influence outcomes. [Read More]

An Introduction UDP

The User Datagram Protocol (UDP), first described in 1980 by RFC 768, offers a minimal set of functionality: there is no guarantee of message delivery, no guarantee of message order, no congestion avoidance, and no tracking of connection state. In fact, UDP is often referred to as the null protocol, because it offers little functionality not already included in the IP layer.

[Read More]

Innovation with Constraints

One of the many paradoxes of human creativity is that it seems to benefit from constraints. Although we [perceive] the imagination as requiring total freedom, the reality of the creative process is that it’s often entangled with strict conventions and formal requirements. Pop songs have choruses and refrains; symphonies have four movements; plays have five acts; painters still rely on the tropes of portraiture. Jonah Lehrer Constraints can seem like the last thing you’d want for a creative project, but they’re actually beneficial when it comes to doing good work. [Read More]

An Introduction TCP

The transmission control protocol (TCP) does one job very well — it creates an abstraction that makes an unreliable channel look like a reliable network. For applications built over an unreliable network like the Internet, TCP is a godsend that hides a lot of the inherent complexity in building networked applications. A laundry list of TCP features that application developers rely on every day includes: retransmission of lost data, in-order data delivery, data integrity, and congestion control. This article provides an introduction TCP, describing the structure of TCP segments, how TCP connections are established, and the algorithms that govern the flow of data between senders and receivers.

[Read More]

An Introduction to WebSockets

A WebSocket is a persistent connection between a client and server. WebSockets provide a bidirectional, full-duplex communications channel that operates over HTTP through a single TCP/IP socket connection. At its core, the WebSocket protocol facilitates message passing between a client and server. This article provides an introduction to the WebSocket protocol, including what problem WebSockets solve, and an overview of how WebSockets are described at the protocol level.

[Read More]

The Zero Bug Policy

Building Quality into Your Process

A few years ago, a company I worked for was suffering from quality problems. We were expanding into new areas, pushing the product in new directions, and releasing new features quickly. As we pushed out new and evolved products, quality declined. Everything came to a head when customers began openly complaining about software quality. Our CTO stepped in with a mandate to solve the quality problem. His approach? The Zero Bug Policy — no-one was allowed to work on new features until the number of bugs in the product backlog was zero. [Read More]

An Introduction to HTTP/2

Note: To make this easier to read (and write), h1 may be used in place of HTTP/1, and h2 may used in place of HTTP/2.


HTTP/1 has a long and storied history. Originally developed as a sixty page specification documented in RFC 1945, it was designed to handle text-based pages that leverage hypermedia to connect documents to each other. Typical web pages would kilobytes of data. For example, the first web page was a simple text file with web links to other text documents. Now, the web is made up of media-rich sites containing images, scripts, stylesheets, fonts, and more. The size of a typical web page is measured in megabytes rather than kilobytes, and the number of requests required to assemble a full page can be over one hundred. The reality of how web pages are built today does not match the reality that HTTP/1 was designed to support.

[Read More]

Vendor Management is a Core Competency

Building and running a successful company requires an immense amount of work and talent. It also requires focus. Companies cannot try and solve problems with new and innovative techniques everywhere they operate. It is important to understand the areas your company should innovate in, and outside of that scope, use existing standards and off-the-shelf software as much as possible. There is only so much innovation that a company (or the market) is willing to bear and walking that line is a key factor in developing a successful product on time and budget. [Read More]