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Visualising architectural dependencies


John Brondum and Liming Zhu



Visibility of technical debt is critical. A lack thereof can lead to significant problems without adequate visibility as part of the system level decision-making processes [2]. Current approaches for analysing and monitoring architecture related debt are based on dependency analysis to detect code level violations of the software architecture [2,3,6]. However, heterogeneous environments with several systems constructed using COTS, and/or several programming languages may not offer sufficient code visibility. Other limiting factors include legal contracts, Intellectual Property Rights or just very large systems. Secondly, the complexity of a software dependency is often greater than simple structural dependencies; including multi-dimensional properties (as argued by [10]), behavioural dependencies [5,9]; and ‘implicit’ dependencies (i.e., dependency inter-relatedness [11]). This paper proposes a simple modelling approach for visualising dependency relationships as an extension of the current approaches; while supporting complex dependencies. The model can be build using existing dependency analysis and general architectural knowledge; thus better suited for heterogeneous environments. We demonstrate the proposed modelling using an exemplar, and two field case studies.

BibTeX Entry

    author           = {Brondum, John and Zhu, Liming},
    month            = jun,
    year             = {2012},
    keywords         = {technical debt, software architecture, architectural dependency analysis},
    title            = {Visualising Architectural Dependencies},
    booktitle        = {Managing Technical Debt Workshop at International Conference on Software Engineering (ICSE)},
    pages            = {8},
    address          = {Zurich, Switzerland}


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