This page describes the vision on the concept of Architecture Principles as part of the Dragon1 Way of Thinking.

Architecture Principles

Just ask any architect how important architecture principles are. Most likely the architect finds them most important.

What is an Architecture Principle?

In Dragon1 architecture principle is defined as follows:

An architecture principle is the enforced way a concept, being part of an architecture (total concept), works, producing results.

A principle is defined as the enforced way an entity or system works, producing results. Principles are about the way things work. Principles always have four parts at minimum: cause, effect, enforcement, result

A principle is wisdom or scientific knowledge that is captured. And by means of principles it can be passed through to new generations.

Knowledge is that what we have or can measure, infer or demonstrate. If you can't measure, infer or demonstrate something, you don't know it. And all principles are knowledge.

For example "Self Service", "Zero Waste" and "Business Process Orientation" are concepts. These concepts can be made part of a business architecture. If that is done, the principles of these concepts become architecture principles.

If the concept "Business Process Orientation" is made an architecture concept then its principle "By continuously aligning activities optimally through active quality control, it is ensured that resources are used much more efficiently, mitigating risks and lowering costs and overhead" would be an architecture principle.

The way of working and result described in the principle statement is always true, at least if all the elements of the concept are in place. Compare it with a bicycle. If the chain is missing it will never work. If the chain is there, it will always work.

If a principle is like a pattern or a mechanism, then an architecture principle must be also like an architecture pattern or architecture mechanism.

Figure 1, Principle Diagram Showing how the Concept of Symmetric Cryptography Works
The Principle of the Symmetric Cryptography Concept

By always encrypting, as sender, text messages using a complex key, only known to the receiver of the text, and using a public domain algorithm, it is ensured that text messages cannot be decyphered by anyone else than the sender and receiver.

A symmetric (or secret-key) cryptosystem uses the same key for encryption and decryption. A text block is transformed, via a particular algorithm using a key, into a ciphertext block. The same algorithm and the same key are used for decryption, which reproduces the original plaintext. This is illustrated in figure 1.

The Principle of Symmetric Cryptography becomes an AS-IS Architecture Principle for a domain if cryptography is done via symmetric cryptography.

What is Not an Architecture Principle?

Norms, values, rules, starting points, aims, goals, objectives, guidelines. All these things are very important. but they are NOT principles or architecture principles. They are normative statements but not always true.

Behind these normative statements lies a truth, the rationale, the actual principle. So the real principle can always be found or constructed. Just answer the question: How can we make sure 'this' will always work or will always deliver benefits?

Many architects are accustomed using architecture principles as rules, aims, laws or guidelines and without the notion of a concept. So when using or learning Dragon1 this is an aspect to take into account.

Why Do Architects use Architecture Principles?

Architects create designs at a conceptual level, logical level and physical level. Other designers do not cover the conceptual level. At the logical level, the principle already is implicitly there and the designer looks at only parts of the concept to implement. At a conceptual level, one is aware of the principles. Often, nothing of a new concept is already there and you have to fill it all in. And only if all the key elements (at the logical level) or key components (at the physical level) at present, the concept will work as expected and produce results as expected.

Types of Architectures Principles

Next to Architecture Principles Dragon1 recognizes the following common types of principles:

  • Design Principles
  • Prima facie Principles
  • Construction Principles
  • Enterprise Principles
  • Governance Principles
  • Business Principles
  • Information Principles
  • Application Principles
  • Data Principles
  • Security Principles
  • IT Principles

Best Practice on Architecture Principles

This image shows the Dragon1 best practice in working with architecture principles.

Selecting Architecture Principles

In fact, you do not select principles, but you select concepts as an architect. The concepts you make part of an architecture. And by doing so, the concepts' principle is made part of an architecture.

And you don't go creating your own principles. You make sure you have literature that describes the theoretical foundation and the successful practical application of a concept and the detail of its principle.

You need to know the stakeholder's needs and requirements first and then you can select a concept based on the requirements and needs. It could be you select various types of concept and discuss with the stakeholder the best option. Take for instance the cloud concept. There are many types of cloud, like a public cloud and a private cloud. Just like there are many types of organizations, coffee machines and car engines. And they all work differently, they have different principles.

Formulating Architecture Principles

Dragon1 has predefined a format for the short statement of a principle and thus for an architecture principle.

A short statement consists of four parts: the action, the effect, the enforcement and the result. Preferably a principle starts with the word "By". And you MUST always be able to refer to literature that supports the scientific claim of your principle. Because architecture and principles are top-level science, as with dealing with the forces chaos and entropy, you must know what you are doing! Don't try to invent instantly new principles. It will just don't work!

Example short statement of a principle: By always linking exactly 1 business goal to exactly 1 project via tooling and evaluated via reports and quality systems, it is ensured that unnecessary or superfluous projects are started up to realize business goals, resulting in saving resources, budget and costs and mitigating risks.

Visualizing Architecture Principles

Principles are visualized with Principle detail diagrams. They explain high level or in detail how a system, like a concept works and produces results.

Here follows an example how Block Chain works. You see, visualized it is much better to understand and to communicate than with a written down principle short statement.

Blockchain Principle

Notice how a principle details diagram at least recognizes and mentions the key elements that have to collaborate and how they need to be arranged.

Top 100 list of Architecture Principles

Many concepts that are quality aspects are used to come up with a principle like you see in the list below.

In the list below every architecture principle is written down in the format: "concept name", "short principle statement". The short principle statements always consist of four parts: action, effect, enforcement and result. The ensures we do not write down rules but write down principles

On the left you find different types of architectures that go into detail for the types of principles mentioned here.

A basic list of 100 common architecture principles is:

Enterprise, Governance and Business Principles

  1. Separation of Concerns - By separating concerns, ...
  2. Modularity - By grouping functionality into modules, ...
  3. Simplicity - By creating a system that is as simple as possible, ....
  4. Diversity - By creating a so diverse as possible situation, ...
  5. Standardization - By standardizing the way of ..., it is ensured that ...
  6. Centralization - By centralizing ...
  7. Decentralization - By decentralizing ...
  8. Single Source of Truth
  9. Buy before build - By buying before building ...
  10. Product differentiation -
  11. Business Need Prioritization -
  12. Business Agility -
  13. Product Value Maximization -
  14. Process Management / Process Orientation
  15. Product Management / Product Orientation
  16. Service Management / Service Orientation
  17. Client Management / Customer Orientation
  18. Office Orientation (Using Buildings to organize work)
  19. Plant Orientation (Using Plants for production)
  20. Outsourcing
  21. Offshoring
  22. Sustainability
  23. Adaptivity
  24. Zero Waste Production
  25. Mass Production
  26. Code of Governance
  27. Transparency
  28. Openness
  29. Business Continuity
  30. Innovation

Information Principles

  1. Asset Management (Maximize value of assets)
  2. Accountability
  3. Multi-Channel Management
  4. Omni Channel Management
  5. Dependability
  6. Availability
  7. Confidentiality
  8. Authenticity
  9. Integrity
  10. Patenting / Intellectual Property / Copyrighting

Application and Data Principles

  1. Application Coherence
  2. Interoperability
  3. Enterprise Application Integration (EAI)
  4. System Life Cycle Management
  5. Reuse maximization
  6. Data Hiding
  7. Data Encapsulation
  8. Loosely Coupling
  9. Interfacing
  10. Service Broker and Consumer
  11. Rules Engine
  12. Canonical Domain Model (CDM)

Technology / IT Infrastructure Principles

  1. IT Service Management
  2. Capacity planning
  3. Power consumption reduction
  4. Automated Monitoring
  5. Redundancy
  6. Deduplication
  7. Robotization
  8. Automation
  9. Digitization
  10. Cloud Computing
  11. DMZ
  12. Single Sign On

First Principle

Any concept has principles. The principle that decribes the whole way of working of a concept is called the First Principle. Principles that describe parts of a concept are simple called principles.

The Way of Working Definition

Read more about the Dragon1 Way Of Working Definition on Architecture Principles here.