Friday, December 28, 2007

The Winchester Mystery House

I've recently been investigating architecture, more specifically SOA and came across an Architecture Journal book entitled SOA in the Real World.  I'm unsure of the author but Chapter 1 is certainly an entertaining and informative read.  I was fascinated by the reference to the Winchester Mystery House and it's history formed the basis of a New Years message for my team.

The Winchester Mystery House is an intriguing tourist attraction in the USA near San Jose, CA. The Winchester Mystery House was the home to the heiress of the Winchester fortune (amassed from the sales of Winchester rifles). According to the legend, the heiress went to see a fortune teller and learned she was cursed to be haunted by the spirits of everyone ever killed by a Winchester rifle. The only way to avoid the curse was to build a mansion – as long as she kept building the spirits would leave her alone. She promptly hired 147 builders (and 0 architects), all of whom began working on the mansion simultaneously. The builders worked on the mansion until the heiress passed away, 38 years later. The result of their efforts is a classic example of implementation without architecture:

  • The mansion contains 160 rooms, 40 bedrooms, 6 kitchens, 2 basements and 950 doors
  • Of the 950 doors, 65 of them open to blank walls; 13 staircases were built and abandoned; and 24 skylights were installed into various floors.
  • No architectural blueprint for the mansion was ever created.

Confusing architecture with implementation generates chaotic and unpredictable results – much like the Winchester Mystery House.

Let's try not make the same mistake with software construction in 2008 ;)

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