There are two things that I have learned as an IT person over the years that haven’t changed. The first is the System View, by Donella Meadows. Tragically her life was cut short, but her concept remains one of the top IT views ever. Simply put all things are a system; there are inputs and outputs. Air-conditioning systems, bathtubs, and technologies are all system. Every system has inputs, processes, and outputs. I still to this day use this simple view of technology when approaching something new. The other technology system I use still is the OODA Loops by John Boyd. Boyd’s view of the world more of a holistic view above what the system view would be. Observe, Orient, Decide Act.
Both of these tools remain in my toolbelt. The rest of the tools have changed over the years. Experience teaches us that over time, things change. There was a time when I considered UML the easiest way to present software and software solutions to other people. There was a time when I thought about using other systems. I have used DODAF, Zachman, and many other frameworks. It is all about creating a common language so that the software architect and the end user are better able to understand. The concept that architects start with is that of requirements. What is it people want the system to do. From there, we layer on user cases. Use cases are interesting but dangerous.
You can never cover all the possible use cases for a software solution. One of the things was always trying to understand the variability in the technology around the solution. There are five versions of windows right now — 7,8, 8.1, 10, and 10-second edition. There are at least 12 different versions of Linux desktops, and currently, there are at least 5 MacOS versions. Add to that that every single machine can have as many as nine different browsers and you see use cases that are comprehensive are not possible. There are always things you don’t understand, and worse, there are always things that get missed. I think for me, that is one of the reasons that Donella’s system view and John Boyd’s OODA Loops have stuck with me. They are flexible answers to a question that can be very confusing at times.
Funny what sticks with you throughout a career!