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7 posts tagged with "architecture"

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· 3 min read
Alvaro Jose

The singleton pattern has got a bad reputation over the years due to be widely overused in the incorrect use cases. With the proliferation of microservices, have APIs become the new singleton?

The Problem

APIs, or application programming interfaces, have become a ubiquitous part of modern software development. They allow different systems and applications to communicate with one another, enabling the creation of complex, interconnected systems that can share data and functionality. However, there has been a growing concern that APIs are being overused, leading to a proliferation of unnecessarily complex and fragile systems that are difficult to maintain and scale.

One reason for the perceived overuse of APIs is the ease with which they can be implemented. With the abundance of API management tools and frameworks available, it is relatively straightforward to expose a set of functionality as an API and make it available to other systems. This has led to a proliferation of APIs, many of which are redundant or unnecessary, adding unnecessary complexity to the overall system.

Another issue is the lack of standardization in the API ecosystem. Each API is typically designed to meet the specific needs of the system it was created for, resulting in a wide variety of different designs and conventions. This can make it difficult for developers to understand and use APIs from other systems, as they may have to learn and adapt to new conventions and patterns each time they encounter a new API.

In addition to these issues, the reliance on APIs can also lead to fragile systems that are difficult to maintain and scale. When multiple systems are tightly coupled through APIs, a change to one system can have cascading effects on others, leading to unexpected behavior and potential failures. This can make it difficult to make changes or updates to a system without the risk of breaking something else.

There are also concerns about the security of APIs. As they allow systems to communicate with one another, they can also provide a potential entry point for attackers to gain access to sensitive data or functionality. Properly securing APIs can be a complex and time-consuming task, and if not done correctly, can lead to significant vulnerabilities.

The Solution

So, what can be done to address these issues? One solution is to use APIs more judiciously, carefully evaluating whether an API is truly necessary before implementing it. This can help reduce the overall complexity of the system and make it easier to maintain and scale.

It's also important to adopt API design standards and guidelines, which can help ensure that APIs are consistent and easy to understand and use. Finally, proper API security practices should be implemented to protect against potential vulnerabilities.

· 4 min read
Alvaro Jose

The Context

Cloud and infrastructure as code have revolutionized our industry. They allowed us to be able to procure infrastructure in a simple, adaptable way.
This allowed us to move from writing huge monolithic applications to write microservices that interact between them.
One of the most accepted definition of a microservice can be expressed as:

A self-contained portion of code that does not share resources with other services, can be deployed independently, and should be easy to rewrite in a small portion of time.

This sounds great when we talk about individual parts of a software projects. Nevertheless, when thinking about systems and how they operate, There is a point to make about granularity as software does never work fully isolated. It requires interactions with other systems to fulfill their purpose.

Most of the monolithic applications of the past had an issue of being over-engineered to allow changes that might never happen.

Could that also happen with microservices?

The Issues

Clarity Of The Domain

When a system grows too much in small pieces, it becomes more and more complex to understand the big picture.
When pieces are too small, domain events start becoming exchange of information in between nodes of a network. All this removes cohesion on the knowledge over the domain of a system, making it difficult to grasp the real intention and capabilities of concepts and actors across a system.

Babel tower Issue

The more parts a system has, the less heterogeneous it becomes. This at the same time translates into a more complex environment with more integrations, frameworks and bigger learning curves that affects delivery. There need to be a balance of when and where in a system a new technology is added. Decisions must be based on needs and not on preferences.

Implicit runtime dependencies

The more a system get split, the more dependency on certain node it will have. This tends to cause more dependencies in between the pieces of your infrastructure-based puzzle where you start having god infrastructure points that become single point of failure, or you have a chain of dependent infra that need to be deployed in a go or certain order.

Hidden Complexity

The more your microservice environment grows, the more it requires a growing support infrastructure for monitoring, alerting and other services not used as part of the main system. This normally is a separate effort which has its cost. The more a system grows, those hidden complexities become a dependency for all the nodes in the system, making it a complex task to evolve and change those dependencies.

Why… if YAGNI

One of the main ideas of microservices was to be able to validate assumptions fast. Before bootstrapping new services or infrastructure, there is a need to ask ourselves about the existence of a service or infrastructure that contains the domain knowledge required for the experiment in the current ecosystem. If we are not careful, experiments won't be experiments. They will be MVPs, where domain knowledge is re-implemented, just for having it as a standalone node on the system.

Repeating Yourself

When we create pieces of code that are independent, there is always a certain level of bootstrapping that is required and repeated in each node of our systems. This will cause not only a set of duplicated code, but also has a development time cost attached to it. Bootstrapping a project in a high granularity system can be complex to standardize.

Microservices, the cloud, and infrastructure as a service have definitely revolutionized our industry, nevertheless as in everything there is a need for balance. Making sure we use the right tool for the job, and we don't over-engineer things, not only at a code level but also at infrastructure level, as everything has a cost.


In conclusion, a macro infrastructure due to microservice obsession can lead to increased complexity and overhead costs, as well as challenges in making changes and updates to the system. While microservices can offer benefits such as increased scalability and flexibility, it is important for organizations to carefully consider their specific needs and choose the right level of granularity for their architecture.

· 2 min read
Alvaro Jose

I have observed quite a few articles lately that elaborate on issues with TDD. Nevertheless, they focused on the first letter but miss the focus of the other two letters.

Not A Testing Strategy

If you take anything out of this article, please think about this quote:

If TDD was about testing it would have been called TDT (test driven testing).

The fact that we do test upfront in TDD does not mean at all that there is a direct relationship with a testing strategy, and as many preach, unit testing is not enough to create robust software.

A Design Strategy

TDD is actually a Design Strategy, this is why the 2 last letter are for driven development. This means that your final code is being moved by those tests and not the other way around.

The design that TDD will move you towards to is minimalistic. Reducing the tendency of overengineering solutions when you don't need them. This brings a reducing time to market, by reducing the accidental complexity.

When doing TDD most developers have the complexity of letting go their egos, the problem when people fight against the practices is because they think to know better. Nevertheless, it tends to generate waste because most code optimizations tend to be premature and most extensibility points will never be modified.

There are places where TDD does not fit, for example while investigating a technology through a spike or PoC because in these cases, the person is exploring knowledge not generating value. In other cases, TDD allows you to bring value in the shortest way possible.


If you are an experienced developer, do not discard TDD because you think you know better, allow it to challenge you. If you are a new developer, learn from the different ways of doing things and understand the value, don't take articles at face value.

· 4 min read
Alvaro Jose

In software development, over the last years we always talk about on cross-functional teams, as a good split of responsibilities to provide autonomy in teams. What does that mean? Why is this so? And what does it look like?

History & types of teams

It's probably easier to see the evolution of team culture as a chronology, as it has been an evolving thing.

Specialization-Based Teams

Traditionally, when we had only big monolithic applications, teams have been split by their expertise. This meaning all the quality assurance, Frontend, Backend roles will be in a team with their expertise-based peers. This might look like the next image:

What are the pros and cons of this model:

  • ✔️ Improve depth of knowledge from peers.
  • ✔️ No dependency on individuals, the Bus factor tends to be bigger than 1.
  • ❌ Bottlenecks in between teams, due to different priorities and timelines.
  • ❌ Lack of breath of knowledge.
  • ❌ Low domain expertise due to coverage of all domains.
  • ❌ Continuous context switch due to support of multiple domains.
  • ❌ Design issues due Conway's Law relation in between communication patterns and architecture.
  • ❌ Eventually, teams grow too big and have management issues due to Dunbar's Number on human relationships.

Specialized Cross-functional Teams

Due to the shortcomings of the previous model and the raise of microservices and some concepts from DDD, the intention of splitting teams was to make sure a specific domain and their solutions were cover by the same people.
This allows more independence and control over what is required to fulfill the needs of that domain.

This might look like the next image:

What are the pros and cons of this model:

  • ✔️ Common domain expertise, allowing faster and informed decisions.
  • ✔️ Single domain will not require a lot of context switch.
  • ✔️ Helps design on microservices environments due to Conway's Law.
  • ✔️ Teams tend to stay small and follow Dunbar's Number on human relationships (ex. Amazon 2 large pizza team size).
  • ❌ Bottlenecks in between team members, due to process dependency.
  • ❌ Lack of depth of knowledge from peers.
  • ❌ Lack of breath of knowledge being shared.
  • ❌ Bus factor tends to be small.

T-shaped Cross-Functional Teams

The previous organization helped many teams to be able to focus and do the right thing in the right moment.

Nevertheless, it lacked the focus on collaboration and support inside the team, as each person has their small set of responsibilities can easily cause bottlenecks inside a single team.

T-shaped development tries to solve this by making sure all team members can work in every part of the solution (represented by the horizontal part of the 'T'). Nevertheless, each member can have his own preferred field of expertise (represented by the vertical part of the 'T').
This has been enabled by the lower complexity on the tooling and entry-level learning curve to most of the expertises.

What are the pros and cons of this model:

  • ✔️ No bottlenecks as all team members can chip in to the different needs.
  • ✔️ Common domain expertise, allowing faster and informed decisions.
  • ✔️ Single domain will not require a lot of context switch.
  • ✔️ Helps design on microservices environments due to Conway's Law.
  • ✔️ Teams tend to stay small and follow Dunbar's Number on human relationships (ex. Amazon 2 large pizza team size).
  • ✔️ Shared tasks improve a team member depth of knowledge.
  • ✔️ Shared tasks improve a team member breath of knowledge.
  • ✔️ As knowledge is spread inside the team, the Bus Factor is not an issue.


Time has improved things for all teams, and we are probably not at the end of the transformation of teams. Nevertheless, it is good for companies and individuals to adapt to changes in the environment.

· 5 min read
Alvaro Jose

On our previous installments, we discussed the smells that can happen when splitting microservices, and the strategies that exist to make them as independent as possible. But how do we define boundaries? How do we define the process that our microservice is in charge off?

Event Storming

Event storming is a technique that is part of DDD. But, what is Event storming?, the definition on Wikipedia is:

A workshop-based method to quickly find out what is happening in the domain of a software program. The business process is "stormed out" as a series of domain events.

This process is run with stickies in a physical or digital board during a session, and requires the 'experts' on the process to be present to provide the context what/whom/how. The outcome is an understanding of the business process, not the technical one. To be able to separate them into different steps with clear responsibilities.

Step-By-Step Guide

let's do an example of how a company sets up our internet connection

Prepare a board and the people for the session

Event storming requires people to share a common view and brainstorm and discuss on it. This process takes to count time as a dimension. And has multiple types of stickies that can be used.
You can see an example board on the next image:

Regarding the Stickies, their color represent a specific meaning[1]:

  • Events (orange): Represent the factual events and anything that is relevant to a domain expert.
  • Commands (blue): These are requests to do something. They can originate from a user or system or by another event.
  • System (pink): These represent systems involved in the domain. They may issue commands or receive commands along with triggering events.
  • User (yellow): These are human users involved in the process. They may be a single person or a department/team.
  • Aggregate (tan): This is the first level of categorization and can be thought of as the “thing” that a group of events operates on.
  • Read Model (green): This represents data that may be critical for a user or system to decide.
  • Policy (gray): These represent standards or rules that may need to be executed, such as rules for a compliance policy.

Define the Events of your system

Events are the most important information of our board. They represent facts regarding the process and helps encapsulate the knowledge of the 'experts'.
As we mention before, time is a significant dimension. A process always happens in a period of time. Starting by organizing this 'things' that happen in a timeline is a good way to start.

In our example, you can see on the previous image we go from checking coverage, to creating a user, to creating a contract and connecting our user to the network.

Identify the Systems involved (Optional)

The intent of this step is to identify the existing systems and their interdependency. When we discuss systems, they can be internal or external.

In our example, all starts with the website, but soon enough it becomes apparent most of the process is taken care by the monolith.

This step is optional in the case you have a greenfield. Nevertheless, I highly recommend it if you are splitting a monolith.

Add the Actors

These are real people who are part of the process, they tend to be the starting point of a chain of events, or even on a manual process we are trying to automate the executors of the individual step.

In our case, the user is the one starting the process, but there needs to be a technician doing the last steps manually.

Connect the dots with Commands

Now we are left with events that are done by someone and take effect in parts of our system. But we are missing the cause and effect that made this look this way.

Commands allow exactly this, is a specific action or decision that will push our system into a certain direction.

Commands can be positive or negative actions, causing bifurcation and showing different cases that our system needs to cope with.

Define Bounded Context

now we are left to define where each of the sub-process that conform our system starts and ends. This is done by grouping the stickies with an enclosing and giving a noun + verb to it, as it's a sub-process and it evokes action.

Now you have a set of split actions that can become their microservices and provide part of the process independently.

Create Capabilities Matrix (Optional)

Now, with the bounded context, we can start defining the capabilities of our services. This is straightforward to express in a matrix.

Network ManagementCheck coverage
Enable Network
3rd party Hardware management integration
User ManagementCreate User
User Email Verification
contract ManagementCreate Contract
User Email Verification
3rd party digital signature integration

Devise your Goal Architecture (Optional)

Knowing our current architecture, it's good to think where we want to go.
This is not only a technical challenge, but an organizational challenge due to Conway's law. If we would like to be successful in splitting a monolith our communication, meaning the teams structure involved, need to resemble this target state.

Define a plan on how to split the Monolith (Optional)

A change so big as the one shown on the previous image can be overwhelming for an organization and create a paralysis and doubts. It's always good to split the problem in steps to understand progress and be always on a better state. This will improve morale.


· 3 min read
Alvaro Jose

On the previous installment of this series, we discussed the pitfalls that could happen when we split a monolith into microservices. In specific, we talked about creating what are called microliths.

Given that you have followed the recommendations on designing your domains correctly. Today we are going to elaborate on patterns to remove that synchronous communication in between 'microservices'. This will help our services to become more resilient.

The Patterns

Circuit Breakers

The most simple solution we can go for is called circuit breakers. As it implies, is just a piece of code that upon multiple request failed to a downstream service will fail silently and allow service to resume their normal behavior.

What are we solving and what are we letting unsolved:

  • ✔️ We don’t fail continuously if some other service fails.
  • ❌ We silently don’t finish the entire process requested.
  • ❌ We require all chain of dependencies to be called.
  • ❌ We force other services to scale to our needs.
  • ❌ Data is mutable, so errors will be propagated and not solvable.

Outbox Pattern

The next level in solving our microlithic issue is to decouple our services using Pub/Sub to exchange models in between services.
Our service will consume and store the necessary information to run the process locally, and will broadcast the outcome models. This will mean there will always be a strong consistency in the outbox, and eventual consistency on the service database (if it exists).

What are we solving and what are we letting unsolved:

  • ✔️ We don’t fail continuously if some other service fails.
  • ✔️ We always finish our process and promise the rest will be done.
  • ✔️ We just require our service to do what we promise.
  • ✔️ Fast services will be fast, and slow services can go slow.
  • ❌ Data is mutable, so errors will be propagated and not solvable.

Event Sourcing

The last level is event sourcing. The idea is to use the events that generated a specific state and not use the calculated state that a service can provide us.

This allows a higher resilience due to the immutability of the data. In this case, calculation issues of the past can be solved, as we can reprocess the entire set of events that took us to a certain state.

Conclusion and follow-ups

These are some of the patterns that can make our services more independent and resilient. Nevertheless, each of them has a different complexity, meaning it also affects the complexity of our code. For this, we need to make sure we use the correct tool for the job.

· 4 min read
Alvaro Jose

The Monolith

We have all at this point encounter the big service that jumpstarted the business. It's always good to find it or know it existed. It shows that there was an intent to not resolve every architectural problem before we even knew we had a business.

Nevertheless, it tends to outgrow itself and become more a pain than a solution. Some of these pains are:

  • We all work on the same code base, and conflicts and side effects start to happen.
  • You need to release the entire solution, even if different teams have different cycles.
  • There are code freezes to go through validation cycles.
  • It scales as a whole, not only the portion that has an increase in traffic.

Due to these pains, microservices were created. To give team/domain independence to create focused solutions on a business that has already been validated.

The Microservices

Let's start with a definition of a microservice:

Microservices are an architectural and organizational approach to software development where software is composed of small independent services that communicate over well-defined APIs. These services are owned by small, self-contained teams.


All sounds like flowers and happiness when we talk about microservice. Nevertheless, does microservices solve the entire issue by itself?

Have you encountered the next cases in a microservice architecture?

  • Before we release a new version, we need to sync deploys with another team.
  • Our application was down, but is not our issue.
  • Our service was working and scaling fine until the team X started using us.
  • And more…

What is happening?


The smells mention before are caused by what Jonas Boner call Microliths, a great word for what is happening here.
Even if we think this are 'independent' services, synchronous communication can cause side effects we don't want:

  • There can be cascading events between your services.
  • Your domain boundaries are not clear because you don’t own the entire process.
  • Slow services are forced to scale by faster services requirements.
  • There is additional latency on the network calls.

What got lost in translation?

Having microliths comes from multiple misconceptions we have. Some of them are:

Domains != Resources

Every so often, when we divide the monolith, we think about domains being resources. Due to how we normally have divided API's and DB's as we think about splitting what already exists and not about extracting the processes being achieved.

When thinking about a microservice, we should think about what part of the process it is trying to solve, this will help us define good boundaries for our bounded context.

When we think in a process, data is secondary. The process will require different pieces of existing data to fulfill their capabilities, and it is ok for it to own its copy of what is needed to fulfill his mission.

Independence != Single Source

A single source of data does not mean independence, as whenever your software requires complementary data, it will have to acquire it from somewhere else, what means a direct dependency. This also affects boundaries as you must enter other team's domain.

If you strive for independence, copy the information you require for your process, even if it exists somewhere else.

Fast != Synchronous

Humans think that a direct response is always faster than sending out a message. While occasionally this is true, in microservices this could start a cascade of synchronous calls from one service to the next one, leaving our users in a timeout limbo.

Think if really your system requires calling others directly or if you can message them to start their process.

Resilience != Complete

Making sure the entire process has been completed, is normally confused by resiliency. Resiliency only refers to the capability to complete the process.
If we have well-defined contracts in between our pieces, we don't need to finish things synchronously, we can promise our users things will happen. And let our services do their work at their speed.

Conclusion and follow-ups

Are we doomed?

The answer is no, we are not doomed! We can design our services with the correct division using some DDD tooling and also use the correct tools to decouple our microservices.
Let's talk about this on the next chapters of this series.