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A software architect is a software development expert who makes high-level design choices and tries to enforce technical standards, including software coding standards, tools, and platforms.
The software architect concept began to take hold when object-oriented programming or OOP, was coming into more widespread use (in the late 1990s and early years of the 21st century). OOP allowed ever-larger[quantify] and more complex[quantify] applications to be built, which in turn required increased[quantify] high-level application and system oversight.
The role of software architect generally has certain common traits:[according to whom?]
Software architects make high-level design choices based on their programming experience. In addition, the software architect may sometimes propose technical standards, including coding standards, tools, or platforms.
Software architects may also be engaged in the design of the architecture of the hardware environment, or may focus entirely on the design methodology of the code.
Architects can use various software architectural models that specialize in communicating architecture.
The enterprise architect handles the interaction between the business and IT sides of an organization and is principally involved with determining the AS-IS and TO-BE states[further explanation needed] from a business and IT process perspective. Many organizations are bundling the software architect duties within the role of enterprise architecture.
Other similar titles in use, but without consensus on their exact meaning, include:
- Solution architect, which may refer to a person directly involved in advancing a particular business solution needing interactions between multiple applications. May also refer to an application architect.
- System architect (singular), which is often used as a synonym for application architect. However, if one subscribes to Systems theory and the idea that an enterprise can be a system, then System Architect could also mean enterprise architect.
- Systems architect (plural), which is often used as a synonym for enterprise architect or solution architect.
- Cloud architect (plural), which is a software architect who has deep knowledge about architecting solutions and applications on cloud-based infrastructures.
The table below indicates many of the differences between various kinds of software architects:
|Architect type||Strategic thinking||System interactions||Communication||Design|
|enterprise architect||across projects||highly abstracted||across organization||minimal, high level|
|solutions architect||focused on solution||very detailed||multiple teams||detailed|
|application architect||component re-use, maintainability||centered on single application||single project||very detailed|
- Electrical engineering
- Electronics engineering
- Hardware architecture / hardware architect
- Requirements analysis / requirements engineer
- Software architectural model
- Software architecture
- Software engineering / software engineer
- Systems architecture / systems architect
- Systems design
- Systems engineering / systems engineer