A Trace in the Sand

by Ruth Malan





Architects Architecting Architecture  

Hatter (by Sara B.)April 2014


It's Me Day!



What's a Trace?

My Trace is a playground for developing ideas, for exploring architecture and the role of architects. It is a journal of discovery, and traces my active reflection. I've been journaling "out loud" here for over eight years. To get a sense of the span, calibre and contribution of this body of work, there's a selection of traces linked here. When reading a trace in isolation, it may feel like you've been dropped into a thought fray unprepared for the action that is already in progress. Just hang with that feeling. You're smart, and my Trace assumes that. You'll get your bearing quickly. Just give it a chance.

Oooo, look: I'm a people, I'm a people!! [Pauses dancing on table to say: Thanks Grady!!] So happy to see Grady Booch's Architecture Handbook site being brought back up. I hope that he reconstitutes his architecture journal and starts keeping it again. His writing there inspired this Trace... eight years ago... Yes. Eight. Eight I tell you!

And look what Peter Bakker did! Have you tried the connect-the-dots app he's building? So cool!

Image by Sara B.

4/22/14: Busy busy busy...

But. If you look over April's sketchy skeleton traces and start to think this looks like I'd do better using Storify to scrapbook tweets, and you're wondering what all the fuss is about... by all means go back to January and read there. Loads of good stuff. Really. No, really. Loads. And loads. All good. Well, you'll just have to go find out for yourself, won't you?

No Point Left Unmassacred [my modus operandi]

[The first bullet brought to you by Brenda Michelson. ]

More? Sure:


Oh. I'm not done.

My Trace. Feels kinda like this, doesn't it? And this:

"Bang your head against the wall, to activate your brain" -- Thea, lyrics to a song about school :-)

You're welcome.

Um. Why do I feel like this warning was targeted directly at me:

“The primary indication, to my thinking, of a well-ordered mind is a man's ability to remain in one place and linger in his own company. 2. Be careful, however, lest this reading of many authors and books of every sort may tend to make you discursive and unsteady.” -- Seneca: Letters from a Stoic







Architecture Sustainability


Image source: shamelessly hoisted off the internetz



To Feature Flag or Not to Feature Flag

t feature flag or not to feature flag


Feature Toggle


Code Snips


Make time for it!


reading code

Source for that cartoon is Abtruse Goose O.P.C.

And, by analogy:

Behind the scenes on your project??


Oh, yeah, I wrote a thing back in January...

4/11/14: I am enjoying placing that side-by-side with:

I'll have to write a post on the relationships, but Michael Feather's notion of "process echoes" in the code relates to Michael Leyton's notion of "memory" in physical structures. The question, with respect to code, is how far can that take us, and how much can/should we rely on that. Which gets back to a bit of discussion that happened following the code archeology conference...

For now, suffice it to say: We'll leave the binary thinking up to computers, and strive for balance in our approach to code, right? Right? Riiiiiiight? Let's hear the refrain: Judgment factors. And factors and refactors.



Twitter, Listen Up

I can't believe Twitter is still doing this:


after I said this. I mean, really.

They could say "thanks for being so glued to us you saw us in our awkward down time" or something... but "thanks for noticing"?!? The world stops. We notice. Okay?


Leadership as Service

a Booch kindness

Grady Booch graciously tweeted a postively framed heads-up to my Architecture Definition trace. Thanks also to Gene Hughson for retweeting and thus magnifying Grady's kindness. That collegial support means so much to me! But it is also a great example of the style of leadership that fosters and grows community.




Word to the wise: follow JP De Vooght -- the man is genius at "what next." By which I mean, he has just the right next insight or reading to recommend, to stretch one's thinking. It takes both discernment and a broad and deep compass of one's own, to be able to do that. Awesomeness!

Also Peter Bakker, because he is the best thing that ever happened to me on the internet! :-) Er, I mean, because he's interesting and fun and he investigates and explores topics that are really pivotal to things visual and architecture. He "follows his Bliss" (area of interest/passion), diving deep into the topic and sharing what he finds with joy and generosity and it is a pleasure to learn with and from him.

And Paul Harland because he's one of those "da Vinci"-styled studiers of such a range of topics, he's just dripping with systems thinking interestingness. (And he writes a great blog. Next post please Paul!)

And Stuart Boardman. Because he is a man of integrity and action, and interesting and wise and generous and kind and ... a person of breadth and depth of encounter... and and and great tweet stream, great conversations, great blog, great friendship.

And Grady Booch because... well, for one thing he did that astonishing thing of tweet-mentioning one of my traces (and did so with a generously positive framing). Some people are chary with their social capital -- hording it and relying on everyone else's generous spending of social capital to elevate them in the twitter stack-ranking of follower counts. But Grady is gracious and generous and kind, as well as awesomely smart and wise.

And... I'm going to have to leave some folk for another Friday roast. :-) It may not look like I'm busy, but I'm already doing 20 things at once today.

4/21/14: Oh yes, and this was a neat creative twist on #ff -- thank you Peter (and Grady for the RT):

creative twist



A Giant, A Giant I Tell You!

Eb Rechtin -- a mind to fall in love with!!

No... RTs...

Oh noes -- ze tweeple don't know who Eb Rechtin is???? Hangs head in shame. I have disserved you! Okay, okay, let me remedy. Eb Rechtin (the late, sadly) was a giant of our field (system architecting). The pointer in that tweet is to:

It is a lovely overview/introduction to systems architecting and the Rechtin gestalt. It has gems in it like:


Next time I break all my own taboos, and irritate you with an imperative, take me seriously. It's going to be that good. Okay?

Smiles. I'm doing performance art here. But it is that good. And I am that excited.

4/14/14: Put Eb's paper alongside:

Still need no stinkin' architects, huh?

"The problems, said Barr, made it theoretically possible that a software failure would both trap the throttle in a wide open position and disable the very systems that should notice the problem." -- Why Toyota Is Settling Its Sudden-Acceleration Cases


So Many Uses

so many uses for this image! :-)


No Blood Red Moon Tonight :-(

Wait WUT?????

Awww mannnnn.... well, I hope you get to see the blood red moon/eclipse tonight...



mix em



Happy Birthday to my dear friend. Thank you for all your encouragement and sharing of stories that warm, lead, enlighten and lighten me, as well as your care-full pointers these many years. I treasure the gift of your friendship.



Happy Easter, or Happy Spring or Fall, Or Magnificent Beneficence of Chocolate Day to you.


Busy busy busy...

But. If you miss me, or you're new here and you're wondering what all the fuss is about... by all means go back to January and read there. Loads of good stuff. Really. No, really. Loads. And loads. All good. Well, you'll just have to go find out for yourself, won't you?


I also write at:

- Bredemeyer Resources for  Architects

- Trace In the Sand Blog




Journal Archives

- Journal Map

- storylines tubemap by Peter Bakker



- January
- February
- March
- Current


- January
- February
- March
- April
- May
- June
- July
- August
- September
- October
- November
- December


- January
- February
- March
- April
- May
- June
- July
- August
- September
- October
- November
- December



- January

- February

- March

- April

- May

- June

- July

- August

- September

- October

- November

- December


More Archives


February Traces

- Architecture: Decisions

- A Late Quartet

- Distinguishing Architecture and Role of the Architect Workshops

- Conways Law

- On Patterns and Principles

- Conceptual, Logical and Physical Architecture




Chief Scientists

- Grady Booch

- Martin Fowler

Enterprise Architects

- John Ayre

-Peter Bakker

- Stuart Boardman

- Todd Biske

- Adrian Campbell

- Louis Dietvorst

- Leo de Sousa

- Johan Den Haan

- Chris Eaton

- Roger Evernden

- Ondrej Galik

- John Gotze

- Tom Graves

- Melvin Greer

- Adrian Grigoriu

- Carl Haggerty

- Dion Hinchcliffe

- Paul Homan

- Brian Hopkins

- James Hooper

- Martin Howitt

- Kristian Hjort-Madsen

- Alan Inglis

- Jeff Kennedy

- Janne J. Korhonen

- Nick Malik

- Alex Matthews

- Brenda Michelson


- Sethuraj Nair

- Doug Newdick

- Steve Nimmons

- Jim Parnitzke

- Ric Phillips

- Chris Potts

- Randall Satchell

- Praba Siva

- Serge Thorn

- Bas van Gils

- Jaco Vermeulen

- Richard Veryard

- Mike Walker

- Tim Westbrock

Architects and Architecture

- Charlie Alfred

- "Doc" Andersen

- Tad Anderson

- Jason Baragry

- Simon Brown

- Peter Cripps

- Rob Daigneau

- Udi Dahan

- Tony DaSilva

- Matt Deacon

- Peter Eeles

- George Fairbanks

- Kevin Francis

- Sam Gentile

- Simon Guest

- Philip Hartman

- Todd Hoff (highly recommended)

- Gregor Hohpe

- Gene Hughson

- Steve Jones

- Frank Kelly

- Kirk Knoernschild

- Philippe Kruchten

- Sjaak Laan

- Dave Linthicum

- Anna Liu

- Nick Malik

- Chirag Mehta

- JD Meier

- Kris Meukens

- Gabriel Morgan

- Robert Morschel

- Dan Pritchett

- Chris Potts

- Bob Rhubart

- Arnon Rotem-Gal-Oz

- Carlos Serrano-Morales

- Shaji Sethu

- Leo Shuster

- Collin Smith

- Brian Sondergaard

- Michael Stahl

- Daniel Stroe

- Gavin Terrill

- Jack van Hoof

- Steve Vinoski

- Mike Walker

- Richard West

- Rebecca Wirfs-Brock

- Rodney Willis

- Eion Woods

- Brian Zimmer

Architect Professional Organizations





Agile and Lean

- Alistair Cockburn

- NOOP.nl

- hackerchickblog

- Johanna Rothman


Agile and Testing

- Elisabeth Hendrickson

- Elizabeth Keogh

Software Reuse

- Vijay Narayanan

Other Software Thought Leaders

- Jeff Atwood

- Scott Berkun

- CapGeminini's CTOblog

- John Daniels

- Brian Foote

- Joel Spolosky

CTOs and CIOs

- Rebecca Parsons

- Werner Vogels

CEOs (Tech)


CEOs (Web 2.0)

- Don MacAskill (SmugMug)

Innovate/Tech Watch

- Barry Briggs

- Tim Brown (IDEO)

- BoingBoing

- Mary-Jo Foley's All About Microsoft

- Gizmodo

- Dion Hinchcliffe

- Oren Hurvitz

- Diego Rodriguez

- slashdot

- smoothspan

- The Tech Chronicles

- Wired's monkey_bites



- Marci Segal


Visual Thinking

- Amanda Lyons


Social Networking/Web 2.0+ Watch

- bokardo.com

- Mashable


Visual Thinking

- Dave Gray

- Dan Roam

- David Sibbet (The Grove)

- Scott McLoud


Leadership Skills

- Presentation Zen


Strategy, BI and Competitive Intelligence

- Freakonomics blog

- Tom Hawes

- Malcom Ryder


Um... and these
- Nick Carr

- Tom Peters


Green Thinking

- Sylvia Earle, TED

- CNN Money Business of Green videos

- Matter Network


- xkcd

- Buttercup Festival

- Dinosaur comics

- geek&poke

- phd comics

- a softer world

- Dilbert


I also write at:


- Strategy, Architecture and Agility: The Art of Change: Fractal and Emergent, 2010 

- Innovation and Agile Architecting: Getting Past ‘But’: Finding Opportunity and Making It Happen, 2008

- EA and Business Strategy: Enterprise Architecture as Strategic Differentiator, 2005

- The Role of the Architect:: What it Takes to be a Great Enterprise Architect, 2004


Ruth Malan has played a pioneering role in the software architecture field, helping to define architectures and the process by which they are created and evolved, and helping to shape the role of the software, systems and enterprise architect. She and Dana Bredemeyer created the Visual Architecting Process which emphasizes: architecting for agility, integrity and sustainability. Creating architectures that are good, right and successful, where good: technically sound; right: meets stakeholders goals and fits context and purpose; and successful: actually delivers strategic outcomes. Translating business strategy into technical strategy and leading the implementation of that strategy. Applying guiding principles like: the extraordinary moment principle; the minimalist architecture principle; and the connect the dots principle. Being agile. Creating options.

Feedback: I welcome input, discussion and feedback on any of the topics in this Trace in The Sand Journal, my blog, and the Resources for Architects website, or, for that matter, anything relevant to architects, architecting and architecture! I can be reached at

Restrictions on Use: If you wish to quote or paraphrase original work on this page, please properly acknowledge the source, with appropriate reference to this web page. Thank you.


- Links to tools and other resources



- Other Interests






Copyright © 2013 by Ruth Malan
Page Created:July 1, 2013
Last Modified: April 22, 2014