This case observation describes how an embedded industrial software architecture was “mapped” onto an office layout. It describes a particular type of program architecture that does this mapping rather well. The more a programmer knows what to do, and so may withdraw to his office and do it, the higher the cohesion or completeness. The less s/he has to know about what is going on in other offices, the lower the coupling or disturbance. The project, which made us aware of this, was an embedded system built on the well-known process data-flow architecture. All interprocess communication that carried data was on synchronous, blocking channels. In this programming paradigm, it is possible for a process to refuse to “listen” on a channel while it is busy doing other things. We think that this in a way corresponds to closing the door to an office. When another process needs to communicate with such a process, it will simply be blocked (and descheduled). No queuing is done. The process, or the programmer, need not worry about holding up others. The net result seems to be good isolation of work and easier implementation. The isolation also enables faster pinpointing of where an error may be and, hence, in fixing the error in one place only. Even before the product was shipped, it was possible to keep the system with close to zero known errors. The paradigm described here has become a valuable tool in our toolbox. However, when this paradigm is used, one must also pay attention should complexity start to grow beyond expectations, as it may be a sign of too high cohesion or too little coupling.
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