Reflections at WICSA

WICSA was fun.  I usually find the most I can hope for in a conference is 1 or 2 papers that are really interesting, but I think WICSA cleared 5, so it was well worthwhile.  What I particularly enjoy about conferences is hearing how people verbally describe the ideas and challenges in the field.  You can get so much more nuance and emphasis from hearing people talk about their research, compared to just reading papers.
A great example was the final keynote for the conference, by Alexander Wolf.  He covered reflections on his personal history working in software architecture, but as one of the “fathers” of the field, his talk was also a history of early software architecture research.  It was fun to play spot the co-authors in the audience and also among other acquaintances.
He talked about the importance of simulation and experimentation for architecture, and called for more work to be done in the area.  At NICTA, Jenny Liu and Paul Brebner have been leading work in these areas, particularly for performance analysis of enterprise architectures.  They’ve been getting huge interest from industry.  It’s a very promising approach and I can support the observation that simulation and experimentation are critically important to the discipline of software architecture.
Alexander Wolf was also previously involved with Software Configuration Management research, which is an interest of mine.  He didn’t really elaborate on that line of work, but he did mention a paper of his discussing the relatedness of software architecture and configuration management.  I think there’s still a lot more that can be said in this area, particularly concerning architecture evolution.