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Software architectures are considered crucial because they are the earliest blueprints for target products and at the right level for achieving system-wide qualities. Existing methods of architecture design still face the challenge of bridging the gap between software requirements and architectures in practice. The emerging methods that focus on design decisions and rationale provide little support for deriving target architectures. In this paper we propose a decision- centric architecture design approach, which models issues, solutions, decisions, and rationale as the core elements of architecture design and the key notions to direct the derivation of target architectures. The approach transits from requirements to architectures through a process including issue eliciting, solution exploiting, solution synthesizing, and architecture deciding. We implement the automated synthesis of candidate architecture solutions from various issue solutions, and provide a way to capture comprehensive design decisions and rationale during this design process. We finally illustrate the applicability of this approach with a case study.
Date of Conference: 18-21 Feb. 2008