Monolithic architectures often contain a large amount of highly coupled code. We investigate several variations of this architectural style, based on organization.

Unstructured monoliths

This architectural pattern includes several different variations, including systems with essentially independent classes coordinating as seen in Figure 4-4.

Monolith architectures sometimes contain a collection of loosely related

Figure 4-4. Monolith architectures sometimes contain a collection of loosely related


In Figure 4-4, different modules handle different tasks independently, utilizing shared classes for common functionality. A lack of coherent overarching structure hinders change in this architecture.

Incremental change

Large quantum size hinders incremental change because high coupling requires deploying large chunks of the application. Deploying a single component is difficult because each component is highly coupled to others, requiring change to those components as well.

Guided change with fitness functions

Building fitness functions for monoliths is difficult but not impossible. Because this architectural pattern has existed for a long time, many tools and testing practices have grown around it that can be used to create fitness functions. However, common guided change targets, such as performance and scalability, have traditionally been the Achilles’ heel of monolithic architectures. While developers easily understand monoliths, building good scalability and performance is difficult, largely due to inherent coupling.

Appropriate coupling

A monolithic architecture, with little internal structure outside simple classes, exhibits coupling almost as bad as a Big Ball of Mud. Thus, changes in one portion of the code may have unanticipated side effects in sometimes far-reaching parts of the code base.

Though the evolvability of this architecture is a milder version of the “Big Ball of Mud”. It is quite easy for this architecture to degenerate because there are few structural constraints to prevent it.

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