An alternative approach to “easiest first” is “highest value first” — find the most critical part of the system and build evolutionary behavior around it first. Companies may take this approach for several reasons. First, if architects are convinced that they want to pursue an evolutionary architecture, choosing the highest value portion first indicates commitment. Second, for companies still evaluating these ideas, their architects may be curious as to how applicable these techniques are within their ecosystem. Thus, by choosing the highest value part first, they demonstrate the long-term value proposition of evolutionary architecture. Third, if architects have doubts that these ideas can work for their application, vetting the concepts via the most valuable part of the system provides actionable data as to whether they want to proceed.


Many companies lament the lack of testing their systems have. If developers find themselves in a code base with anemic or no testing, they may decide to add some critical tests before undertaking the more ambitious move to evolutionary architecture.

It is generally frowned upon for developers to undertake a project that only adds tests to a code base. Management looks upon this activity with suspicion, especially if new feature implementation is delayed. Rather, architects should combine increasing modularity with high-level functional tests. Wrapping functionality with unit tests provides better scaffolding for engineering practices such as test-driven development (TDD) but takes time to retrofit into a code base. Instead, developers should add coarse-grained functional tests around some behavior before restructuring the code, allowing you to verify that the overall system behavior hasn’t changed because of the restructuring.

Testing is a critical component to the incremental change aspect of evolutionary architecture, and fitness functions leverage tests aggressively. Thus, at least some level of testing enables these techniques, and a strong correlation exists between comprehensiveness of testing and ease of implementing an evolutionary architecture.

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