Software Engineering Institute

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Documenting Software Architectures – eLearning

Software architecture has become a widely accepted conceptual basis for the development of nontrivial software in all application areas and by organizations of all sizes. However, the treatment of architecture to date has largely concentrated on its design and, to a lesser extent, its validation. Effectively documenting an architecture is as important as crafting it; if the architecture is not understood (or worse, misunderstood), it cannot be analyzed effectively or meet its goal as the unifying vision for system and software development. Documentation-based architecture strategies stop short of prescribing documentation standards.

  • How do you document architectures using well-known styles such as service-oriented, client-server, multi-tiered, layered, and so forth?
  • What are effective architecture documentation guidelines?
  • How do you represent architectural elements and the relations among them?
  • How do you document interface semantics and architectural rationale?
  • How do you provide relevant architectural information to important stakeholders?
  • Are there templates for architecture documentation?

This online course provides in-depth coverage of effective software architecture documentation practices that meet the needs of the entire architecture stakeholder community. This course presents the information in the context of prevailing prescriptive models, including the Rational Unified Process (RUP), the Siemens Four Views software approach, the IEEE 1471-2000 standard, and the Unified Modeling Language (UML). The course is based on the bookDocumenting Software Architectures: Views and Beyond.
Learners will have three months to complete the course. Upon completing all course elements, the learner is awarded an electronic certificate of course completion and 1.5 Continuing Education Units (CEUs).

Who should attend?

This course is targeted at

  • software architects and software lead designers whose jobs include producing architectural documentation
  • software technical managers whose jobs include overseeing and/or managing the architecture definition process
  • software engineers who may be expected to use architecture documentation

This online course is designed for independent learners to quickly gain knowledge, at their convenience, of the best practices for documenting software architectures.


  • principles of sound documentation
  • viewtypes, styles, and views
  • advanced concepts such as refinement, context diagrams, variability, software interfaces, and how to document interfaces
  • documenting the behavior of software elements and software systems
  • choosing relevant views
  • building a documentation package using a seven-part template

Documenting Software Architectures-eLearning will require a minimum of 12 hours of study time. Once registered, learners will be granted 24-hour-a-day access to the course material for three months.

Learners can proceed through the course at their convenience and can review and repeat individual sections as often as needed.


This online course shows software architects how to produce a comprehensive documentation package for a software architecture that is useful to stakeholders. After attending this course, participants will have a better understanding of

  • the basic principles of sound technical documentation
  • a stakeholder- and view-based approach to documenting software architectures
  • which views are available for documenting an architecture
  • how to choose the set of views that will be most valuable to the architecture’s community of stakeholders
  • the information needed to document a view
  • how to use formal and informal notations (including UML) to represent elements and relations in a view
  • how to document a software interface and software behavior
  • the information needed to document information that applies across views


Before registering for this course, participants must

  • have experience in designing and developing software-intensive systems
  • understand the basic concepts of software architecture. If desired, they can gain this understanding by completing the Software Architecture: Principles and Practices course, which is available as instructor-led classroom training and as eLearning

Before beginning this course, the learner must acquire a copy of the text book: Documenting Software Architectures: Views and Beyond. The textbook can be purchased through the following link:

To access the SEI Learning Portal, your computer must have the following:

  • Operating Systems: Windows 98 / NT 4.0 / Windows 2000 / Windows XP / Windows Vista / Windows 7 / Mac OS X
  • Browsers: Microsoft Internet Explorer 5.5 or above / Mozilla Firefox
  • Configure your browser to allow pop-ups from this site
    • Explorer: Tools/Internet Options/Privacy
    • Firefox: Tools/Options/Content


  • Thirteen modules of instruction narrated by the SEI instructor
  • Topic quizzes to confirm understanding
  • Optional exercises with solution guidance
  • References and additional resources related to the subject matter
  • Concluding self-assessment
  • Downloadable copy of the course presentation slides

This course is presented in the form of narrated instructional pages. Self-assessments following each topic presented assist with thorough comprehension of the subject matter. A final, comprehensive assessment helps the learner to identify areas that require further study.

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