What Industry Needs from Architectural Languages: A Survey

I. Malavolta, P. Lago, H. Muccini, P. Pelliccione, A. Tang

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Many times we are faced with the proliferation of definitions, concepts, languages, and tools in certain (research) topics. But often there is a gap between what is provided by existing technologies and what is needed by their users. The strengths, limitations, and needs of the available technologies can be dubious. The same applies to software architectures, and specifically to languages designed to represent architectural models. Tens of different architectural languages have been introduced by the research and industrial communities in the last two decades. However, it is unclear if they fulfill the user's perceived needs in architectural description. As a way to plan for next generation languages for architectural description, this study analyzes practitioners' perceived strengths, limitations, and needs associated with existing languages for software architecture modeling in industry. We run a survey by interviewing 48 practitioners from 40 different IT companies in 15 countries. Each participant is asked to fill in a questionnaire of 51 questions. By analyzing the data collected through this study, we have concluded that 1) while practitioners are generally satisfied with the design capabilities provided by the languages they use, they are dissatisfied with the architectural language analysis features and their abilities to define extra-functional properties; 2) architectural languages used in practice mostly originate from industrial development instead of from academic research; 3) more formality and better usability are required of an architectural language. © 1976-2012 IEEE.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)869-891
Number of pages25
JournalIEEE Transactions on Software Engineering
Issue number6
Early online date4 Dec 2012
Publication statusPublished - 2013


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