Engineering the Future of Software
November 13–14, 2016: Training
November 14–16, 2016: Tutorials & Conference
San Francisco, CA

Evolutionary architectures

Neal Ford (ThoughtWorks)
10:45am–12:15pm Tuesday, 11/15/2016
Average rating: ****.
(4.25, 12 ratings)

Prerequisite knowledge

  • An understanding of current architectural patterns

What you'll learn

  • Learn how to build architectures that gracefully evolve over time


The software development ecosystem exists in a state of dynamic equilibrium, where any new tool, framework, or technique leads to disruption and the establishment of a new equilibrium. Predictability is impossible when the foundation architects plan against changes constantly in unexpected ways. Instead, prefer evolvability over predictability. For many years, software architecture was described as the “parts that are hard to change later.” But then microservices showed that if architects build evolvability into the architecture, change becomes easier. An evolutionary architecture supports incremental, guided change as a first principle across multiple dimensions. Neal Ford illustrates how to achieve evolutionary architectures and how to retrofit existing systems to support better evolution.

Drawing on concepts from his upcoming book, Neal investigates the family of software architectures that support evolutionary change and explains how to build evolvable systems. Understanding how to evolve architecture requires understanding how architectural dimensions interact; Neal describes how to achieve appropriate coupling between components and services. Incremental change is critical for the mechanics of evolution; Neal covers how to build engineering and DevOps practices to support continuous change. Uncontrolled evolution leads to undesirable side effects; Neal demonstrates how fitness functions build protective, testable scaffolding around critical parts to guide the architecture as it evolves.

Photo of Neal Ford

Neal Ford


Neal Ford is a director, software architect, and meme wrangler at ThoughtWorks, a global IT consultancy that thinks disruptively to deliver technology to address the toughest challenges, all while seeking to revolutionize the IT industry and create positive social change. Neal focuses on designing and building large-scale enterprise applications. He’s an internationally recognized expert on software development and delivery, especially in the intersection of Agile engineering techniques and software architecture. Neal has authored magazine articles, seven books (and counting), and dozens of video presentations and has spoken at hundreds of developers conferences worldwide on the topics of software architecture, continuous delivery, functional programming, and cutting-edge software innovations. Check out his website at He welcomes feedback and can be reached at