After my retirement from Bank of America in 2005 I founded Architected Futures, LLC as a business framework to develop an enterprise architecture tool suite as a commercial enterprise. As initially envisioned, I was going to have a business partner who focused on consulting activities and I would focus on software development. For a series of reasons the partnership never happened, and I pursued the software development on my own under the LLC umbrella for several years; … changing, evolving, expanding and refining my approach and ideas, experimenting with various tool-sets and slowly building an inventory of code, resources and concepts; but not turning the corner from R&D mode to commercialization.
In 2010 I re-evaluated what I was doing, how I was doing it, and why. What I determined was that my then current operational strategy was not practical. However, all of my motivations and design strategies around the software suite seemed to not only make sense, but they seem to me to make more sense, to have greater utility, and were more technically viable as time moves on. The second thing that happened during that time period was a new introduction into some old thoughts about collaborative technologies. Blending these thoughts I changed my tactics and started a new course targeting the implementation of architectedfutures.net.
Even though I had built and successfully implemented a variety of systems demonstrating critical parts of my envisioned tool suite multiple times during my career at Bank of America, the scale of the task of doing it as a commercial product became obvious as I worked on it over the years. On the other hand, the more I looked the more I began finding open source components that accomplished small pieces of what I wanted to do. Once I had the opportunity to really spend time on the project my eyes opened up in terms of emerging applied technologies, the sophistication of selected open source components, and opportunities for where the tool suite might go. I still don’t think I’ve seen another software tool suite that does what I’d like to do, but I’m finding a lot of maturity and leverage in the open source world that can be used to enable functions I didn’t think were practical, or possible.
architectedfutures.net will be a platform for me to open source my ideas and concepts about the enterprise architecture tool suite. It will be “a community of practice web-site for people interested in using architectural engineering methods to manage the evolution of future environments.” It will be a platform where I and other members can pursue, develop and invite comment on a series of ideas involving futurism, architecture, sustainability, business planning and engineering, information technologies and related concepts. As part of that discussion it will host a proof-of-concept version of what I now call the Entity Architecture Tool Suite™ (EATS™).
architectedfutures.info (this site)
Once I course corrected and began working toward implementing architectedfutures.net, one of my first major decisions was the choice of a web software platform. Updating a look at various products I had studied since 2005, I choose to start constructing a web site using Drupal. Previously I had looked for an open source content management system that could be used as a framework to host an implementation of my tool suite software. Now I was still looking for that, but I also wanted a system that could provide facilities to support a community of practice without my having to develop those features myself. Drupal met my criteria.
My next step was to begin developing the prototype for my architectedfutures.net on my home computer using Drupal as the core infrastructure and an assortment of its associated plugin modules to support the various features I wanted on the site. A daunting task, but I was very pleased with a lot of what I found, especially the direction the core developers were taking Drupal as it moved from the version 6 platform, which I started with, toward the version 7 platform which is now the stable release product. However, I also found that I was spending a lot of overhead with administrative tasks around Drupal management. More than I would have liked. That caused me to take one more review of the field, and some online reviews caused me to give some serious thought to WordPress, which I had always considered more a blogging platform than a CMS. What I found I liked, especially in terms of the relative ease of administration and in terms of what the integrated BuddyPress plugin provided for community of practice support. So that became a real candidate as my core infrastructure for the architectedfutures.net web development: BuddyPress on a WordPress base.
But wait, there is no free lunch, not really. Especially not when you are trying to create an integrated environment or bend software to do something that isn’t what the developer created it to do, the way the software wants to do it. You’ve still got to get your hands dirty and dig into the code. Which is what I’ve done; and so far, so good. But as I’ve done that and moved along on another prototype development of architectedfutures.net, yet another thought struck me about communities of practice and free open source. I’ve received a lot of help and insights supporting what I’m trying to do, basically gratis. I pay very nominal charges for some software, and I make donations to help support some development efforts. But a lot of what I’ve got has been without a financial cost. Which is one reason I’ve been able to do this.
One form of payback open source developers look for is donations (everybody can use a few extra dollars). Another pay back is good reviews and ratings on their work product. Yet another that contributes across a wider space is “free” help in getting a job done. And that’s where architectedfutures.info comes in. As I explained in my inaugural post for this site, I’m going to use architectedfutures.info as a mechanism to document the behind-the-scene and under-the-covers effort in building architectedfutures.net. Where the discussion and content goes will partly be a function of what discoveries I make and what kind of response I get. Initially my thoughts are in two directions:
- There are a number of subjects that I’ve tried to research about WordPress or BuddyPress where the answers don’t seem generally available on the web. Other people seem to be looking for some of the same help topics, but the best answer tends to be: “Look in the source code. Start with module x. Good luck!” For at least some of those topics, if I’ve done the research and come up with an answer that helps me – I’ll try to share that information.
- Some of the things I’m going to try to do on the architectedfutures.net site are probably novel. (In some cases some people may consider other terms as adjectives.) To the extent they seem like techniques that other people might have a use for, I will try to document what I’m doing and why. I will probably also offer some documentation about plugins that I’m using and how I’m making use of them.
Beyond that, I’m somewhat open. We’ll see where it goes. What I don’t really want to do is move my content concepts for architectedfutures.net into this space. This is more of a meta-site, a site about a site. architectedfutures.info should be about the how and why behind architectedfutures.net. Since my current direction for architectedfutures.net is to build it on either Drupal or WordPress/BuddyPress, architectedfutures.info will largely be about those technologies … and maybe just a little bit of teaser content to get you interested in participating in architectedfutures.net once it gets on the air.
I’m an application systems architect (software engineer) with interests in astronomy, astrology, photography, religion, politics and complex problem solving. I don’t tend to believe in absolutes (everything is relative). I enjoy problems with multiple correct answers, and those with no correct answers. I enjoy metaphors, science fiction, dystopian novels, historical fiction, mystery, philosophical intrigue and walking in Tilden Park with my dog Leo. I spent 35 years at Bank of America as a priest and then high-priest of IT witchcraft. Now I have the good fortune to tackle some of the more complex problems I always wanted to, and in the way I always wanted to. I enjoy living surrounded by Redwood trees with my loving, artist wife Hallie. I like soft red and smooth white wines, Kaluha, medium rare grilled hamburgers and Trader Joe’s raisin bread with peanut butter. I want to die an engaged old man with plenty left to do on my bucket list.
Claim to Fame
I wrote my first computer program for a Litton Monrobot IX while I was a junior in high school, and I was once the proud owner of not one but two Cromemco® S100 microcomputers (before there was an IBM PC). My first personal computer was a Cromemco® Z2-D. (The “D” meant it was a “Z2″ that also include a disk(ette) drive!) Later I added a Cromemco® System-3. The Z2-D was a 64K machine running CDOS (based on Digital Research DOS, a predecessor to MS/DOS) and sporting two single-side, single-density 5.25″ floppy disks. The System-3 was a banked switched 128K machine running Cromix and sporting two 8″ floppies! Go here for a little more on what these machines were all about.