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Blaine Osepchuk
Blaine Osepchuk

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Clean Architecture Why I can't recommend Clean Architecture by Robert C Martin

Clean Architecture failed to meet my expectations on a number of fronts. Despite Mr. Martin's obvious passion for the topic, Clean Architecture is poorly organized, lacks examples, and is silent on working with existing systems. The author missed a major opportunity to teach us when and how to apply these lessons to our own systems. Let me explain.

Clean Architecture is a poorly organized book

This book takes a long time to get going. The chapters on design paradigms (structured, object oriented, and functional) seem particularly out of place and unnecessary.

The chapters on the SOLID principles are good. I enjoyed seeing the principles broken down and explained well. And I found it interesting to think about their applicability to system architecture. But Uncle Bob presents the SOLID principles like hard rules, which rubbed me the wrong way. In fact, I'm pretty sure a system that never violated the SOLID principles would be a giant mess.

However, this paragraph from page 137 is important:

The primary purpose of architecture is to support the life cycle of the system. Good architecture makes the system easy to understand, easy to develop, easy to maintain, and easy to deploy. The ultimate goal is to minimize the lifetime cost of the system and to maximize programmer productivity.

That's a great observation. Why didn't Uncle Bob put it in the first chapter?

Not enough examples

There are hardly any examples in this book. Chapter 33 contains an example that discusses a video sales e-commerce application. It's okay. But I didn't walk away from it with a firm idea of how I'd apply the concepts to my own systems.

The appendix tells the story of how Uncle Bob came up with the SOLID principles and the rules of clean architecture. It's loaded with examples of past projects. I think it's the most interesting section of the book.

The book is silent on improving the architecture of existing systems

Most developers spend most of their time working on existing systems. So, I expected Clean Architecture to be full of advice on improving existing systems. But the book is conspicuously silent on the subject.

How to create a clean architecture?

In the first half of the book you'll learn that you create a clean architecture by following the SOLID principles to break your system into components along your system boundaries (I'm paraphrasing). If you stopped reading there, you could be forgiven for having the impression that Uncle Bob would not approve of whatever you've been doing for architecture. You could also be forgiven for thinking that the few options he presents are the "right" way to do things. Yet towards the end of the book you'll read this on page 228:

This example is intended to show that architectural boundaries exist everywhere. We, as architects, must be careful to recognize when they are needed. We also have to be aware that such boundaries, when fully implemented, are expensive.

At the same time, we have to recognize that when such boundaries are ignored, they are very expensive to add in later—even in the presence of comprehensive test-suites and refactoring discipline.

So what do we do, we architects? The answer is dissatisfying. On the one hand, some very smart people have told us, over the years, that we should not anticipate the need for abstraction. This is the philosophy of YAGNI: "You aren’t going to need it." There is wisdom in this message, since over-engineering is often much worse than under-engineering. On the other hand, when you discover that you truly do need an architectural boundary where none exists, the costs and risks can be very high to add such a boundary.

So there you have it. O Software Architect, you must see the future. You must guess—intelligently. You must weigh the costs and determine where the architectural boundaries lie, and which should be fully implemented, and which should be partially implemented, and which should be ignored.

So more than half way through the book he says that it is up to us to decide where we should put the boundaries in our systems. And that boundaries are potentially everywhere. Confusing, right?

What this book is missing

So, if the ultimate goal of software architecture is to minimize the lifetime cost of the system, shouldn't a book on architecture help an architect make those decisions?

Unanswered questions

This book left me with a lot of unanswered questions. Where is the discussion of the economics of the various options? How do I find the optimum architecture for my system? Where's the research?

unanswered questions

How do I decide if horizontal layering or vertical slicing or something else will minimize the lifetime cost of my system? Or if I have no clearly defined layers, how do I decide which, if any, layering strategy will minimize my lifetime costs?

I have even more questions. Where should you put your effort if you have a limited amount of time to improve the architecture of an existing system? Is separating the database from the business logic is always a good idea? Which advice should you always follow? Which advice depends on the system?

Details that would have made Clean Architecture more valuable

In Code Complete, Steve McConnell talks about the tradeoffs between different non-functional requirements like reliability, dependability, correctness, maintainability, readability, etc. He explains how some requirements move together and others conflict. I would have loved to see something like that for the architecture decisions discussed in this book.

In Clean Architecture, project size, team size, the consequences of project failure, expected code lifetime, and other important factors are under-emphasized as drivers of architecture. For example, needs more architecture than the personal to-do list you are developing, even though they are both web apps backed by databases.

What this book is really about

I spent the majority of this book slightly confused. I kind of understood what Uncle Bob was trying to say. But didn't completely get it until I read the appendix. So, let me save you some time.

An example

Imagine you are building a desktop computer for the consumer market (office computers for example). You get to choose the hardware and you are going to write the software for the whole thing (firmware, OS, drivers, applications, everything).

Would you write a monolith?

How would you go about it? Would you write a giant program (a monolith) where the code for the spreadsheet knew about the kind of disk you selected for your computer? Can you imagine updating the spreadsheet code and adding 'if' statements everywhere so that it does one thing if you have a SATA drive and another if you have a SCSI drive? And then doing the same thing for VGA vs DVI vs HDMI video? What about different paths for PS/2 vs USB mouse input? And then repeat the process for the word processor and all the other applications you intend to bundle with your computer?

That would be a nightmare to maintain, right? So what's the solution? Architecture! Your spreadsheet shouldn't know what kind of mouse you're using. Nor what kind of display you have. It should be completely oblivious to those details.

Boundaries in your computer

And that's what you'll find if you look at your computer. There's embedded software in your mouse that communicates with your operating system. Yet the details are hidden from your applications. Your spreadsheet accepts standardized input without knowing or caring what kind of mouse you are using. Then when someone invents a new input device like the touchpad it works with your spreadsheet automatically.

That's just one of the boundaries in your computer. You'll likely come up with hundreds of them. You might assign different teams to work on different parts of the system. You might create or adopt different specs for the various ways the different components interact.

You're probably saying 'duh' at this point. It's obvious that you wouldn't want to change and recompile your spreadsheet every time your hardware changes. Maintenance would be a nightmare. And I agree.

Boundaries are your friend (if you use them correctly)

It's easy to see hardware boundaries. But the same logic that makes hardware boundaries worthwhile also applies to software boundaries. Software boundaries are just harder to see.

So, you might start with the ability to display the spreadsheet on the screen. But you might also want to save it to disk, save it to PDF, save it as a CSV, or print it. So, maybe one of the boundaries in your spreadsheet program is to have an internal data structure that represents each spreadsheet. And then you pass that structure to different code to display, save, or print it in the desired format.

If you keep the data structure completely unaware of how it is displayed, saved, or printed, then you can add a "save to XML" feature down the road without digging through all the code related to the spreadsheet data structure. And if that spreadsheet data structure is several million lines of code, you can imagine how much easier that would be.

That's all Uncle Bob is trying to tell us in this book. You can use the SOLID principles to create boundaries in your systems that hide your implementation details, reduce complexity, and help you reduce the total lifecycle cost of your systems.

A better software architecture book

In many ways, Patterns of Enterprise Application Architecture by Martin Fowler is far superior to Clean Architecture. Fowler describes the patterns he's observed repeatedly in enterprise applications. He gives a simple example if each pattern, describes how it works, and where to use it. I found Patterns of Enterprise Application Architecture to be very readable and applicable to my systems.


There is valuable information in Clean Architecture but you have to work to find it.

I found the chapter on embedded software one of the easiest to understand. It intuitively makes sense to avoid scattering low-level calls throughout your code base. And it also makes sense to make your logic testable in the absence of the hardware (especially since embedded software is often developed before the hardware is available). If you could only read two chapters of this book, I'd recommend you make it this one and the appendix, regardless of what kind of software you write for a living.

Overall, Clean Architecture is a tough read and Uncle Bob left me with more questions than answers. I definitely wouldn't recommend this as your first book on software architecture (check out Patterns of Enterprise Application Architecture by Martin Fowler instead).

Agree or disagree. I'd love to hear your thoughts.

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Top comments (92)

delmania profile image
Robert Whitcomb

Are you that ignorant? There is still code being developed and maintained in COBOL, ForTran, and mainframes. Young developers wil always assume newer languages will take over only to find out non SV startups don’t act like that

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ben profile image
Ben Halpern

Hey Robert, while I agree with the point you were trying to make, you need to use a more constructive tone in this community. Since this is you're first comment, it's all good. Just make sure to give the folks on the other end of the internet some benefit of the doubt in the future.

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codevault profile image
Sergiu Mureşan

Only such architectures, patterns and practices will sufficiently meet the rise of AI-driven programming. Imperative, class-based-OO, brittle languages like Java and even Python (which still does not have multi-line anonymous functions for God sake) will feel their age as dynamic, fluid languages like modern JavaScript, Go, Crystal, Julia, R and others take over.

This sounds like a great beginning for a movie about the rise of AI programming. :D

rafalpienkowski profile image
Rafal Pienkowski

Thanks for your recension of the book.

I've bought Clean Architecture, and it is on my short list of books to read. I'm curious if I'd share your opinion after the lecture.

You wrote:

"Uncle Bob presents the SOLID principles like hard rules"

That's all Uncle Bob. You like or hate him. He is sometimes very controversial. I have some distance to his opinion, but I want to hear what he has to say.

essiccf37 profile image

I personally don't find him controversial. I remember his deal about "Monads" which were just plain wrong.

To be honest with you since his book Clean Code - which I must say is to me a book that every software developer should read - I do not really see what he brings on the table for today's real world problem or to challenge the state of art of software engineering. Therefore I do not find him controversial at all, he likes himself a lot and is convinced that he's right.

Kent Beck, Martin Fowler, Alistair Cockburn, Eric Evans and many others have a far more impact, I think than Uncle Bob and are much more humble which to me, is a quality which goes with intellectual honesty.

eljayadobe profile image

I just read Robert Martin's "WTF is a Monad?" presentation (slide deck, in PDF format), from about 10 years ago.

Hoo-boy, swing and a miss. Complete misunderstanding of monads.

Clean Code is a fabulous book. (Two thumbs up!)

I've not read The Clean Coder nor Clean Architecture.

Given Blaine's review, probably won't be putting Clean Architecture on my short list. Which is okay, I've already got too many books in my book queue as it is. I try to use my time to read high quality book with good signal-to-noise ratios.

However, I did not get off scott free... now I've added out Patterns of Enterprise Application Architecture by Martin Fowler to my short list.

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essiccf37 profile image

The Martin Fowler's book is a treasure ! I agree.

This "WTF is a Monad?" was quite messy I agree !

t4rzsan profile image
Jakob Christensen

I remember his deal about "Monads" which were just plain wrong

What is the story on this "deal"? I have not heard about it.

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essiccf37 profile image

Well a while ago he posted on Twitter a statement about what a Monad is. Which gave an epic thread and some discussion on diverse communities.

Here's the Twitter thread, some discussion on Reddit

He also made a talk about Monads (also wrong) which you can find the link on this Meetup page

There other "controversies" like his stand on the guy who got fired of Google or his "tests solves everything software related" philosophy, I took the one about Monad because its less opinionated since a formal definition of a Monad exists and it's not what he said.

ben profile image
Ben Halpern

Yeah, there's a real cult of personality issues. Certain "rules" also are highly context-dependent. Like "sure, that makes a lot of sense for Java developers..."

I like the reading material, I don't really like that it's treated like gospel.

sunnystatue profile image

I m pretty happy he didn't provide any concrete example because everyone despite of tech stack can grab the idea and implement it.

bosepchuk profile image
Blaine Osepchuk

Absolutely. Post back here when you finish reading the book and share your thoughts.

rafalpienkowski profile image
Rafal Pienkowski

I finished the book, so finally, I can write a comment after my reading. My first thought was to defend the book at any cost. I've been even thinking about a blog post about it. Finally, I'll only leave this comment. Blaine keeps in mind that I've nothing against your opinion. I respect others beliefs and feelings. Please, don't take this personally.

So let's start.

"Clean Architecture is a poorly organized book."

I can't agree. The book as a whole is well organized. Of course, there are chapters which in my opinion are unnecessary like mentioned by you chapter about design paradigms_. I share your view that sections about SOLID principles are excellent. But I think that Uncle Bob spends too much time describing those principles at this book. In my opinion, they should be mentioned, and there should be a piece of information that knowledge and a well understanding of them are required to read further.

"Not enough examples."

Holy true. I've nothing to add. I think the same.

"The book is silent on improving the architecture of existing systems."

True again. There is only one chapter which describes the example location of components across multiple libraries, but it concerns newly created projects.

"What this book is missing"

  • Unanswered questions.

Yeap, a lot of unanswered questions. I had a feeling that I'm Neo and Uncle Bob is Morpheus from Matrix, and he gives me a choice between red and blue pill without telling details.

Morpheus's pills

  • Details that would have made Clean Architecture more valuable

Here I disagree. The message from "Clean Architecture" by Robert C. Martin in that boundaries are the most important thing. We can organize our architecture in several ways depending on a project's needs. Furthermore, our architecture will evolve, and there will be a day we will need to reorganize our components. So we need to keep in mind to set up right, firm boundaries in our system. BTW you mentioned about boundaries in the section "What this book is really about."
I also think that database or www server is only a detail in our architecture. Thinking in that manner helped me multiple times.


I think that appendix which is a part of Uncle Bob's professional resume doesn't add anything. Yes, it's a beautiful story and a beautiful piece of history, but it's loosely coupled with the primary aim which is Clean Architecture.

To sum up, I also feel that "Clean Architecture" isn't dedicated for beginners and every reader should at least have experience and understanding of SOLID principles. At all this is not a bad book. I think that Robert C. Matin fans won't be disappointed. If you've read other Marin's book and you like his style of writing, I believe you will be satisfied. If you are an experienced software architect, it's possible that you will be bored during the reading. But again, that is only my subjective opinion. Please don't treat me like an oracle because I'm not.


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bosepchuk profile image
Blaine Osepchuk

Nice summary, Rafal.

I'm not an oracle either and I can see how you arrived at your opinions. I'm not offended; it's nice to show people see opposing points of view and let them decide for themselves.

foxjstephen profile image
Stephen Fox • Edited

It's interesting you were slightly confused throughout the book.

You had issue with the fact that the book doesn't seem to get to the point or practically give you enough examples on how to fix your current architecture. (I've paraphrased, of course. If I did so unjustly, please correct me).

May I address these two points?

1. The book builds up many ideas laterally before building on top of them.

  • One example is the programming paradigms, which you mentioned.
    • This is appropriate because it tells of how our language/paradigm choices impact our architectures.
    • Those four chapters are also in the progression that we as an industry have taken.
    • Furthermore, they tell of the evolution of ideas and each paradigm simultaneously (a) builds on the previous' strengths and (b) introduce new cost, or analyses, which must be weighed and mitigated.

Admittedly, some people don't learn well this way.

  • They prefer to grab code examples and tweak things
  • They learn by banging their heads against the problem, rather than listening to stories, anecdotes, etc.

I'm not one of these people, but maybe you are. Or maybe my bullets don't capture the nuances of your learning style, and you have some genuinely hard problems that you believe this book's rules and principles don't help you solve.

For that I apologize, on behalf of myself and Uncle Bob.

I've seen every video on YouTube that has Uncle Bob in it. I've also read a lot of his blog posts.

  • Maybe this makes me seem like I'm in the cult of personality, but I disagree plenty with him.
  • Maybe this gives me "a leg up" in appreciating this book, because I have many of his recorded thoughts to use to filter, augment, or fill-in any argument that feels a bit hollow.

And may I just assert why he holds something like SOLID as hard rules?

  1. He compiled them (over years, talking with colleges)
  2. I've seen codebases that treated all of the principles as law. And they are excellent architecturally
    • They look different, though. They are a little weird to look at initially, because (for a Java codebase) so many interfaces are short, and so many class and method names are more than two words
    • Yet, they all have less than 4 parameters.
    • Adding new features is a breeze
    • You can read the code as near-coherent English language.

That could be too anecdotal. But I haven't seen the evidence that the effort is not worth it.

2. Practical examples were few and far between.

I think you bought the wrong book. This is a book on principles.

  • Time and again, Uncle Bob tells us that we, ourselves, must make the determination as to what is more important throughout the life of the system.
    • Part IV, "Component Principles", is laden with statements like:

A good architect finds a position in that [component cohesion] tension triangle that meets the current concerns of the development team, but is aware that those concerns will change over time.


Indeed, there is probably no correct order [to this dependency cycle]. This can lead to problems in [certain langauges].

He then goes on to explain how to employ a principle in a that particular problem scenario. And I would say that is the value in this book.

  • Rather than a bunch of code example from which you have to extract the code examples, time after time he presents the problem and a principle or two that addresses that problem directly.
  • He also putting more faith in the competency of you, the developer, to make similar analyses to what he makes throughout the book and to take appropriate action in your projects
    • He taught us how to code this stuff already: Clean Code
    • This was a higher-level, but I think, more profound book that coveys principles.

From the foreword, Kevlin encapsulates this idea:

To walk this path [to good architecture] requires care and attention, thought and observation, practice and principle....

The only way to go fast, is to go well. -Uncle Bob

Enjoy the journey

devingoble profile image
Devin Goble

Your comment resonates with me because you specifically discuss principles. The world we live in is highly polarized. Software development is not immune to this issue. As we gain experience as professionals, we will naturally accumulate opinions on how things should be done. This is OK. Our strong opinions relieve us of indecision. They give us a jumping off point. They help us navigate difficult problems quickly, and with confidence.

The danger is in what can happen if our opinions become absolute rules. If that occurs, our problem solving will be formulaic. Rules only apply in specific situations. Therefore our designs become less flexible, and we will have trouble with new classes of problems.

Principles can help. We should analyze our own opinions, as well as the opinions of others, and try to discern what the underlying principles are. Take the D in SOLID. DRY is a principle and is always a valid approach. However, the degree to which we apply DRY is not an absolute. This is born out with countless StackOverflow questions where people are tying themselves, and their code, in knots to try to inappropriately reuse a particular class across multiple domains because somehow they got the idea that DRY is a rule.

Learning to think, and design, in this way is a skill that comes through practice. When we first start off, there's nothing wrong with following a few absolutes. However as the scope of our responsibility grows, so must our ability to throw out those absolutes. Think of it like teaching a child that the stove is hot. When they are very young, we might tell them only that they must never touch the stove, a heater, the hot metal of a car, or a light bulb. As they get older, though, we expand on that and explain in simple terms why they must not touch these things. As they get continue to grow, we might explain in more detail the dangers of high heat. Now, we are no longer telling them specific things to avoid, but giving them a principle to help them avoid any kind of burn.

Is Clean Architecture full of Uncle Bob's opinions? Yes, and that's just fine by me. He has a lot of experience, and he's chosen to share some of it with us in the hopes that we might have an easier time. His opinion is no less valid than anybody else. We all have different experiences, and therefore different opinions. If we can learn to extract the principles and use them to augment our own experience, then we'll be better off as individuals and as an industry.

bosepchuk profile image
Blaine Osepchuk

No book is going to work equally well for everyone. I found this book quite unhelpful and, based on the comments here, I'm not the only one. But based on your summary and several Amazon reviews, many people find the book valuable. So the reviews are split.

Clean Code is one of my favorite programming books, as it is for many programmers. And I just wanted to share my review of Clean Architecture with my colleagues on so that they might think twice before investing a significant amount of time reading this book.

Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts.

bosepchuk profile image
Blaine Osepchuk

I've seen codebases that treated all of the principles as law. And they are excellent architecturally

Please share with the group if you can. I'd love to see what that looks like when it's done well.

albanx0 profile image
Alban X • Edited

I am sorry to say but this is a very poor article, strongly your opinion based. Probably you misunderstood it or you lack the necessary experience to understand its benefits.

Clean code Architecture is one of the best book I have read about good code. I have worked in 5 different companies in my carrier, and in all of them I have seen all the situation described by the Robert Martin in his book.

In the same time I have encounter a lot of developers who thinks they know everything, even with 2-4 years experience only, but not able to produce a single application that is testable maintainable and scalable on the long run.

I use to say today we have code writers, not software developers.

Software development should be a discipline with good rules that comes from experience and science based, same as a building architect, he uses math and specific rules to design a building.
Those rules does not change from language to language or from time to time.

Consider that:

  • Consider that Robert Martin has more than 40 years of experience in the area, double more than you and me together
  • Software developers today lack of Humility, Honesty and Courage
  • His book is concise, short and well explained, on the other hand I find his videos long with many examples
  • To avoid opinion based comparison take in consideration numbers, data (uncle bob does this).
bosepchuk profile image
Blaine Osepchuk

I saw no data (aside from his personal experience) or research that supports the positions Uncle Bob expressed in this book. There's no science here. It's all his opinion.

Steve McConnell, on the other hand, cites hundreds of studies in his books.

And I've been at this for 19 years so it's doubtful that he has more than twice as much experience as both of us put together (although I know of no research that says that people who have more experience write better books than people with less experience so I doubt it’s relevant).

Anyway, thanks for reading my post and taking the time to add your thoughts to the discussion.

albanx0 profile image
Alban X

I wouldn't say it is opinion based, Uncle Bob mentions a lot of other authors in his book.

Design patterns, Solid principles, TDD, code form (class length, function names ect...) by definition ... are not really opinions. They are solid computer software theories and models consolidates over years of computer theories, Uncle Bob just emphasizes them in his way.

I have applied Uncle Bob teaching both at work and on personal project... the benefits have been huge, bug density lower, able to fix problems and scale projects with new feature much faster.

I always advice software developers to leave behind personal biases, be open mind, try, compare with data bases and value experience.

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bosepchuk profile image
Blaine Osepchuk • Edited

That's pretty much the definition of opinion. The opinion may be shared widely and have great support among "experts" but that doesn't make it science or fact.

I follow much of Martin's clean code advice. I believe it is effective for my projects. But, again, that's not proof in the same way an engineer can prove that the bridge she is building will not fall down.

For example, in "Code Complete" Steve McConnell reviews the research regarding function length. And the research doesn't support the idea that very short functions are beneficial (as Martin asserts). Now you might take issue with the methods or techniques employed in the research but you at least have something to look at and evaluate. Whereas Martin just says that methods must be short (with no offer of proof).

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albanx0 profile image
Alban X

Theory of relativity is not opinion based, same as gravity, same as computer theory...
Uncle Bob support the Single Responsibility Principle, a function should do one thing and do well, and a long function does a lot of things.

Again you're wrong here, Uncle Bob does just says method must be short, he brings up different examples with charts, comparing bug density of different project (at least in the videos, do not remember in the book).

Have a look here at lest

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bosepchuk profile image
Blaine Osepchuk

You serious with this stuff?

You think the ideal length of the function is on the same footing as the acceleration due to gravity being 9.81 meters per second squared?

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albanx0 profile image
Alban X

If you did not get that, then is useless we discuss about it.

I am serious on the stuff, the computer theory is an exact science, software patterns and models, are not opinion based, and are proven with years of experience and studies.

I can relate you to thousand of article that says the same thing, function length was just an example but I am not going to do that research for you now.

What I am trying to say is that experience and studies have consolidate these things, has nothing to do with opinion based as you say, even you disagree, the best thing to do is to commit to them.

The hardest thing I had to deal in coaching my work teammates, was convincing them that coding using clean code principles was the right thing. Some they were young, unexperienced, other thinking they could write the best code (which only they understand) and the resistance to change, are some of the factors you had to deal with, which I think is your case in your article.

And I do not bias you for this, I work everyday with strong opinion based colleagues who thinks "yeah that 1000 line spaghetti code is easy just change that and that"... and loose 7 days on fixing a simple bug, and other 10 trying to extend that code.

I take Uncle Bob for grant, because he has a great experience, he describe exactly what is happening and what will happen in your job, he is not the only one saying those things, and he is basing his writings on theory, studies and solid fundamentals, not on opinion.
And lately especially because I have experienced, tried the benefits of writing clean code.

Again my advice is, be open minded, try, compare, check the benefits, use data and numbers not feelings and opinions.

This web site is a great source of examples if you need one:

thorstenhirsch profile image
Thorsten Hirsch • Edited

In my opinion Clean Architecture is a typical Uncle Bob book. And if you know other books from Uncle Bob, you will find nothing new in this one. I found this aspect a bit disappointing, too.

The last refreshing new book about architecture that I've read was this one: Langlebige Software-Architekturen (long lasting software architectures). It has a completely different approach, it's much more practical and comes with scientific analyses of existing code bases. Unfortunately it's only available in German AFAIK.

bosepchuk profile image
Blaine Osepchuk

Interesting. It's too bad I can't read German.

bgadrian profile image
Adrian B.G.

I would not recommend anything named "Enterprise" in 2018. And the book you recommend is nothing but good for first time readers, it gets into too many details, in too many patterns that are obsolete, you will end up learning too many things and remembering none.

Clean Architecture lacks a lot of stuff, but as a starter in Architecture is good overall. I read it in a few hours, it's "light". In a case, by not being so great and long, it is a great start for a developer to delve in the Architecture world, by using the same concepts he uses to code (SOLID).

My point is, even if it is a poor written book, from the Clean Architecture the reader will probably retain only 2-3 things, the "onion" schema probably is the most important, which is fine. They are powerful simple concepts that will not die of old age (like the patterns are).

Unfortunately most of these similar books are stuck in the past, with Java/.Net monoliths, which in my non-enterprise world they are obsolete. I'm still waiting for the "new age" books that takes advantage of the new advancements in the computing area.

bosepchuk profile image
Blaine Osepchuk

Are you poo-pooing the Fowler book because it has the word "enterprise" in the title?

Either way, I'd take the Fowler book over Martin's book every time. Yeah, it's from 2002 and some of the info might be dated but it's still a solid reference. There are only so many sane ways you can compose enterprise software and Fowler has done a pretty great job of cataloging them.

d4e666 profile image

Have any of you ever looked at the source code from his project Fitnesse? in his book he mentions it over and over. I have looked at it and what I see is a mess. He mentions "screaming architecture", but his code does not even come close. I found all components he menions, but none of the bear the names he mentions either.
Use cases are Instructions, RequestBuilder factories are just string formatters to create urls, .... He also makes the mistake that many other developers do: let the controllers take care of calling the presenters.

In many languages like .NET, you don't have full control over the return format, so not only does he force another level of abstraction, he doesn't even follow his own rules.

In a perfect world of theory, all his recomendations sound solid, but in the real life I find them very poorly applicable.

bosepchuk profile image
Blaine Osepchuk • Edited

I haven't looked at the source code for Fitnesse. But I wouldn't be surprised to learn that practice and theory have diverged.

And, just to be clear, I don't think that says anything bad about Uncle Bob. Software development activities in real-world systems need to make economic sense. Often that means leaving "good enough" alone even if that means the system doesn't meet all your architectural goals.

If Uncle Bob and his son are the only two programmers on the Fitnesse project, the architecture might be perfectly adequate as it is. But if they were going to bring in ten additional programmers it might be completely inappropriate. Context matters.

You wrote:

In a perfect world of theory, all his recomendations sound solid, but in the real life I find them very poorly applicable.

That's probably true for the smallish (100 KLOC class) systems I've worked on. But the bigger the systems get and the longer they are going to live, the more important architecture becomes. For example, I wonder what the architecture of the F-35 software looks like (reportedly around 8 million lines of mostly C++). I'm guessing/hoping it has a lot more architecture than my 100 KLOC projects.

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Bret Williams

I've bought some Fowler books but every time I read one I'm reminded of the needless abstractions that clouded pertinent information when I was reading the Gang of Four book. I'm struggling through "Clean Code" by Robert Martin right now and I'm feeling the same way as the author of this article does about "Clean Architecture". Seems a lot of filler that is basically nitpicking. I'm not sure how many people are interested in a graph depicting average Java function lengths and how it is relatable to day-to-day programming concerns.

One point I really enjoyed in this critique by Mr. Osepchuk is the lack of time spent on dealing with existing code ("legacy code" as people are fond of saying). You are darn lucky to work on a brand new codebase - you are working on existing codebases for about 90% of your career. Nope, you're not going to be re-writing that $500 million dollar website on Node/React when the PHP implementation is humming along just fine.

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Jason C. McDonald

Thanks for the heads up, @bosepchuk . Uncle Bob has some useful things to say, but I tend to approach his material with some caution already.

By the way, I also want to thank you for indirectly inspiring my most recent article, which I just published on here. ;)

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Blaine Osepchuk

I'm honored. BTW: I read and enjoyed your article--very insightful.

ianfairman profile image
Ian Fairman

I found Clean Architecture pretty underwhelming. It's good on the SOLID principles etc. but his view of the generic architecture feels too restrictive and a little wrong-headed. You'd be better of reading something like:

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Blaine Osepchuk

Thanks for the link, Ian. It's a clear and succinct introduction to hexagonal architectures.

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Fabian Holzer

The essence of Clean Architecture would have fit nicely into a single, albeit maybe somewhat lengthy, blog post.

The filling material which makes up about 70-80% of the book, is also not per se of bad quality. It mostly reiterates rather basic concepts, but I'd qualify it, depending on the how experienced a reader is, as too shallow for an in-depth treatment or too bloated for a high-level overview. And the unavoidable morale tales from Bob Martins projects are also entertaining, but I personally don't seek entertainment in software engineering books.

I think, it can be worth skimming, but I don't consider it an essential read.

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Blaine Osepchuk

Nice summary, Fabian.

I had the same idea about the book fitting into a long blog post but it didn't make it into the final version of my post.

boutchitos profile image

I really like that book, and the concepts presented there. Here some comments to make you more happier about this book. I don't have access to the book right-now, I will not be able to give precise references. I will have to buy this book again. I could buy yours ;)

The Goal of architecture is addressed right at the start in the introduction. He won't go into details but it's clear. The goal of architecture is to optimize people work, not the system. Given a flat listing of all the code for a system, without boundaries or already decoupled classes into components, you and me, with different set of constraints won't derived the same architecture. Both being "optimized" for our own purposes. So there is no path to follow.

Also, adding to that, software is a living beast. You may have optimized your architecture for today, but some other day, you have to admit, things have changed. The environment, the teams, the tools, the software...

You focus a lot on the SOLID principles, but those are at the design level. They are the foundation to understand the package principles. You have to focus more on those 3 package principles and the tension space they form (it's all about compromise).

The book is about teaching principles. The recipe is following them.

Comparing Clean Architecture with Code Complete isn't fair, or is comparing apples and oranges. Code Complete is at the code level/line level. At most considering a couple of lines together, to form a class definition or a function. The scale and complexity of such elements are small and simple (but I won't explain them to my Mom ;) ). Opposite to that, in the continuum describe in the book, is architecture. You draw rectangles and arrows, but the complexity implied is so huge.

Chapter 2 is my best : A Tale of Two Values. If you have to convince a non-techy-manager-feature-oriented-I-know-nothing-about-software-development to let you structure your code, that is doing architecture, that chapter could gives you bullets. Otherwise, you will craft a Monolith. Because, you won't get up a morning with the idea "Lets build a Monolith today". Those managers make you build one (and yes, we let them do). And it's also typical for a start-up, where you have to focus on features.

I will certainly give a try to "Patterns of Enterprise Application Architecture", by Martin Fowler. I really like his work. And I totally agree (finally) that "The chapters on design paradigms (structured, object oriented, and functional) seem particularly out of place and unnecessary." I also appreciated the appendix recapping Bob's career and the polymorphisme applied to hardware.

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Martín Emanuel • Edited

Thanks for sharing your thoughts. A few weeks ago I started reading Clean Architecture and even though I found the first few chapters really interesting I was worried that I would end up learning nothing about how to actually build large complex software. I'm not actually interested in reading another book on SOLID.

I'll take your advice and start reading Patterns of Enterprise Application Architecture.

fernandopioli profile image

Hey Blane.
I totally agree with you.
I read the book and didn’t get the Martin’s point.
My intention was learn about clean architecture, but the book presents other points.
Here in Brazil, the people loves Martin and his book, but I think this book could be better.

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Bogdan Rudyi

Surely software development is far-far from being science. Till this day it is more an art, unfortunately. Value/advantage of most concepts (TDD, Clean Architecture, SOLID, OOP etc) is not substantiated by any scientific research. For a scientist, the never-ending discussions about these concepts should stop after a single scientific paper, stating that "such a such groups of developers were given a task ... under such and such criteria, and it was found that those who followed concept X produced 20% more value for the same time and 67% of them said that they also felt more satisfaction as compared to those who didn't follow it." But there are practically no such papers. (I remember only one scientific paper on comparison Scala-vs-Java development speed, but it remains unknown for 99% of Scala and Java devs.)

boutchitos profile image

If your are interested by DevOps good practices back by science, read this excellent Accelerate book

You won't find SOLID, or OOP in there, but automated tests (and TDD), and Architecture.

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Blaine Osepchuk

I agree. We could benefit from more scientific research about what works and what doesn't in software development. Thanks for your comment.