Two Controlled Experiments on Model-based Architectural Decision Making
Context: In recent years, architectural design decisions are becoming more and more common for documenting software architectures. Rather than describing the structure of software systems, architectural decisions capture the design rationale and -- often reusable -- architectural knowledge. Many approaches and tools have been proposed in the literature to support architectural decision making and documentation (for instance, based on models, ontologies, or templates). In this context, the capturing, organization, and effective reuse of architectural knowledge has gained a lot of attention. Objective: However, there is little empirical evidence about the supportive effect of reusable architectural knowledge on the effectiveness and efficiency of architectural decision making. Method: To investigate these aspects, we conducted two separate controlled experiments with software architecture students in which we tested the supportive effect of reusable decision models in decision making and documentation. Results: Our results show that the use of reusable decision models can significantly increase both the efficiency and the effectiveness of novice architects. Conclusion: We can report, that our findings are in line with similar studies and support the claims regarding reusable architectural design decisions in principle.