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Bytesize architecture sessions - Why start with C4 Diagrams

26 Dec 2022

In my previous post about Bytesize Architecture sessions I described briefly that one of the key aspects of the session is to have time “Alone together” where each of the participants of the session will have a few minutes where they are in the same room working on the same task, but not collaborating. What I did not mention was what to do. This post fixes that.

When I started running sessions I noticed that if you ask people to draw the system without any constraints each person draws at different levels of abstraction, some will add a lot of low level details, some will do a bit of high level and a bit of low level… most won’t be able to finish which is not ideal.

I suggest drawing what is known as a Context Diagram of the system as is right now. A Context diagram is the top level of the C4 model. C4 is a modeling technique for describing your system at different abstraction levels.

If you are wondering why drawing the system as it is right now, these are a few reasons

If your team is not familiar with C4, teach them about it before a Bytesized Session. I find that most teams get there fairly fast with very little coaching.

Example of a Context Diagram. Source:

Example of a Context Diagram. Source:

If your system is too big and you think it won’t be possible to draw the whole Context diagram in one session, then break it up. Once you have a Context Diagram, it is a good idea to continue with the other parts of C4, at least do Container and Components.

Categories:   collaboration   software architecture   Bytesize Architecture sessions

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