High level makes you fall deep

There are two ways to omit details in a model, to introduce abstraction:

  1. Omitting details you know exist but don’t need now (abstraction on purpose)
  2. Omitting details you don’t know that exist (abstraction by accident)

As you can see from the phrasing used, the second type is a dangerous kind of abstraction. If you don’t know the details you left out, you don’t know if you got the abstraction right or not.

You’ll often be in a situation where you just don’t know enough (yet) about the system to be ensure you got the abstraction right or not. In such cases, you are carrying an unknown variable with you in your design process.

That variable should eventually become (sufficiently) known. Once it does, you can revisit earlier made abstractions and verify if they were justified or not and make adjustments where applicable and required.

In any case. abstracting details away when you are not sufficiently aware of what you are abstracting away is a dangerous road to take. It’s the architectural equivalent of proving that 1 = 0 using some sneaky (but wrong) trick.

I often say that “high level makes you fall deep” meaning that if you make high level diagrams (omitting a lot of details) without being aware of the abstractions you are exposing yourself to considerable risk later on in the design and realisation phase.


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