the Essence kernel as common
ground, you can use the Essence language to describe any practices, including engineering practices, in a
way that allows them to be composed
seamlessly together to form methods.
Figure 4 illustrates a three-layer method architecture with the kernel as the
foundation, generic practices in the
middle, and domain-specific practices at the top.
Starting from the bottom of the
stack, the three layers are:
The Essence kernel. This provides the
common ground for all practices and
methods and the underlying foundation for the definition and composition
of the practices.
Generic practices. These are practices that are applicable across many
software engineering domains. Examples of generic practices include
Scrum, use cases, user stories, test-driven development, and acceptance-test-driven development. Many engineering practices will be generic,
but many of the most valuable will be
Domain-specific practices. These
practices are explicitly targeted to a
specific domain such as business intelligence, data warehousing, or telecommunications. Domain-specific
practices are equally as important as
generic practices, if not more so. For
example, many domain-specific practices are needed to develop solutions
for the Internet of Things; these practices cater to things such as asset integration architecture and different
technology profiles. Just as generic
practices extend the kernel to provide
specific guidance, domain-specific
practices are often extensions/spe-cializations of the generic practices.
For example, an asset integration architecture practice could be presented as an extension to a generic agile
The separation of generic practices
from domain-specific practices helps
teams find the practices that they need
and helps organizations establish common ways of organizing and tracking
their work. It is not uncommon for an
organization to standardize on a small
set of generic practices as the foundation for all of its teams’ methods.
Liberating practices in this way is
Sharing practice: Methods and prac-
very powerful. Once practices are codi-
fied in Essence, teams can take owner-
ship of their ways of working and start
to assemble their own methods. This
can start with even a simple library of
practices, as shown in Figure 5.
This capturing and sharing of en-
gineering practices, both generic and
domain-specific, in a way that lets
them be applied alongside popular
management practices (agile or other-
wise), provides the codified knowledge
needed to support a true software en-
gineering discipline. It is also the key
to moving away from monolithic man-
agement methods and isolated engi-
tice libraries. It’s easy to say that teams
Figure 4. The Essence method architecture.
extensions to the generic
practices and additional
standard practices to support
effective team working and
sound engineering principles
the basic concepts applicable
to all captured as a kernel The Essence
Figure 5. Three teams sharing a simple practice library.
Architecture Iterative Test-Driven
Shared Practice Library