Big Ball of Mud: The Rundown

Big Ball of Mud: The Rundown

A Big Ball of Mud happens when a system has no architecture. The solution is planning, or in bad cases, a firehose. Big balls of mud are extremely common in our industry.

Big Ball of Mud is a software design anti-pattern in which a software system lacks a perceivable structure. This means that, to an outside observer, the system has no discernable architecture, and as such, looks thrown-together, haphazard, and is a massive pain to maintain.

And you probably won't be as happy about it as she is.

Big balls of mud are extremely common in our industry. So what do we do about them?

We architect. Otherwise, we're gonna need a firehose.

The Rundown

  • Name: Big Ball of Mud
  • Summary: Code in a system which lacks a perceivable architecture.
  • TypeSoftware Design
  • Common?: ...Are you sure that's mud?

Give Me an Example!

Straight from the horse's mouth, as it were:

"A Big Ball of Mud is a haphazardly structured, sprawling, sloppy, duct-tape-and-baling-wire, spaghetti-code jungle. These systems show unmistakable signs of unregulated growth, and repeated, expedient repair. Information is shared promiscuously among distant elements of the system, often to the point where nearly all the important information becomes global or duplicated. The overall structure of the system may never have been well defined. If it was, it may have eroded beyond recognition. Programmers with a shred of architectural sensibility shun these quagmires. Only those who are unconcerned about architecture, and, perhaps, are comfortable with the inertia of the day-to-day chore of patching the holes in these failing dikes, are content to work on such systems."

-Brian Foote and Joseph Yoder, 1997

design anti-patterns big data

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