Software Engineering Institute | Carnegie Mellon University

SEI Insights


SEI Architecture Technology User Network (SATURN) News and Updates

As the technical co-chairs for SATURN 2017, we're looking forward to welcoming you to the conference in a few weeks' time, and we're excited about the practical, forward-looking program that the hard-working program committee has assembled for the conference. We had many good sessions proposed and unfortunately had room for only a fraction of the submissions in the final program. However, we're sure you're going to find the sessions on the program relevant, engaging, and full of information to take back to work after the conference.

First, we have three terrific keynote talks to look forward to. Kevlin Henney will be speaking about the importance of detail in software development as he talks about Software is Details. Chris Richardson will talk about microservices as an architectural style as he tells us that There is No Such Thing as a Microservice!, while Jeromy Carriere will be exploring speed in software development in his talk, Velocity in Software Development: Why do Companies Slow Down and What Can We Do About It? Additionally, we're thrilled to have a talk from Ruth Malan, the recipient of this year's Linda Northrop Software Architecture Award.

We also have an excellent group of invited speakers. Kurt Stam will be talking about continuous deployment of microservices to be run on Docker and Kubernetes. Joe Yoder will talk about delivering fast with confidence while keeping your architecture clean. DDD expert Paul Rayner will tell us about EventStorming and how it can be used to map out an event-based story of how a software system behaves.

Beyond the keynotes and invited speakers, we have more than 50 peer-reviewed talks, plus training courses and the ever-popular Software Architecture Boot Camp sessions presented by SEI staff members.

These conference sessions explore a wide range of topics relevant to practicing architects, including DevOps, microservices, containers, serverless architectures, legacy systems, agility and architecture, cloud computing, continuous delivery, refactoring, technical debt, architecture evaluation, and technical leadership. All of the sessions have been carefully evaluated by our program committee and will provide practical, timely information to take back to work and apply immediately on your projects and across your organization.

We're very excited about the quality of the SATURN 2017 program, and we'd like to thank our program committee for their careful evaluation of the submissions and also to thank those who submitted session proposals, whether they were accepted for the final program or not.

We're looking forward to being part of this terrific event and of course gathering with our peer group of leading architecture practitioners in Colorado in May. We hope you can join us!

Jørn Ølmheim, Paulo Merson, and Eoin Woods
SATURN 2017 Technical Co-Chairs

You submitted a proposal to SATURN 2017, and it got accepted. Congratulations! When conference participants step into the room to attend your talk, they will come with the highest of expectations--after all, they chose your talk over the others happening in parallel. The people who click on the YouTube video of your talk in the future will also have high expectations. So we want to help you deliver a great talk.

Not everybody was born a great speaker, but those who weren't can easily apply a few tips that will get them closer to a (conference) rock-star performance. Here are 15 tips for creating and giving a great presentation at SATURN:


  1. Provide value. Prepare a presentation that will allow attendees to successfully apply your ideas and experiences to their organizations.
  2. Avoid bloated slides. Audiences like illustrated slides better than text-heavy slides. Bulleted points should be no longer than two lines. Break long sentences into two bullets. If a slide has more than 5 or 6 bullets, consider splitting it into two slides.
  3. Enhance your presentation. Sensibly use pictures, graphs, tables, videos, callouts, animations, diagrams, and quotes to make your presentation more interesting. Imagery will improve attendees' retention and enjoyment.
  4. Create readable slides. A common complaint from SATURN evaluation forms is that slides were not readable, especially text in diagrams. For a simple way to check that all text is readable, print your presentation in 2 slides-per-page format. If you can easily read the printouts, the slides should be readable when projected.
  5. Manage time. Participants have also complained that presenters didn't cover all their slides or rushed through the final slides. If your session allows interaction throughout, be careful to cut short lengthy discussions. And above all, follow the tip below.
  6. Rehearse. The secret to a great presentation is practice, practice, practice. Rehearse your presentation at least a few times to train yourself on the flow of ideas. If you practice in front of the mirror, you can see what you look like when talking. You can also present to colleagues and get their feedback before heading to the conference. Don't forget to time yourself when rehearsing, and fine-tune the amount of material you can cover.


  1. Be natural. Your audience will be made up of your peers, and they will help you do a great job. Relax and be yourself, as in a conversation by the water cooler. Do not switch to "presentation mode" and speak in a monotonic way like the Terminator (it's ok to dress up and look cool like him, though).
  2. Be engaging. It's your job to keep everyone awake and engaged, and that's not easy, especially after lunch. Be dynamic and energetic. Show that you're passionate about the topic. To establish a rapport with the audience, tell a relevant story or simply smile. Avoid reading notes or your slides. Make eye contact to random people in the room.
  3. In 1 minute, give attendees a reason to stay for the next 30 minutes. Often people are not sure that they have chosen the right session. The first minute of your talk will help them decide, and you don't want to see them sneaking out to the talk next door. State your goals up front. Tell attendees what they will learn. You should also have an initial slide, a quotation, or a story that grabs their attention.
  4. Pace yourself. Some people naturally talk fast; others talk fast when nervous. At a conference, especially one with an international audience like SATURN's, you should speak just fast enough to cover all the content, and slow enough to be understood by all. Be sure to enunciate and speak clearly.
  5. Avoid filler words. Um, well, if you have, like, a pre-teen and a teenager at home like I do, then you're kinda familiar with, like, filler words, sounds, and whatever. Filler words make your communication less effective. You only have so many minutes to cover the slides, so train yourself to avoid them. Instead of filler words, you can ... pause.
  6. Pause. At specific points in your presentation, be silent for a few seconds. Pause right after you make an important remark to let people absorb it or right before making an important point to emphasize it. You can also combine the pause with the next tip.
  7. Modulate your voice. Use inflection and vary the pitch of your voice to avoid a monotonic, boring speech. Throughout your presentation you should speak loudly enough to be heard by everybody in the room. You can lower your voice for emphasis--if you whisper a sentence on the microphone, your audience will listen attentively, but you should do it sparingly.
  8. Look at the audience. Presenters often turn to the screen to look at the slides. Some keep on talking to the screen. Do not turn sideways or turn your back to the audience. If you need to look at the slide, look at the laptop screen on the podium or table in front of you. You may need to turn to the screen to use a laser pointer, but do it sparingly. People who like the pointer sometimes unintentionally overuse it by pointing it at every sentence and every figure on the slides.
  9. Move purposefully. Standing still behind the podium for your entire presentation is not ideal. Move closer to the audience, for example, to tell a story or answer a question. Move toward the screen to emphasize the importance of the information on the slide. But don't meander around the stage as if you were thinking about why the sky is blue. Also avoid pacing from side to side--some people do that when nervous, and it is distracting. Mind your posture: stand balanced when you aren't moving, without rocking back and forth, and keep your hands naturally at your sides or use them in meaningful ways in your communication.

The Ninth International Workshop on Managing Technical Debt will be held in conjunction with XP 2017 in Cologne, Germany, on May 22, 2017.

Technical debt is a metaphor that software developers and managers increasingly use to communicate key tradeoffs related to release and quality issues. The Managing Technical Debt workshop series has, since 2010, brought together practitioners and researchers to discuss and define issues related to technical debt and how they can be studied. Workshop participants reiterate the usefulness of the concept each year, share emerging practices used in software development organizations, and emphasize the need for more research and better means for sharing emerging practices and results.

The Ninth Workshop on Managing Technical Debt will bring together leading software researchers and practitioners, especially from the area of iterative and agile software development, for the purpose of exploring theoretical and practical techniques that quantify technical debt.

The following topics are aligned with our theme:

  • techniques and tools for managing technical debt in agile, DevOps, and other software development environments
  • techniques and tools for calculating technical debt principal and interest
  • technical debt in code, design, architecture, and development and delivery infrastructure
  • measurements and metrics for technical debt
  • empirical studies on technical debt evaluations

For more information about submitting a paper see the Call for Papers.

Writing a great session proposal for a developers' conference can be difficult, even for experienced public speakers and authors. Proposal writing is a distinct skill, different from writing great papers and giving amazing presentations. Your session proposal is what the reviewers will use to decide whether your session should be in the SATURN Conference technical program. Here are seven tips for writing a session proposal that will make reviewers go from frown to smile.

  1. Include all of the information requested in the Call for Submissions. Whether you are proposing an experience report presentation, participatory session, DEV@SATURN talk, or tutorial, the program committee needs this information to give your proposal a fair and thorough review. There are two fields for conveying this information: the "Description" field and the "Notes" field. The description is the public abstract of your talk. It will be seen by reviewers of your submission and will eventually be seen by the attendees of the event. You should make the description of your talk as compelling and exciting as possible. Remember, you're selling to both the organizers of the event to select your talk, and to conference attendees to come see it. The Notes section will be seen only by reviewers. This is where you should explain things such as technical requirements, why you're the best person to speak on this subject, etc.

  2. Be as specific as possible. The SATURN Program Committee is an experienced group and comes from a wide range of backgrounds. They are excited to hear specifics about what you want to teach us at SATURN and how you will do it.

  3. Include an outline, even if it's only tentative. The "Notes" section is your chance to expand on your abstract. Including an outline shows that you've thought through what you plan to present and helps the reviewers better understand the concepts and lessons you want to share at SATURN. For participatory sessions and tutorials, how will you spend your time?

  4. Tell us who you are. In a few sentences, tell us about your work history, your education, and any past work or research that will help establish your credibility. Reviewers also want to know that you can speak from first-hand experiences. The best way to demonstrate this is with a brief biography, highlighting your experience as a speaker or instructor. If you have access to a video of yourself presenting at a conference, include the link in "Additional Information" so the program committee can see you in action.

  5. Use your abstract to summarize and sell your talk. Why should participants attend? What will they learn? What is your topic and why is it important? A great abstract will describe the topic, summarize the key lessons, and pique interest.

  6. Show how your session will have lasting appeal. Reviewers want to see how your experience report, participatory session, DEV@SATURN talk, or tutorial will improve our overall understanding of software architecture. This could mean many different things, from sharing a completely new idea or experience to explaining a classic concept in a way that no one ever has before. Take a look at the SATURN 2016 and 2017 presentations and videos for some great examples.

  7. Plan ahead and submit early. Submissions close on January 16, 2017. Do not wait until the last minute to prepare your submission. Prepare, take time to review, refine your proposal, and submit early.

Historically, only 20-30% of submissions have been accepted. The conference chairs want to make the program committee's job as difficult as possible by making sure there is an abundance of amazing proposals from which to choose. They don't want any rejection to be easy. They want reviewers fighting to include your presentation, participatory session, or tutorial in the program. Arm them with the information they need to give your topic a thorough review by including all the information requested in the Call, by being as specific as possible, and by planning ahead to allow plenty of time to refine your submission.

Can you help us test improvements to the SEI external web presence?

What is happening with the SEI's external web presence?

The SEI is improving the user experience of our external web presence. We have made improvements to the website information architecture based on previous tree testing and design research and need to validate the success of those improvements.

What is tree testing and how does it work?

Tree testing is an evaluative design research method to assess the organization and discoverability of content on a website. It is deployed using information architecture validation software called Treejack. This allows us to determine whether our changes to the information architecture have improved the user interface.

What exactly would I be doing?

When you access the test at, you will be guided through a set of tasks in the online tool Treejack, a product of Optimal Workshop.

What's the time commitment?

10-15 minutes

What's in it for me?

All participants who complete the test will be entered in a raffle to win a $50 Amazon gift card. You will be asked for your email address, which will be used to select two winning participants.

What do I have to do?

Take the test at by end of day Wednesday, July 27.

Since 2010, the SEI and IEEE have been conferring two attendee-selected awards at SATURN. The IEEE Software SATURN Architecture in Practice Presentation Award is given to the presentation that best describes experiences, methods, and lessons learned from the implementation of software architecture practices. This year's award winner was Patrick Kua of ThoughtWorks for his presentation titled Evolutionary Architecture.

The second award, the IEEE Software SATURN New Directions Presentation Award, is given to the presentation that best describes innovative new approaches and thought leadership in the application of software architecture practices. This year's award winner was João de Sousa of Robert Bosch LLC for his presentation titled Going Bezirk: Things Plus Cloud Do Not Equal IoT.

In addition to reflecting the high regard of SATURN attendees, these awards also contribute to the maturation of the practice of software architecture by recognizing sound and innovative practices.

The technical program at SATURN 2016 this year includes a track dedicated to the Internet of Things (IoT). Attendees will not want to miss one special event in this track, to be held on Wednesday evening, May 4 at 6:00 pm, when Kent Meyer of Emcraft Systems will present Kids and IoT: An Integrated IoT Educational Platform.

Kent will discuss how one tech-savvy parent who is raising two "digital-native" children is working to prepare the coming generation for the changes and career opportunities that the Internet of Things is bringing to our world. This session will include the kids who are part of Kent's weekly workshops and their IoT projects, which include robots, drones, and Chromebooks. The future of IoT may just rest with these smaller humans, and SATURN attendees will have the opportunity to check out their work.

Here is a preview:

SATURN 2016 will take place May 2-5, 2016 in San Diego, California. Registration is open, and we hope you will choose to participate.

For two decades, the SEI has been instrumental in the creation and development of the field of software engineering known as software architecture. An architect whose skills and capabilities match a project's needs is more likely to be successful. So what are those skills?

Join SEI researchers and an industry colleague in a live-streamed discussion on What Makes a Good Software Architect?

Topics to be covered

  • John Klein and Andrew Kotov on Skills and Knowledge of Successful Architects
  • Ipek Ozkaya and Michael Keeling on Architects Design Trade-off Toolbox: Balancing Agility and Technical Debt

What attendees will learn

  • How the technical skills needed by a software architect change throughout a system's lifecycle and how this influences the architect's success
  • How architects should be the champions of product quality while making the right (and timely) design tradeoffs

Who Should Attend?

  • Architects
  • CTOs
  • Developers
  • Engineers
  • Testers
  • Business Analysts
  • Technical and Product Managers

Register at