When building business-critical applications for an enterprise environment, it is common to first gather requirements from domain experts using a business analyst. The business analyst then formulates a set of requirements which are given to an architect. The architect, in turn, creates some design documents which the development team translates into code.
One problem here is that the distance between the ones who implement the solution and the domain experts is considerable. Information is filtered through many persons. An advantage is that we end up with documentation describing the product.
In agile development, the domain experts talk directly to the development team. Changes are fast, and the development pace can be high, but the process is likely to produce some waste as well. The development team might not be proficient in communicating with the domain expert.
The business analyst in the previous example is an expert in interviewing domain experts and writing down requirements. The agile process might also produce less documentation which makes it harder for developers entering the project late to understand the big picture.
In domain driven development domain experts, the development team and other stakeholders strive to build a shared mental model of the business process. Having a programming language with a strong type system also helps to model the domain directly in code meaning that if the requirements change the code will not compile anymore (see “Domain Modeling Made Functional“).
The claimed advantage of aligning the software model with the business domain is a faster time to market, more business value, less waste and easier maintenance and evolution.
Recommended guidelines for working with a domain driven design is to focus on what is called business events and workflows instead of data structures. This way the business requirements are captured in a way that hidden requirements are not lost as easily while the developer is not superimposing his or her technical solutions on the design too early.
The problem domain needs to be partitioned into smaller subdomains such that the subdomains are not too large. The subdomains should match domains in the organization, not necessarily the actual company hierarchy, but instead real domains.
Each subdomain has to be modeled in the solution in such a way that the solution does not share any persistent data with other subdomains. If a subdomain needs information from another subdomain, it has to ask for it instead of just accessing directly in the database.
A so-called ubiquitous language needs to be developed. The language is shared between all the participants of the project and in the code as well. There might be local variations in the meaning of words in different domains, and that is okay as long as those differences are understood, otherwise unnecessary conflicts and misunderstandings could arise.
The shared mental model of the domain allows other stakeholders to understand what is going on as well since business processes are described on a high level while the code is documenting the requirements directly and dictates how data structures should be designed instead of the other way around.