Fog Creek Software
Discussion Board




Pattern language

Joel takes credit for independently discovering that Alexander's Pattern Language can be applied to system design:

"I bought
                      it because I'm interested in architecture. Then I noticed something: almost
                      everything in the book can be applied to the work we do as software
                      designers."

I am skeptical.

Tim Culver
Wednesday, March 13, 2002

I can believe it. I also "discovered" that book because of it's underlying philosphical ideology and my interest in architecture. I later learned that it was influential in the world of programming through a well read colleague.

I also thought the book was largely padded and overly poetic. The author kept telling us that he had to perpare us for the message because we wouldn't be ready for it otherwise. I can only be told that so many times before I begin to hate the author.

My review is on Amazon.com if you're interested.

Mark W
Wednesday, March 13, 2002

If you think about it, the measure of a good book is in how much you desire to apply it to the rest of your life.

Plus, Joel doesn't use it in the sense of Design Patterns.  His sense is more vague and user-oriented.  You should take a look at all three pattern language books, if you haven't.  It's more entertaining than Design Patterns.

OT:  Mark W, that must explain why I have a subconscious dislike of CJ Date, as well as enormous admiration.  People have to stop telling us to be prepared for the journey.  I have nine lives, I'm willing to starve once.

forgotten gentleman
Wednesday, March 13, 2002

Methinks your use of the term "good" is too vague to use in argumentation. What about a good page turner that you read simply for pleasure? Or a good book that gives you insights, but doesn't make you "desire to apply it to the rest of your life." Or one that quietly influences without you being consciously aware of it. I enjoyed Roger Zelazny's Amber series, but don't desire to apply it to my life. Does that mean it's not a good book?

You're right, it wasn't pattern language it was "The Timeless Way of Building" that turned me off. Timeless Way is the first in the series, so I picked it up first. Pattern Language looked to be just a giant list of patterns, so I never read it because, well, it wasn't a narrative, it was a laundry list. A rather gigantic one at that. The result of 10 year's work, I believe. Perhaps the substance to match the fluff.

OT: "Unfortunately, nobody can be told what the Matrix is." Uh, yeah right.

Mark W
Wednesday, March 13, 2002

I'll stand by what I said, even if it is offtopic.  Any book can be "good" if it has over 0 goodness.  So a nice pageturner is probably .1 good.  I have less lifespan after reading it, which definitely affects the rest of my life, but it was worth it.

Some books I am really engrossed with, like Interview with the Vampire.  While they may be merely pageturners, I am different after reading them.  So I give them more goodness than other good books.

Some books I assign complex units...

forgotten gentleman
Wednesday, March 13, 2002

While the book has made the rounds in the design pattern community for some time, it is reasonable that many people independently made the connection.  I haven't read the book - yet. I did make the connection bewteen musical talent and programming talent before I read about it elsewhere; as did most of my musician/programmer friends. Our pattern-recognition modules are very attuned to design patterns in all things.

Dan Sickles
Wednesday, March 13, 2002

I guess I assumed it was common knowledge that Alexander spoke to system designers.  After all, it was listed on the syllabus of a CS class at my school.  This shows how quickly something can be promoted to "classic" in our field!

Tim Culver
Thursday, March 14, 2002

I agree, it is 'common knowledge' but how each of us acquires that common knowledge is a story in and of itself.

Mark W
Thursday, March 14, 2002

*  Recent Topics

*  Fog Creek Home