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Design Pattern Snobs

Design Pattern Snobs

Have you noticed lately how the word pattern seems to be creeping into general musings and dialogue more and more? Like name-dropping, it's consciously woven into the fabric of the conversation as a way to assert a certain level of understanding and credibility. Mention the latest design pattern and suddenly your peers will see you as a genius of software engineering, "...you see I have employed the Decorator pattern for this particular class..." While you're fighting the urge to give them a good slap, allow me to let you into the big secret. There is none!

When perusing various article submissions for our beloved magazine, I am constantly surprised to see how laden down with buzzwords the proposals are, as if vainly attempting to show off their superior knowledge by dazzling our editors with fancy acronyms and big words. I had an exchange with one potential author, who I would class as the typical design-pattern snob. I'm sure you've come across them at some point. They're the ones who love using this terminology, and chastise anyone who doesn't understand or uses an unofficial pattern.

To that end I had to do something ­ I had reached the saturation point. Although I am a young fellow, I have to hold my hand up and say I was educated in an era before design patterns were even invented. Yes, it's true, such a time did exist. In my day they were called data structures. Now admittedly, this doesn't sound half as sexy as design patterns, but they were the exact same thing without today's buzzwords.

To all those developers who are getting frustrated with the constant use of the word patterns, and who feel they may be missing out on some great new movement, I say to you: don't panic. They're just repackaging the stuff you've been doing for years in a format that can be openly discussed. For example, the class you designed that can have only one instance created ­ in the pattern world, this would be known as a Singleton class. Easy, eh? Not shrouded in as much mystery now. A design pattern does not specify any code, nor does it even specify a template, merely a way of doing something. A pattern!

The next time you get into a discussion on design patterns, be it at an interview or over the water cooler, stay calm, and merely ask the offender to explain what exactly he or she means. I would guess that 9 times out of 10 you've used it many times and didn't even realize you were a design pattern follower!

.  .  .

Last month I highlighted how delighted I was with a great client-side technology, www.thinlet.com, and how it was a wonderful example of how Java, in the right hands, can really rock. This month I have found another. It's not a tool for Java developers, however; it's more for the masses. Check out www.freedomaudio.com, a lightweight Java audio tool for listening to streaming MP3 and Ogg files inside your browser. It works very well, and Kendal, the man behind it, has put a lot of effort into writing his own libraries to ensure that they're small, as opposed to using some of the bloated official Java APIs. Yet another shining example in which small can be beautiful, and creativity and engineering can prove that Java is still the only one to win against Flash and other plug-in technologies.

Keep up the good work, people. We are proud of you. Your community needs you.

More Stories By Alan Williamson

Alan Williamson is widely recognized as an early expert on Cloud Computing, he is Co-Founder of aw2.0 Ltd, a software company specializing in deploying software solutions within Cloud networks. Alan is a Sun Java Champion and creator of OpenBlueDragon (an open source Java CFML runtime engine). With many books, articles and speaking engagements under his belt, Alan likes to talk passionately about what can be done TODAY and not get caught up in the marketing hype of TOMORROW. Follow his blog, http://alan.blog-city.com/ or e-mail him at cloud(at)alanwilliamson.org.

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