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Design Pattern Snobs (and Buzzwords)

3 replies on 1 page. Most recent reply: Dec 2, 2002 6:27 AM by Richard Hansen

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Bill Venners

Posts: 2284
Nickname: bv
Registered: Jan, 2002

Design Pattern Snobs (and Buzzwords) Posted: Nov 26, 2002 5:12 AM
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Java Developer Journal has published an article by Alan Williamson in which he equates design patterns to data structures and laments the design pattern "snob."

http://www.sys-con.com/java/article.cfm?id=1713

Here's an excerpt:

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.


First of all, peruse means read carefully, not skim. And second of all, design patterns are not just a fancy word for data structures. Design patterns are perhaps more like behavior structures.

Nevertheless, I think this article does raise a valid complaint about the buzzword-oriented nature of this industry. The software industry seems to always be chasing after the latest buzzword. Why is that?

What do you think of Alan Williamson's comments? What do you think of the buzzword-oriented nature of the software industry?


Dinesh Bhat

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Nickname: dinesh
Registered: Nov, 2002

Re: Design Pattern Snobs (and Buzzwords) Posted: Nov 26, 2002 6:28 AM
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I cannot really comment on people' attitude and their motivation behind using buzzwords, but I use design patterns as a design vocabulary, that allows me to communicate my design much more efficiently than having to explain the entire class layout. I would certainly prefer to talk about a Singleton than about a class that controls the number of instances of an object.
Design Pattern "buzzwords" are terms that become familiar and part of your vocabulary with regular usage, like any other terminology, be it EJB, JSP, JMS , etc.

Dinesh

Bill Venners

Posts: 2284
Nickname: bv
Registered: Jan, 2002

Re: Design Pattern Snobs (and Buzzwords) Posted: Nov 26, 2002 8:22 AM
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> I cannot really comment on people' attitude and their
> motivation behind using buzzwords, but I use design
> patterns as a design vocabulary, that allows me to
> communicate my design much more efficiently than having to
> explain the entire class layout. I would certainly prefer
> to talk about a Singleton than about a class that controls
> the number of instances of an object.
> Design Pattern "buzzwords" are terms that become familiar
> and part of your vocabulary with regular usage, like any
> other terminology, be it EJB, JSP, JMS , etc.
>
I agree about the vocabulary aspect of design patterns, that design pattern names give us a way to communicate about our systems at a high level of abstraction. I think that's one of the very useful aspects of design patterns.

I don't think of "Singleton" or "Decorator" as buzzwords. I mean that "Design Patterns" was a buzzword. People bought books if they had the word "patterns" in the title, so authors and publishers sometimes tried to work that word into their titles.

Java was a buzzword back in its early days, when applets first started showing up in browsers. I would classify XML and XP as current buzzwords in our industry. My impression until recently was that design patterns were still in their buzzword phase, though I'm starting to hear otherwise.

The cycle of a buzzword is that the buzzworded idea receives a flurry of enthusiasm and generates high expectations. Then later it kind of falls out of fashion. The idea usually has merits, but the expectations are usually exceed the actual promise of the idea.

I think it is human to latch onto certain new ideas that seem promising. But it seems to happen more in the software industry. Perhaps I'm just not a construction industry insider, but I don't hear of new buzzwords taking the building construction industry by storm every year or so.

Of course, the building construction industry is a much older and more mature industry than the software construction industry. Maybe the buzzword-oriented nature of the software industry arises partly out of our youth. We don't feel like we've yet figured out how to build software, so we're constantly looking for and ready to get excited about new ideas.

Richard Hansen

Posts: 1
Nickname: rwhansen
Registered: Dec, 2002

Re: Design Pattern Snobs (and Buzzwords) Posted: Dec 2, 2002 6:27 AM
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Believe me, as someone who used to be very involved in the "building construction industry", there are plenty of buzzwords there too. The only difference is that the buzzwords are often associated with real tangible things like new tools or new building products and not just building techniques. There has been tremendous change in the building industry in the last 25 years and there have been many new fad products.

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