How Do Elementary Patterns
Help Make the World a Better Place?

Christopher Alexander says that the patterns of built space should make the world a better place to be. I think that the folks who introduced patterns to the software world have this same goal for software patterns. Early in my experience with patterns, I always thought that this meant that patterns made the world better for software developers. After all, they are the folks who "live" in the software most directly: they design, they implement, they test, and they maintain software over time. Besides, the users of software already have their "advocates" in the form of interface design techniques.

My friend Joe Bergin has always said that software patterns should make the world a better place for more than just developers, and that users are one of the groups whose lives patterns can make better. One way that software patterns make a users live better, he said, is by helping developers deliver better software. I'm beginning to understand this perspective better.

But I do most of my work on so-called elementary patterns, which are software patterns at a much lower level of expertise. How do these patterns make the world a better place to be? Here are some of my evolving thoughts. I'd be interested in hearing yours.

My thoughts on this idea continue to evolve. I'd be interested to hear what you think.

Eugene Wallingford ... October 16, 2000