Pattern language, architecture, culture

Currently, I’m re-reading the excellent essay Mob Software: The Erotic Life of Code by Richard P. Gabriel and Ron Goldman, in which the authors quote Christopher Alexander thus (from his book The Timeless Way of Building, which I intend to read sometime soon):

Let us start by seeing how the great cathedrals, Chartres and Notre Dame, were made within a pattern language…. There were hundreds of people, each making his part within the whole, working, often for generations. At any given moment there was usually one master builder, who directed the overall layout…but each person in the whole had, in his mind, the same overall language. Each person executed each detail in the same general way, but with minor differences. The master builder did not need to force the design of the details down the builders’ throats, because the builders themselves knew enough of the shared pattern language to make the details correctly, with their own individual flair….

From this I get the feeling that Alexander by “pattern language” means what I have thought of as (first) the software architecture and (more recently) the team culture (from which the architecture emerges – unless you set out to plan it all in advance). This quote makes me want to get my hands on that book fast!

The above was posted to my personal weblog on October 9, 2002. My name is Peter Lindberg and I am a thirtysomething software developer and dad living in Stockholm, Sweden. Here, you’ll find posts in English and Swedish about whatever happens to interest me for the moment.


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