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Patterns of Software: Tales from the Software Community Hardcover

ISBN-13: 978-0195102697 ISBN-10: 019510269X Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA; 1st edition (August 15, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 019510269X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195102697
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 6.5 x 9.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,256,106 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

A wide-ranging set of essays by a long-time Silicon Valley insider. Gabriel muses on software development, factors that have led to the success or failure of software companies, the nature of successful programming languages, and more. Evidently, Gabriel is currently writing poetry, and his concern for language and the well-turned phrase shows up in this book as well.

Review

"This is a clear, insightful book that takes an alternative look at some of the broader issues surrounding software development.... The commentary on the work of Christopher Alexander, currently being taken up so fervently by the software architecture community, is particularly appealing."--Sanjiv Gossain, Associate Director, Cambridge Technology Partners

"The essays are both entertaining and insightful.... Gabriel has an outstanding command of English which makes his writing readable and entertaining."--Steve Bilow, Journal of Object-Oriented Programming

"...Gabriel is an illuminating guide, providing fresh and invigorating perspectives guaranteed to stick with you long after you boot up."--San Francisco Sunday Examiner and Chronicle

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Customer Reviews

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Gabriel writes well.
thomsen@alodar.com
This book is a very interesting and entertaining read for anyone who is involved (or is thinking of getting involved) in serious software development.
Michael Vanier
The extraordinary depth of thought is refreshing, and the conclusions he came to in the 1990s are interesting to revisit with hindsight.
James Blomo

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

30 of 31 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 6, 2000
Format: Paperback
There is an excitement in reading what everyone else is afraid to say---and the software world is full of taboos.
I passed up "Patterns of Software" a million times in the stores; because of the title, I thought it was yet another book on software Patterns (capital P) in the vein of "Design Patterns" and other recent missives on high-level design.
Then I read Richard Gabriel's essay "Worse is Better," available on the web. Though the tone can be bitter and depressing at times, I was immediately hooked on this rare find: a hardcore Lisp person making honest criticisms of both the philosophy and practice of the Lisp world (i.e. academe and the AI industry.)
His book is even more rewarding than the essay, because in it Gabriel offers a social theory of software. He explains the overwhelming success and enduring popularity of the C language, but, refreshingly, he does this without taking the easy way out and simply insulting the intelligence of everyone who is not a Lisp user. Gabriel's lessons come from the real world---documented in this semi-autobiographical book---and he didn't always like the answer.
While it does discuss Patterns (more deeply and more critically than almost anything else, in my opinion) it is primarily about some common patterns (lowercase p) in the software industry.
Such as: why does the "best product" often fail miserably in the marketplace? After the enormous success of UNIX in the 70's and 80's (and the failure of almost everything else) this became an important question. Especially for those who wished to succeed UNIX.
Gabriel's answer turns on what has been perhaps been said best by writer Virginia Postrel: "Quality is not one-dimensional.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Andrew T. Wilson on June 8, 1999
Format: Paperback
There are many people who can operate a word processor with sufficient skill to create a book about computers and software that someone will publish; there are only a few published authors in our business who are also truly good writers. Richard Gabriel is one of the latter. In "Performance and Evaluation of Lisp Systems," he showed he could create a lively book on possibly the single most esoteric subject imaginable. In "Patterns of Software," he demonstrates his skill in essays ranging from patterns in Turkish carpets to the hard lessons of software startups, from the joys of riding cross-country in a Corvette at 125 mph to the often demeaning life of a graduate student.
The last essay alone, "Money through Innovation Reconsidered," would justify purchase of the book. Gabriel does a masterful job of analyzing one of the apparent paradoxes of software engineering: that the "best-engineered" software products can be spectacular failures in the market (e.g. Common Lisp, for reasons Gabriel dissects in depth; and, remember Ada?), while the most successful products have a ball-of-mud-that-just-grew quality (yesterday DOS; today Linux).
The more time you have been schooled in "the right way" to build software, the harder this truth is to accept; but it is truth nonetheless, for reasons Gabriel lays out succinctly. The essay deserves a place near Arthur C. Clarke's classic SF short story "Superiority." Read both and you'll see the connection.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By David N. Reiss on August 19, 2000
Format: Hardcover
This book is one of the best personal commentaries written about the Computer industry as a business and culture that consists of people. Richard Ganriel is best known for his essay "Worse is Better" which is available on the web. "Worse is better" has the Corollary to it that is sometimes more understandable to folks: "if it works then it ain't temporary". This book contains that essay as well as others on Gabriels philosophy on computers, artificial intelligence and other aspects of the field.
But the book contains more than just his thoughts and views on the computer field. It also contains a what is calls his "Personal Narrative", an autobiography of himself and how he grew up and why and how he ended as a computer scientist. It also contains the story of the AI startup company he founded in the 1980s Lucid.
Lucid, if remembered much today, is because of Lucid Emacs, now XEmacs, which was orginally authored by Jamie Zawinki for Lucid, based on the work of Ricard Stallman and GNU Emacs. Xemacs is the remaining gift that Lucid gave to the computer community.
Lucid was a company that pretty much failed, in Gabriels opinion, because of bad management and the "worse is better" hold on the industry, because it had great products that sold.
This book, along with the somewhat different "Fire in the Valley" by Michael Swaine and Paul Freiberger. Both explain a lot about the computer industry and how it works, and doesn't work. Building a better mousetrap is not a Guarantee of sucess.
Highly recommened book.
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