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Get an overview of the broader universe of design patterns in this conclusion to Jeff Friesen's Design patterns, the big picture series. Find out how interaction designers, software architects, and agile development teams use design patterns to improve software development processes and products. Then get tips for using communication and presentation patterns to further your own career in software development.
Whenever an activity occurs in repetition, such as programming, patterns emerge and can be documented. The benefits of documenting and using software design patterns are well established, as are some common pitfalls. In this final article in the Design patterns, the big picture series, we'll move beyond the software design patterns that Java developers know so well to look at four other types of patterns that also are relevant to software development. Read on to find out how design patterns are used to improve application usability, enterprise architecture, software development processes, workplace communication, and technical presentations.
The two previous articles in this series addressed software design patterns that apply to object-oriented development. See Part 1 for an overview of design patterns including their history and classification. See Part 2 for a fresh look at the Gang of Four patterns. Additional software design pattern categories include data access patterns , concurrency patterns, enterprise patterns, and real-time patterns. Patterns have even been noted in the usage of the relatively new JavaFX .
Christopher Alexander's A Pattern Language: Towns, Buildings, Construction could be considered the "big bang" that illuminated a universe of design patterns. If software design patterns comprise one of this universe's galaxies, interaction design patterns comprise another one.
An interaction design pattern is a design pattern that describes a solution to a common usability or accessibility problem in a specific context such as software development. Interaction design patterns are used in interaction design, where products are designed for human use. For example, consider how human beings might interact with a holographic display. Would we control the device through physical controls or via a virtual (shimmering) control panel?
Software developers typically engage in interaction design when we consider the usability of a user interface (UI), such as Microsoft's Metro UI for Windows 8. As you might recall, Metro was designed to be user-friendly on tablets, but proved less accommodating for desktops. The controversy surrounding Metro proves that interaction design is a challenging and important field.
Interaction design pre-dates the digital era; for example, consider America's automotive industry in the early 1900s. The fact that an American automobile's steering wheel is on the left side of the vehicle, and not the right, is an example of interaction design. In the digital realm, Xerox's Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) invented the GUI and mouse, which have been enabling users to interact with their computers since the 1970s. (Both components were popularized by Apple via its early Macintosh computers.)