3 Notes on Pattern Form

Words differently arranged have different meanings, andmeanings differently arranged have a different effect.

Blaise Pascal

This chapter examines the written form of patterns, revisiting some of the concepts examined in Chapter 1, A Solution to a Problem and More. This pattern form acts as the vehicle through which a pattern description communicates the essence and practicalities of the pattern. A focus on form is therefore as important to pattern readers as it is to pattern writers.

3.1 Style and Substance

Now that we have a more precise idea of the essential role and content of patterns, we can turn our attention toward their effective presentation. Even though a pattern can be considered independently of its presentation—the presentation is a vehicle for communicating a pattern—presentation is far from just a secondary detail. In fact, the presentation of patterns is considered as important to the whole idea as the content. It is not a question of style versus substance: the intimacy between communication and content is such that the style is part of the substance—there is no contradiction or conflict between the two.

One of the original aims of the pattern community was to spread the word about good practices in software development. From a practical perspective, good practice poorly communicated is the same as no practice at all: it might as well not exist, and is as mute and unnoticed as any practice communicated poorly. Worse, good practices communicated ...

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