9 Elements of Language

We dissect language along lines laid down by our nativelanguage… Language is not simply a reporting devicefor experience but a defining framework for it.

Benjamin Whorf, linguist and anthropologist

This chapter takes the first step toward pattern languages. We reexamine the pattern concepts introduced and applied earlier in the book from the perspective of trying to establish a language of design that is more than just a vocabulary of design elements. Pattern collections, stories, and sequences provide part of the picture, but not all of it.

9.1 Designing with Patterns

In Part II, Between Patterns, we explored the space between patterns and discussed pattern complements, pattern compounds, pattern stories, pattern sequences, and pattern collections. A common theme that cuts across these various concepts is their support for designing with patterns. In particular, they acknowledge that a production software system must resolve many different design and implementation problems. For each problem it is necessary to compare available solution alternatives carefully and recognize that the chosen solutions can influence—and be influenced by—the potential solution spaces of other related problems.

Stand-alone patterns, as discussed in Part I, Inside Patterns, do not address such issues. By definition, they focus single-mindedly on resolving a single problem with a specific set of forces, without considering—or at best briefly considering—alternative solutions and ...

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