Re: small revision to CSS1
From: John Tobler <JOHNT@nebfef.com>
| I am a professional software engineer and system architect in the
| student loan "industry." I'm also an avid fan of Alexander's
| principles--in software design and out. I suppose I'll make
| this a little lengthy and it can serve as my "introduction"
| to the list group.
Alexander has no software design principles; he has the principle that
there are pattern languages that can generate "living" solutions to
human problems. He believes that the pattern languages are (as I read
him) universal and timeless (inherent in humanity, I guess). There is
an explicit assumption that the pattern language is part of the culture
- that everyone knows it and lives it.
| I want to see us design and build human-compatible software
| systems--"cyberspace" constructs made with all the humanity
| I find in Alexander's work. I want to see users "live"
| as comfortably and productively within our software
| "buildings" as the residents most likely would in one of
| Alexander's designs. I also want to see our designs make
| life as easy and possible for our software systems' analogues
| to "plumbers" and "delivery persons."
Your goals are worthy. However, I see no reason to believe that we are
anywhere near a common pattern language for software. Software is too
new and too fragmented. I don't think we're ready to write one, either.
We don't know enough about the possibilities or potentials of the
medium. I don't think we have even a clue as to what are effective
patterns for the user end of software or for how to hand to users the
ability to design and construct their own software tools.
For what it's worth, I *wouldn't* want to live in one of Alexander's
houses. They look cold, dark, claustrophobic, and cluttered, to me,
though they have many features that I do value. And I don't think he
has much to say about making life easy for plumbers or delivery persons,
either, at least in the patterns in APL.
So, call me grouchy if you like, but I would much rather see discussion
focus on how to apply some of the patterns principles practically (for
things like software pedagogy) than spend a lot of time trying to
decide whether an end-user is a 'user' or an 'inhabitant'. I don't
think it's a relevant question. For what it's worth, the discussion of
how to design a teakettle, in Notes on the Synthesis of Form, is
probably more directly relevant than APL.
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