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AntiPatterns: Refactoring Software, Architectures, and Projects in Crisis [Paperback]

William J. Brown , Raphael C. Malveau , Hays W. "Skip" McCormick , Thomas J. Mowbray
3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (38 customer reviews)
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Book Description

April 3 1998
"The AntiPatterns authors have clearly been there and done that when it comes to managing software development efforts. I resonated with one insight after another, having witnessed too many wayward projects myself. The experience in this book is palpable." -John Vlissides, IBM Research "This book allows managers, architects, and developers to learn from the painful mistakes of others. The high-level AntiPatterns on software architecture are a particularly valuable contribution to software engineering. Highly recommended!" -Kyle Brown Author of The Design Patterns Smalltalk Companion "AntiPatterns continues the trend started in Design Patterns. The authors have discovered and named common problem situations resulting from poor management or architecture control, mistakes which most experienced practitioners will recognize. Should you find yourself with one of the AntiPatterns, they even provide some clues on how to get yourself out of the situation." -Gerard Meszaros, Chief Architect, Object Systems Group Are you headed into the software development mine field? Follow someone if you can, but if you're on your own-better get the map! AntiPatterns is the map. This book helps you navigate through today's dangerous software development projects. Just look at the statistics:
* Nearly one-third of all software projects are cancelled.
* Two-thirds of all software projects encounter cost overruns in excess of 200%.
* Over 80% of all software projects are deemed failures.
While patterns help you to identify and implement procedures, designs, and codes that work, AntiPatterns do the exact opposite; they let you zero-in on the development detonators, architectural tripwires, and personality booby traps that can spell doom for your project. Written by an all-star team of object-oriented systems developers, AntiPatterns identifies 40 of the most common AntiPatterns in the areas of software development, architecture, and project management. The authors then show you how to detect and defuse AntiPatterns as well as supply refactored solutions for each AntiPattern presented.

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From Amazon

If patterns are good ideas that can be re-applied to new situations, AntiPatterns: Refactoring Software, Architectures, and Projects in Crisis looks at what goes wrong in software development, time and time again. This entertaining and often enlightening text defines what seasoned developers have long suspected: despite advances in software engineering, most software projects still fail to meet expectations--and about a third are cancelled altogether.

The authors of AntiPatterns draw on extensive industry experience, their own and others, to help define what's wrong with software development today. They outline reasons why problem patterns develop (such as sloth, avarice, and greed) and proceed to outline several dozen patterns that can give you headaches or worse.

Their deadliest hit list begins with the Blob, where one object does most of the work in a project, and Continuous Obsolescence, where technology changes so quickly that developers can't keep up. Some of the more entertaining antipatterns include the Poltergeist (where do-nothing classes add unnecessary overhead), the Boat Anchor (a white elephant piece of hardware or software bought at great cost) and the Golden Hammer (a single technology that is used for every conceivable programming problem). The authors then proceed to define antipatterns oriented toward management problems with software (including Death by Planning and Project Mismanagement, along with several miniature antipatterns, that help define why so many software projects are late and overbudget).

The authors use several big vendors' technologies as examples of today's antipatterns. Luckily, they suggest ways to overcome antipatterns and improve software productivity in "refactored solutions" that can overcome some of these obstacles. However, this is a realistic book, a mix of "Dilbert" and software engineering. A clever antidote to getting too optimistic about software development, AntiPatterns should be required reading for any manager facing a large-scale development project. --Richard Dragan

From the Publisher

Patterns are popular in software development and used to identify different types of procedures, designs, or codes that work. AntiPatterns are the exact opposite. They target common mistakes, errors, and people issues that can cause a software project to fail. Despite its negative sounding name, the positive benefits of AntiPatterns are enormous. This book discusses what AntiPatterns are and then provides practical guidelines on how to detect AntiPatterns and the refactored solutions that correct them. The authors discuss over 40 different AntiPatterns in the areas of software development, architecture, and project management.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
I was very anxiuos about reading this book. Before of purchasing it, I had already read some info and presentations on the web (c2 wiki, antippaterns site, etc.). I already knew the catalog and i'd like it very much.
But the book...what can i say of the book? first of all, I found it quite boring and verbose. The same could have been sayed using half of the words or maybe less...
In the book I've found a couple of annoying things:
- The authors quote themselves ALL the time
- The solution to ALL architecture antipatterns (and software as well) includes a reference to CORBA, OMG IDL or open systems...There are more things in the world! What can we, developers in sin, that don't use open systems or corba do?!?!
- They never do quote the GoF work, altough in same cases it would be very helpful, instructive and fair. In turn, they quote to their CORBA patterns book
- They only quote the GoF to say that their patterns are complex and that antipatterns are easier and funnier. Couldn't disagree more on this!
- There are some contradictory ideas throughout the book
- They are doing themselfs in some of the antipatterns (I would not say which ones, but after a quick read is easy to guess ;))
- The second chapter, the reference model, is very boring and with lots of unnecesary rethoric
- In fact, all the book is full of unnecesary and unpleasant rethoric stuff
- After reading the book from cover to cover, I realized that just reading the "Appendix A" I would had enough
- The name of the book is tricky. They don't say nothing about CORBA, but inside the book they say that this is the companion book of "CORBA Design Patterns"
- Many of the solutions are biased
- Their concept about refactoring is quite "fuzzy"...
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Let this book be what it is. Dec 11 2001
By A Customer
I can't believe the number of reviews on this site that compared the book to Design Patterns from GOF. If you bought it expecting the same, write yourself the one-star review. This book does have some problems, but it really does a whole lot of things very well.
- It's easy, and fun, to read. The authors expertly inject humor and life into a dead topic. A dull book with good ideas will rot on the shelf.
- It provides a fresh, new angle that has value. We programmers do not learn enough from war stories told around the water cooler.
- It provides the other side of the design pattern. You really do need both, and this industry needed someone to take a stab at creating a template for antipatterns. Consider health care. You need diagnostics and preventative care. Ditto for auto maintenance. Operations research has been built around building models that work while trouble shooting the kinks in a system. The authors did a noble job of seeing the vacuum and stepping up to fill it.
I find it incredible that this book has been slammed for something that it does not pretend to be. If you wrote a one star review because this book was not the second coming of the Design Patterns book, then shame on you. What you will get is a humerous look at some very real problems around software development. The bias is clearly toward project management, and that is a appropriate for a first book on antipatterns. That much was clear to me from browsing the book for a minute or two. Great job, team.
If I had a criticism, it would be that the contributions from the four authors were not better coordinated. After writing two books with two additional co-authors each, I can testify that it is a difficult problem to solve. Still, better coordination could have helped. Five stars for the writing style and the concept. That's why this book is a smashing success.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A good start April 25 2004
Now that Design Patterns have been in the main stream for a decade or so, the idea is ready for rejuvenation. "Antipatterns" does a good job at its part of that update. The full analytic technique should include
-- patterns (what works well)
-- antipatterns (what fails miserably, sooner or later), and
-- refactoring or reengineering (connecting the two).
So far, that trio hasn't been put together in a systematic way. This book is a fair first stab at the list of common offenders, though. It has an exploratory style - it distinguishes major and minor (mini) problems, while trying out different ways of expressing evils of different scales. It proposes a systematic way to diagnose each problem, identify causes, and overcome the problem that left the mess in the first place. This is all good, even if Brown et al. haven't left the study in its final form.
This book may have lasting value, if only because it's the first to use the "patterns" methodology in studying what not to do. It's good for beginners who haven't seen the messes first-hand, and good for experienced developers who want to systematize their scars and war stories.
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1.0 out of 5 stars Skip it - poorly written; little substance July 14 2003
By A Customer
I've gotten a lot of milage out of the GoF Design Patterns book, but like many people, I have seen software where design patterns were applied inappropriately. I was looking for a book that explored some common pathologies of Patterns-based design and suggested appropriate refactorings to overcome them.
Sadly, this book is not the one I was looking for. Large amounts of the book are filled with mindless jargon, or would be better aimed at managment consultants than software engineers. The authors have a bizarre obsession with CORBA, and several of the "antipatterns" seem to be little more than a personal rant about failed CORBA projects the authors have been involved with.
Worse, the antipatterns that discuss software rather than organizational issues are often so poorly written that they are useless. Often they are written in such vague language that you can't figure out what type of system is being discussed. The problem is compounded by facile examples that don't clearly illustrate the problem or the possible solution. The authors can't even manage a clear definition & example of "Spaghetti Code", which any 1st year engineer has probably encountered.
SAVE YOUR MONEY. I'd recommend reading GoF's Design Patterns and Martin Fowler's Refactoring instead of this book.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Joy and Pain
I picked up this book at one of the few remaining good bookstores that caters to IT professionals and found it an enjoyable read. Read more
Published on July 27 2003 by Ask Doctor Java
1.0 out of 5 stars Skip it - poorly written; little substance
I've gotten a lot of milage out of the GoF Design Patterns book, but like many people, I have seen software where design patterns were applied inappropriately. Read more
Published on July 14 2003
2.0 out of 5 stars Great book if you want to know about KAYAKING
This book basically explains to managers how their development team screws up. The examples of how to fix the problems are too basic. Read more
Published on July 9 2002 by D. Hicks
2.0 out of 5 stars This is NOT a book on architectural patterns
- This book is on process and *NOT* architecture.
- It is for managers and not for developers. Read more
Published on Sept. 4 2001 by John Sandberg
4.0 out of 5 stars Worthwhile second book on patterns
Like practically all books on patterns I encountered so far this book doesn't lent itself easily to reading cover to cover and its difficult to use as a reference book without... Read more
Published on Aug. 17 2001 by ws__
1.0 out of 5 stars DO NOT BUY THIS BOOK!
The material in this book is unbelievably superficial and reeks of the authors' pretentiousness. It is referenced frequently in the pattern literature, but don't go anywhere near... Read more
Published on Aug. 12 2001
2.0 out of 5 stars A book that itself screams for refactoring...
I found some value in AntiPatterns for the comprehensive collection of "common pitfalls" that it describes; but it is otherwise seriously disappointing. Read more
Published on March 16 2001 by Laurent Bossavit
1.0 out of 5 stars A noble but failed effort
A noble effort, but this book fails to sufficiently build upon existing literature. Steve McConnell's _Code Complete_ and _Rapid Development_ do a better job covering similar... Read more
Published on Jan. 28 2001 by Zig Zichterman
5.0 out of 5 stars Sad but true
We have all seen it, OO gone bad, CS principles abused. Well this book does a good effort to catalog those horror stories. Read more
Published on Dec 27 2000 by V. Ravindran
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