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on 12 March 2014
Superb for C++ devs, but inaccurate/misleading if you're programming in any modern OO language. Doesn't deserve to be on uni reading lists anymore for this reason.
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on 9 October 2010
I've worked in the IT industry exclusively since 2006 when I graduated from university. This book was required reading for the Design Patterns module I elected to do. Back to 2010 and I've found myself doing more OO and re-factoring of some complex code bases. I picked up my copy and realised just how out-dated the examples are, especially for developers using Java / C#. The examples might be more relevant to C++ developers but I find the book really heavy going and quite hard to digest.

Design patterns are not difficult and books like Head First Design Patterns are better introductions to Designs Patterns than the GoF book. Unfortunately the Head First series does not cover all the patterns in the GoF and the Head First book is not designed to be a reference book. That said I remember much more of what I read when compared to this text.

Unfortunately there is no alternative that provides essential coverage of some of the most common patterns used day to day.

In short if your new to patterns and have a limited budget go for the Head First Book, while not a reference its a much gentler introduction.
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on 7 March 1997
This book really changed my way of thinking about object-oriented design. The idea is that when designing a new class hierarchy, though implementation details may differ, you often find yourself using the same kinds of solutions over and over again. Rather than approaching each design task out of context as an individual, isolated problem, the strategy is to study the task and identify the underlying design pattern most likely to be applicable, and follow the class structure outlined by that pattern. It's a "cookbook" school of design that works amazingly well.
There are other advantages to this book. It isolates 23 of the most common patterns and presents them in detail. You wouldn't think that 23 patterns would be enough, but once you become adept at recognizing patterns, you'll find that a large fraction of the patterns you use in practice are among these 23. For each pattern, the book carefully presents the intent of the pattern, a motivating example, consequences of using that pattern, implementation considerations and pitfalls, sample code (C++ or Smalltalk), known uses of that pattern in real-world applications, and a list of related patterns.
Upon first reading, you will start to recognize these patterns in the frameworks you see. Upon second reading, you'll begin to see how these patterns can help you in your own designs, and may also start to see new patterns not listed in the book. Once you become familiar with the pattern concept, you will be able to originate your own patterns, which will serve you well in the future. One of the most valuable contributions of this book is that it is designed not merely to help you identify patterns, but to give you a sense of which patterns are appropriate in which contexts.
I think this book is particularly valuable to many C++ and Java programmers, because of the dynamic and flexible design philosophy it follows. (Its two fundamental principles of reusable OO design are: "Program to an interface, not an implementation" and "Favor object composition over class inheritance".) I've found that many C++ books unfortunately tend to emphasize a rather static and inflexible design philosophy. Many C++ programmers do not realize how the language and the books they've studied from have been limiting their thinking until they have been exposed to ideas from other lanugages. The authors of this book have obviously been influenced by other languages as well, especially Smalltalk, and have brought many of its best lessons to C++ design. Most Java books seem to take after the C++ books, even though Java is a more dynamic language. This book may help Java programmers take full advantage of the extra power offered by their language, if they look deeply enough into some of the lesser-known features its runtime system affords.
Last, but not least, this book is valuable because it names the patterns it uses, and so gives programmers a common vocabulary to describe design concepts, rather than particular implementations. You'll find yourself saying things like, "That would be a good use for a Decorator", or "Should we use a Facade or a Mediator in this case?" I encourage readers of this book to use this vocabulary with other programmers.
In summary, this is one of the few books that I think belongs on every programmer's "must-have" list. Not to overuse a cliche, but like object-oriented design itself, the pattern concept is one of those rare paradigm-shifts in computer programming. It is equally valuable to expert professional and novice student alike. The book has a home page at [...]
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on 1 May 2013
This book was obviously seminal in 1994 when it was published but it is now VERY dated! The chapter on "How design patterns solve design problems" is useful as an answer to question "why bother doing this?" but most of the actual patterns feel a bit clunky now and have been finessed in the time since and for each target language.

Would only be worth buying as a much cheaper paperback - I feel a little ripped off that 9 years after publication I had to shell out for the expensive hardback which then proved to be quite disappointing.
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on 2 July 1998
The authors define design patterns as: descriptions of communicating objects and classes that are customised to solve a general design problem in a particular context. A design pattern names, abstracts, and identifies the key aspects of a common design structure that make it useful for creating a reusable object-oriented design. The design pattern identifies the participating classes and instances, their roles and collaborations, and the distribution of responsibilities. Easy to wrap your mind around, eh? Design Pattern people are in love with the power of abstraction and generality. You might even say they prefer to impress rather than inform. However, somehow you are going to have to learn this stuff, even if only to get into the heads of the guys who designed the AWT. Try starting with the code samples in the Design Patterns book. You have to read this book at least twice before it begins to make any sense. However, if you want to call yourself a programmer you MUST understand this book. I hope somebody writes a version of this book for Java programmers. It is written from the perspective of C++ and Smalltalk. This is a book where the you want the hardcover version. You go back to it again and again.
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on 10 October 2006
I read a couple of design patterns books before this one and quickly realised that I need to get this book as soon as possible. The others I've read all referenced it and as a design patterns catalog it presents patterns in the purest form. It is extremely easy to read in terms of clarity and layout and certainly in a format that will appeal to programmers. Although most examples are either in C++ or SmallTalk you should have no problem keeping up if you specialise in other languages including scripting languages like PHP5.
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on 17 May 2010
This book is a standard on the reading lists of many Computer Science academic courses throughout the world. It teaches you about how to think about and visualise the inter-relationships of your own objects using the object oriented engineering paradigm.

The most important lesson I have derived from reading this book is to do with re-usability of your code. A good engineer will have a myriad of self-created generic classes and assemblies that s/he can use time and again in making customised software. The point is that you decide when building the application, which functions should reside in 'parent' classes and which functions are actually specialisations of those, and require being m,ade discreet.

The writers go to great lengths in affirming and justifying the big rule in application design in avoiding 'coupling' of objects, to reduce dependencies and complexity (which is always a good idea in such a complex field!)

This book is regarded as the de facto piece as an introduction to the real nitty gritty of software engineering, and provides a very powerful pallet of design concepts that can be applied to virtually any object oriented software project.

This book is certainly no good as an introduction to programming, but for an introduction to OOP/engineering it is near perfect. Some of the design patterns will stay with you throughout your career.
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on 24 December 2012
Very very badly written, the authors seems to make simple ideas complicated for no good reason.

Design patterns are an excellent concept, and have used them in the past wth great time savings, however its difficult to reconise ones I have used previously from this!

Maybe I was expecting too much!
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on 12 November 1999
I bought this book because I wanted to improve the quality of my code, and I was seeking simple answers to some difficult problems that I was facing. This book provided them and opened the door to a whole host of other ways of designing code that were not even mentioned in other books on the subject.
If you want to make a difference to your code buy this book and read it again and again - especially when you're at a loss for a solution.
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on 5 May 2000
This book is compulsory reading with no real competition.
However it's very badly written. People often mention (without complaining? ) of what a lot of hard work this book is. In fact almost all the patterns are easy to grasp, but rubbish explanations in conjunction with inconsistent use of terminology and weak examples obscures each pattern to the extent that the reader's brain soon falls out of their head.
I can't point to any one example in the book since they are all as bad as each other. But re-reading the visitor pattern finally inspired this diatribe.
I can't understand how these guys have got away with it. It's absurd. There must be an unimaginable number of people who have given up on Design Patterns due to this book, seminal or not. What a shame. The value of patterns is almost incalculable.
If only Odell & Martin or Martin Fowler would condescend to give us something readable!
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