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Re: An Analysis Pattern for Inventories

From: Dirk Riehle
Subject: Re: An Analysis Pattern for Inventories
Date: Tue, 05 Mar 2002 23:46:31 -0500

Hmmm, if I understand your argument, and would take it to its logical conclusion, then patterns are actually bad, because unless they have explicitly been released to you, you can't use them? Thereby, anyone who writes a pattern and doesn't release it to you, takes away freedom from you, because he or she reduces your space of (design) possibilities?

That violates the spirit of patterns, which are canned experience to be used by people. While companies may try to use the pattern presentation form to describe something they have patented, most pattern descriptions have not been written up in this spirit.

I cannot see how your formally correct approach could possibly work. An example: I'm the author of the Role Object pattern. Role objects are objects grouped around a core object. For example, you could have a person core object, and multiple role objects grouped around it for different purposes, for example a customer, an employer, and a developer role object. I don't know of a single non-trivial business system that does not make use of this pattern. So I would believe you have it too and are in violation of your own argument.

But of course this is not a real problem, because I only hold the copyright on one particular description of the Role Object concept/pattern. I don't think there is a patent on the actual concept, so everyone is free to use it. Again, here, distinguish pattern description from underlying pattern/concept.

I can understand your fear of a trojan horse pattern or something like it, but for all realistic means you are free to use the Design Patterns, Analysis Patterns etc. of this world. There are at least two reasons: you already use them, knowingly or unknowingly, they are in your code, and even if you weren't using them, the rest of the world does, without fearing any licensing fees etc. because there is no owner.

So I think there is no formal position to which you can retreat--you will have to face some uncertainty.


At 3/2/2002 -0500, you wrote:
At 9:21 PM -0500 3/1/02, Dirk Riehle wrote:
There have been attempts to patent patterns, but non of them was really successful, and we are still kind of expecting a shootout between a corporation attempting this and the patterns community (as represented by the Hillside group).

This is exactly the kind of action we are want to avoid. We don't have the funds or desire to be in this shoot-out. Just to reiterate, we are all for patterns as long as we have clear rights to use the material.

At 9:21 PM -0500 3/1/02, Dirk Riehle wrote:
But the question is what you mean by using patterns. For business models? I guess a good textbook on double-entry bookkeeping gives you all the patterns (in textbook disguise) you need to design a decent bookkeeping solution. What's been called "patterns" most of the time just means the description form and not the actual contents, so the fight is on about the contents, of course, and not the presentation form.

Exactly, that is why we plan to design our own system. So that our system is based on need, our teams experience and intelligence. By doing it this way we are free from entanglements. We won't knowingly copy or use any patented, proprietary, confidential, copyright or even questionable material. And each member of the team must sign a release saying they are not contributing someone else's work. As an example, the code on your home page would not be usable by GNUe. To use something created by someone else we need a clear definition of ownership and rights, the best is GPL, but others also work.

I think it would be fantastic if you wanted to bring patterns into the GNUe project. Our delay at this point are the tools to convert the UML into usable form. Without the tools, we will have to maintain the pattern and the implementation separately. My experience indicates that one or the other will not be maintained without the tools. And since without tools we cant use the UML directly I have in the past questioned where we will find the resource to keep the UML accurate.

Our UML tool is "dia". Our early discussions were centered around taking UML from dia and somehow generating something that GNUe can use internally. That is still a great project for someone to take on.

Any takers?


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