Patterns and details

Christopher Alexander, the architect who wrote the ORIGINAL original patterns book, contributed a forward to Patterns in Software. He reports that in the years since Patterns in Architecture

“We have begun to make
buildings which really do have the quality I sought for all those year… This has come about in large part because, since 1983, our
group has worked as architects and general contractors. Combining these two
aspects of construction in a single office, we have achieved what was impossible
when one accepts the split between design and construction.”

This applies to software architecture as well. Some intimacy with the details of construction and the broad picture are not separable, not if you’re looking to build something with life in it.

The foreword references an article I can’t find a copy of, Alexander’s “Manifesto 1991.” I did find some excerpts. Here are some bits from his “Hippocratic Oath for Architecture” that apply to software as well as buildings:

No matter how big the building is, the architect does some craft work on every building, with his (or her) own hands.

The involvement of users in the process is necessary – and widespread.

Engineering is part of architecture, and building is conceived while being engineered.

Make each building small in importance in relation to the life of the surrounding world which it supports.

process, not design, is the crux, and that the beauty and functional harmony of the building comes from a thousand small steps

The architect is committed to daily work and experimentation with techniques of making, forming, fabrication, and construction, with an understanding that new methods of building are essential to the creation of harmony and beauty.

The life of the buildings will never be profound or worthwhile unless the life of the construction workers, and their spiritual evolution, is important.