Andrea Volpini semantic web

Semantic Web design

Inked Data Patterns book. This free book is available online, as as PDF, and an Ebook. The articles will pick out some of the more useful patterns from the book that address commonly encountered problems.

Today's Lesson

Like a question on Stack Overflow, a design pattern is often posed as a question: how do we solve some design problem? However a design problem is, by its nature, nonspecific, and rarely has a single straight-forward answer. There might be several ways to solve the same problem, some better than others depending on the specific situation and the specific context of the problem.

So a design pattern also captures more context: when might the problem arise? What alternative solutions are there? And what trade-offs are part of a specific solution? A design pattern is intended to share not just solutions but a better understanding of both the problem and how it might be solved.

Why Design Patterns Are Useful

Let's look in a little more detail at design patterns and how they are different to a simple tutorial or an entry on a Q&A site. What are the benefits of a design pattern approach?

In my experience, design patterns have a number of different benefits.

Firstly, patterns have a well-defined structure (more on that in a moment). This consistent layout makes it easy to browse through a collection of patterns to find relevant help and then dive further into the material. The structure encourages the author of the pattern to think carefully about the knowledge they're sharing, whilst making the material more consistently accessible to a reader.

Secondly, unlike a tutorial or recipe which typically guides you through a single approach to solving a problem, patterns encourage discussion of related and complementary approaches. Design decisions are rarely clear cut, so it can be useful to understand the context in which a decision is made and the resulting trade-offs. Communicating these nuances is how we share knowledge rather than just fixes for a problem.

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